There are many tips available about transporting our pets via a PCS move. Knowing and abiding by these rules is the pet owners’ responsibility, with veterinary personnel guiding you through theprocess or hiring a professional pet travel company. Just like preparing our human families for a PCS move, we have to do the same with our pets!
A licensed veterinarian must issue a health certificate to all animals traveling by air usually within 10 days of transport. Health certificates can be obtained by appointment at U.S. Army Veterinary Treatment Facilities worldwide.
If you’re going to Japan, Hawaii or Guam, these locations require long quarantine periods before your animal will be admitted beyond the arrival point. The process to qualify for shorter quarantine periods requires multiple visits with your pet to your local VTF.
Failure to follow the proper timeline can result in extended quarantine times for your pets and large out of pocket expenses upon arrival.
Additionally, many countries require health certificates and rabies certificates from civilian veterinarians to have original signatures and to be countersigned or stamped by a U.S.D.A. veterinarian. In most countries, but not all, original signatures by Army Veterinary Corps Officers are exempt from this requirement, so it may be advantageous to complete all of the steps in the process through the base VTF.
Regulations generally prevent pets from riding in temperatures under 45 degrees or more than 85 degrees for more than 45 minutes. This can be a major concern depending on what cities your flight goes through during your travels. It may be necessary to ship your pet before or after the PCS in order to safely transport. For other foreign countries, see the listed Web sites and contact your local VTF.
Questions about sedatives, food and water the day of travel, and traveling with very old, young or debilitated animals are best addressed with a veterinarian before the date for the final health certificate exam. NO SEDATION for pets is allowed for airline pet travel, even if your vet says it is OK!
Appointments at the VTFs fill up fast, so plan to call to schedule at least two to three weeks before the travel date.
Here are some tips from successful travelers:
- Plan months in advance
- Stay flexible
- Contact the commercial airline months before you PCS
- Fly to any major hub
- Stay overnight if necessary
- Rent a car and drive to your destination
- Take leave to avoid being rushed
- Send your pets with your family either before or after the weather embargo starts
- If your pet is traveling in a carrier you can fill the water container half way with water and freeze the night before, so that small amounts of water will be available without spilling
- Contact a pet broker/professional pet travel company to ship your pets in case you cannot take them with you
- Allow sufficient time between connecting flights in case there are delays or your pets cannot fly due to weather restrictions
- Have a list of hotels that accept pets in the cities you are stopping
- Do time consuming tasks weeks before you PCS
- Make an appointment with the Veterinary Treatment Facility for a health certificate within 10 days of your departure.
Have a happy and safe travel.