Ed Jorden PET VET
Dear Dr. Jorden: We are planning an extended trip overseas to several countries. We want to take our dog with us.
How do we find out what the regulations are for such a trip? Most of the trip will be in Europe.
There are varying regulations for every country that need to be researched carefully long before you start your trip. The regulations can be quite a mess, as some of them are only printed in the foreign language so we have to get an interpreter to tell us what each line is asking for.
Think carefully before you make plans as to the practicality of taking your dog overseas. Can you find hotels that allow dogs? Will your agenda put you in places that will not take a dog? Can you find places for your dog to relieve himself if you are in the middle of a big city? Is he a barker? Will it be cold? Does he have to fly in a crate in the baggage part of the plane?
One thing that varies a lot is vaccination requirements. Some places require that the rabies be of a certain type and must be given at least 30 days before you travel but no longer than one year. Also, European countries now require a clearly readable tattoo on your dog for identification or an International Standards Organization-compatible microchip.
Health certificates are sometimes complicated. To get across and out of the United States, you will need a health certificate that we are familiar with. When you leave our country and enter another, you will likely need a health certificate from that country. European Union countries require a bilingual European Union health certificate. This certificate also needs to be endorsed by a Department of Agriculture veterinarian. We usually get this done by doing the exam on your dog, getting local signatures and sending the form to Helena for further review and signatures.
The real problem may come when you enter some country that has some special requirements that we don't know about. They can change their requirements at will without letting us know about it. Some countries, including the state of Hawaii, required a six-month quarantine of your dog when you arrive. That is a long time to have your dog kenneled and away from you.
I think Hawaii has now modified the six-month requirement, but other countries may still have similar restrictions.
It is recommended that you contact the appropriate embassy or consulate far in advance of your travel. A listing of embassies and consulates can be found at www.state.gov/s/cpr/rls/fco/.
One other possibility is at the USDA Web site, www.aphis.usda.gov/vs/ncie/iregs/animals/. This is mostly regulations about livestock, but the site does list information about pets for some countries.
Have questions about pets? Write to: PetVet; c/o The Billings Gazette; P.O. Box 36300; Billings, Mont. 59107-6300. Questions of general interest may become topics of future columns.