Tuesday, January 14, 2014
New Year and Dog Flights
I thought i would take a moment for the travelers out there who read this blog (are there any of you?) to mention how traveling internationally with a dog went. When i told friends and family that i would be taking Sybil with me on my vacation to the US I received a lot of shocked looks--most people can perceive traveling with a dog when you move to a new country, but not just for a vacation. I mean, i didn't have to take her. I could have sent her to a dog hotel. The total cost of her trip was probably the same as a hotel anyway. But, as a former street and shelter dog, i didn't want to put her through the thought that we abandoned her to a new shelter. So elected to go the hard route and take her along for the ride. It's stressful no matter what country you are flying into or out of. Vets have to be visited, paperwork signed and appointments made. That in itself is the most stressful part. The actual travel itself is variable. Flying from Brazil to the US with the pup required a visit to the vet to obtain a health certificate and an appointment at the Brazilian Ministry of Agriculture within three days of departure. The ministry processes the paperwork for free. How nice of them. On the return, i had to do the same thing. Go to the vet, obtain a certificate of health and make an appointment with the USDA. The vet visit was twice the price in the US and there was a 38 dollar processing fee with the USDA. Not so bad.
I chose to fly Delta because they had a good pet policy and only charged 75 dollars each way for the pet to ride in the cabin. Even though the rules state that a dog or cat must stay in their carrier under the seat for the duration of the flight, i took Sybil out of her box on held her on my lap under a blanket during the flight from Sao Paulo to Detroit. None of the flight attendants cared or asked me to put her away. The same thing happened on my flight from Detroit to Seattle. No problem. She was silent, still and scared out of her mind. Customs in the US was practically non existent. They didn't even ask me to take her out of the box, and they handed me back the difficult to obtain paperwork after superficially glancing at it. Unfortunately my cabin crew on my return flights were not as keen on rule bending. My Seattle to New York flight went well until after an hour the first class attendant walked by and told me to put her box under the seat. Things got worse for poor Sybil on the flight from New York to Sao Paulo when the flight attendant told me that she must stay in the box under the seat for the full trip. About 12 hours total without getting out. I felt cruel for doing it, but i passed her food and water through the carrier. And she made it. In the end it really depends on the cabin crew. And a crowded 767 with screaming babies does not make for a cheery crew. I definitely recommend traveling with your pet if you are going for a significant period of time. Despite the stress of traveling, i know she had more fun passing her vacation in a big house with a big yard and cousin dogs to play with than scared in a dog hotel. And there you have it.