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PCS With Pets: 7 Things to Consider

.S. Army Capt. Drew Henschen examines a pet during an ordered departure processing line at Incirlik Air Base, Turkey.
U.S. Air Force photo by Tech. Sgt. Joshua Jasper

Many military families have four legged members. Preparation for both national and international travel, as well as researching the variety of transportation options, will make the process as simple as possible. Ensuring your pet receives the correct vaccinations for the right destination will also make the process smooth for you and your pet. After all, an organized PCS is a smooth(er) PCS.

  1. Crate Train: Before taking a pet abroad, "crate training" is imperative. Cramped quarters are inevitable on a flight regardless of whether or not your pet is riding in the cargo hold. Familiarity with small spaces and spending some time in them will l prevent him/her from defecating and/or urinating in the tight quarters (which would make for a most unpleasant trip).
  2. Safety Check: Bear in mind that not all airlines put pet safety at the top of their list. Ensure the airline, requirements, and safety protocols are thoroughly researched before Prince is loaded on the plane. If European travel is on the agenda for Princess, the American Veterinary Medical Association recommends traveling with Continental, KLM, British Airways, and/or Lufthansa Airlines (note: most of these are part of the StarOne Alliance), who all have optimal guidelines in place for the four-legged traveler.
  3. Health Certification: Any travel across international borders requires a health certificate. Following a full physical exam and evaluation, your veterinarian can provide a certificate ensuring that Prince and Princess have up-to-date vaccinations, is free of any diseases and is medically ready for travel. Not only is the document absolutely essential for travel it must be dated no more than 30 days prior to the expected travel dates. If the 30 day window is passed, the entire process must be repeated .
  4. Microchip: If financially viable, have Prince and Princess microchipped. This will make them much easier to find should they get lost.
  5. Service Animal Verification: Service animals require not only all the health certificates and veterinarian exams, but current service papers. In some countries both family pets and service animals may be required to remain in quarantine for a certain amount of time.
  6. European Laws: If you'll be abroad in Europe for an extended period of time, you may be subject to the Commission Regulation (EC) No 998/2003 of the European Parliament and of the Council. What that means is simple: every European country (with the exception of the United Kingdom, Sweden, and Norway) requires Prince and Princess to have a microchip and a series of up-to-date vaccines if they are to stay with you for an extended period of time. For dogs, the required vaccines are: Distemper, Hepatitis, Parvo, Leptospirosis (DHLPP), and Rabies within the last 12 months or a minimum of 4 weeks before arrival. For cats, the required vaccines are: Feline Viral Rhinotracheitis, Calicivirus, Panleukopenia (FVRCP), and Rabies within the last 12 months or a minimum of 4 weeks before arrival.
  7. Veterinarian Care: Finally, but certainly no less importantly, your dog or cat must have a completed EU certificate of veterinary health in order to remain in Europe for an extended period of time. Forms may be downloaded from the USDA's website and brought to your veterinarian for completion. If you'll be in a non-English speaking country, a list of local, English speaking veterinarians will be a must just in case Prince or Princess fall ill.

Relobase is veteran-owned and operated out of Pasadena, CA and is dedicated to helping our military personnel and families reduce the financial, emotional, and professional burdens of military relocation. Relobase has leveraged over 1,000 conducted or supervised PCS’s combined experience, military networks, and complex business solutions to develop the Relobase technology, which is currently deployed to more than 100 military bases nationwide.

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