I just love my Shiva baby so much and because she’s such an amazing dog, I’m dedicating a page just for her!
I do want to talk about the process of getting her here. It’s a bit confusing to muddle through all of the different regulations on the different websites, so I’m going to do what I can here.
First off, this review is about getting a pet dog from the United States (NC to be specific) to Finland. Going to or from anywhere else will be different, but there will be some contact information that can help you along.
The first thing to make sure is that your dog’s microchip and vaccinations are up to date. If your dog needs a rabies vaccine update, have the microchip checked out first, because you can’t get the dog chipped AFTER the rabies vaccine. Repeating because it is important: microchip implantation must occur PRIOR to rabies vaccination. Any rabies vaccination that has occurred prior to implantation of the microchip is not considered valid.
The microchip has to be one that is a 15 digit ISO compliant one (ISO standard 11784 or 11785). Most of the older chips in the States are nine or ten digit microchips, so double check yours. It cost me about $28 to have Banfield put in a new microchip, and that included lifetime updates for my contact information in their system that is shared with Petfinder.
After you’ve got the microchip and vaccinations up to date, you need to figure out what paperwork each of your stops needs, but the main thing, the Annex II form, has to be done in the final five days prior to travel.
You’ll need to get an Annex II health certificate filled out by a USDA-APHIS certified veterinarian, then take or mail (FedEx, most likely) the certificate to the local USDA-APHIS office to be endorsed. Your dog will also need tapeworm treatment, which has to be administered with 24 hours to five days prior to travel. The USDA-APHIS certificate is good for 10 days, and Finland has allowed the office to endorse the health certificate prior to the tapeworm treatment being administered.
When you go to the USDA office, you’ll want to bring the Rabies Vaccination Certificate, which has to be an original certificate with the USDA-accredited vets signature in ink. The Rabies Vaccination certificate should provide at a minimum the type of vaccine, manufacturer, lot number, date the animal was vaccinated, and identification of the animal or microchip number so as to match the certificate with the animal.
In addition, most USDA offices will endorse a VS Form 7001 as a courtesy; this form is not required, it is recommended to get to satisfy airline guidelines.
Because we are flying over the Thanksgiving holidays, and we have the holiday plus weekend to contend with, we are getting her certificate done at her vet on Wednesday, driving it over to the USDA-APHIS office in Raleigh, NC to be endorsed, and then on Friday, taking her in to have her tapeworm treatment done. We couldn’t get the tapeworm treatment done on Wednesday, because with us leaving on Monday, that puts it out of the 5-day time limit.
You may want to check out the USDA APHIS site for more details.
She is going to be flying in cabin with us, as I am claiming her as a service dog. This doesn’t require any specific paperwork, but I do have a prescription from my doctor for her, so that should help. The connection times that she would need to be on the tarmac and in the hold just weren’t acceptable to me. I recommend that you fly with your pet in-cabin if at all possible. But make sure your dog is well-acclimated to crowds, and that you fly in the appropriate class to give him or her room. We used upgrade points to go into First Class for the return trip (unfortunately, we are coach class on the way there).
If we hit any snafus on the way, I’ll update here.
Snafu Update 03.12.2014: Actually, everything went rather smoothly, all things considered. The main issue we had was when we got to London. No one had told me that she had to actually clear in London, so I had only been prepared for Finland. Just so you know in advance, that if your flight connects through London, you need to call the Animal Reception Centre at 020 8745 7894 and pre-notify them that you are traveling with a service animal, and get a pre-approval letter. If your animal is an ESA or not trained specifically by a company recognized by Assistance Dog International, you will need to pay a £350 fee. We got lucky, but according to the letter and what the agent in London told us, we could have been barred from flying out of Chicago (and actually should have been) since we didn’t have ‘permission’ from London to do so. Oops!
Update 10.04.2015: Pet Passport review. I took Shiva to the vet a couple of weeks ago to get her Pet Passport. I was going to do that on our first visit, but there was some question as to if they would have to give her all her shots again or could use the ones that she’d had recently. A few calls were made, then I was told that the ones she had were valid. So we went back, and and they just transferred all her information over. This “passport” is supposed to allow her to travel more easily between EU countries, although it is still prudent to call ahead of time and make sure there aren’t any special recommendations or requirements. I don’t expect to be using it in the near future, but wanted to have it in case we get transferred somewhere. The first passport had my last name spelled wrong and her birthdate wrong, so I had to go back and get that redone. The cost of a passport is not cheap…it was over 100€! But it’s done, and I’ll just take it with me whenever she has any vet work done so they can keep it updated.