Friday, December 3, 2010

Two cats' European vacation

How could I not take them with me?  This is Charlie.

This is Fox Jeffrey.
Ten years ago, when I adopted my cat, Charlie, I just knew I would have him as long as his nine lives would let me.  He's been my best buddy for a long time and he's always such a sweet cat.  Five years ago, I decided to give him a little partner in crime, Fox Jeffrey.  Charlie and Fox Jeffrey clicked and have been best friends ever since.  When I made the decision to move to Ireland, I had to consider my two feline companions.  Of course, I love them and the thought of leaving them behind automatically brings tears to my eyes.  However, I had to consider the expense and the trauma the cats would endure if I were to take them.  Especially Charlie.  At ten years old, he's no spring chicken and he's not a good traveller--anytime he's confined to his carrier inside a car he cries and pees on himself.  Vet trips are never fun.  I've tried to help him prepare for an extended period inside his carrier with frequent rides in the car, and he has gotten more used to, but he's still not great with it. Anyway, after much research into Ireland's pet relocation rules and after advice and trips from my vet, I've decided to take Charlie and Fox with me.  I made a committment when I adopted these two fuzzies, and I intend to honor that committment.

Right before our wedding, I began the process of getting my cats ready for their European vacation.  This is still an ongoing process and will be up until April, when they will be allowed entrance into Ireland.  Under Ireland's pet relocation guidelines, in order to avoid a six month quarantine, the cats have to undergo a six month waiting period in the States before they are allowed to enter the country.  Six month quarantine versus a six month waiting period at home?  I'll take the waiting period, thank you.  Of course, there's much more to it.  In order to qualify for the waiting period, I have to go through a series of steps...mountains of paperwork and vet visits.  Perhaps I can help anyone who is considering a pet relocation?  Well, just in case I can, here's a few tips for anyone considering moving their pet to Ireland:

Step One:  Make sure your vet is USDA certified.  You can do this by calling the USDA regional office in your area.  If not, find one that is.  Having a USDA certified vet will make the process easier on you--less paperwork and signatures, blah blah blah.
Step Two:  Research Ireland's pet relocation rules.  For Ireland, you can only bring a pet in from the U.S. on certain flights from certain cities (New York, Boston, Chicago and Orlando) and you HAVE to use a pet relocation company.  Pet Express is the only approved pet relocation company for Ireland. 
Step Three:  Prepare your first vet appointment with your USDA vet by bringing an outline of everything that is required from Ireland to move.  Get information from you pet relocation company to bring with you.  You will also need a U.S. health certificate and a EU health certificate.  Even though these won't be filled out until ten days before you leave the U.S., bring them with you to the vet to show them.  My vet wasn't extremely well versed in moving animals overseas, so it has been a learning process for both.  The more information you can provide, the better.
Step Four:  At the vet, be sure to get your pet microchipped.  The microchip has to be a certain type so that it is compatible in Ireland.  You can check Ireland's pet relocation guidelines for what type it can be.  Charlie and Fox were microchippped with the Home Again brand, which I'm told will work.  I'm hoping it will!  The cats will also need to be vaccinated for rabies after they are microchipped. 
Step Five:  Wait for about a week and go back to the vet to have the animal's blood drawn and sent off to the Kansas State University Lab for the rabies titre test.  The Kansas lab is the only one in the U.S. that Ireland has approved for this test. 
Step Six:  Wait for the rabies titre results.  Once the results are in, you need to submit it to the pet relocation company along with the rabies vaccination certificate and other paperwork the relocation company has requested to return.  Oh yeah, along with a deposit for partial payment of their services.  This isn't cheap, folks.
Step Seven:  Now, it is time to wait.  The six month waiting period begins on the date the blood was drawn for the rabies titre test.  So, now I have to wait until early April to bring my boys to Ireland.  I will be heading over before to get things ready and leaving them in the safe hands of my family, but that will be very difficult because the next time I see them, I will be back to take them on the journey of a lifetime.
Step Eight:  Well, now I haven't gotten to this part yet, since I'm still in my waiting period.  But, it should go something like this: Come back to U.S. from Ireland.  Take animals to vet.  Have the vet fill out the two different health certificates.  Send the U.S. health certificate to the regional USDA office for approval and then send the EU health certificate to the Ireland office for approval. Then 48 hours before leaving the country, get the cats de-ticked and de-wormed.  Oh yeah, then put them in a car, and drive them for 8 hours to New York to board a flight. 


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