Will my pet be safe during the flight? Can my dog bear the noise of the engine? Can it stand the temperature? These are some of the questions that popped in my mind when I yearned to take my furry baby with me to Colombia. I have a chocolate Labrador named, “Legend,” she’s a sweet present I received from my Colombian fiancé, Leo.
In the Philippines, I used to live on my own and Legend has been my companion. I would eat, shower, walk, and even sleep with her. I kind of had been so attached to her that when Leo finally asked me to go to Colombia and start a new life with him, my first thought of concern was Legend. I questioned, “how about Legend?” My dear fiancé was too considerate that he allowed me to do whatever is necessary so I can bring Legend with me.
Instantly, I started reading articles on how to take a pet internationally, four months prior to my flight scheduled on March 15. I was so anxious that most of the articles I’ve read online were horrifying stories of pets that weren’t even able to survive a flight. I got too scared and thought of not bringing her along anymore. But with persistence and really having the heart to take her with me to Colombia, it has only been a successful journey for me and my pet pal.
So, here’s a list of things to be done and be cautious about when you decide to travel with your best pals internationally, all based on my own experiences with Legend.
1. Check the requirements needed for your country of destination. As for me, it’s Colombia and the following are what they require:
a. Health certificate from a licensed veterinarian (valid for 15 days before the flight).
b. Updated records of deworming and vaccination.
c. Export permit (valid for 10 days before the flight).
d. A fee of 39,000 Colombian pesos (roughly $20 USD) when you claim the pet from ICA (Instituto Colombiano Agropecuario) located inside the El Dorado Airport.
2. Check the pet policy of your preferred airline.
Some airline companies might reject your pet request due to extreme weather conditions. Some may restrict particular animal breed. Most airline companies won’t allow a pug nosed or snub nosed cats and dogs as check-in baggage.
3. Find an airline company that best fits your needs.
I asked Lufthansa Airline about the transporting of my pet. A personnel told me that I need to ask for another airline to take me from the Philippines and connect me to anywhere in Asia. Upon landing, they’ll take full responsibility of my itinerary. It sounds like a lot of work to do for me so I called another airline, Delta Airline. Jenna, a representative from Delta presented me the cheapest dates to fly to Colombia. I find March 15 being the cheapest so readily I purchased it. I told them that I’ll carry along with me my dog pal. They then specifically asked me about the details of my pet (e.g. Weight, body measurements, and crate dimensions). A dog as big as a Labrador will be charged as excess luggage of $200 USD and will be placed among fragile items in the compartment close to the tail of the plane. There is no need to ask for any reservation. One can just check-in their pets like a regular checking-in of their luggages.
4. Provide a crate that will allow your pet to move around, sit and lie down in a natural position. It must be leak proof and well ventilated too.
Your pets must not be acquainted to crates and are afraid to enter one. So, here’s a simple crate training to travel soundly with your pets:
a. Introduce your pets to crates. Don’t force them to go inside. Allow them to do it themselves.
b. Leave the crate door open and place food treats inside that would entice them to enter on their own. Once they’re inside, close the door. Let them finish eating and open the door. This will help your pets get used to eating in the crate.
c. When the pet is familiar with the kennel. Increase the amount of time that the door stays closed. If your dog starts to cry release him and put him back again. Be patient.
d. You may download classical music (e.g. Pachelbel, Mozart, Chopin) on your phone/tablet and place it inside the crate. This will calm your pet and would surely put them asleep. This is effective to my pet.
e. Exercise the pet before leaving them in the crates.
5. At least ten days before your flight, complete all the requirements needed.
Secure all that’s listed in No. 1. Once you have the health certificate, updated records of your pet’s vaccination and deworming, go to the Bureau of Animal Industry located at Visayaz Avenue Diliman Quezon City for the Export Permit (valid for 10 days). This is free and processing will take at least twenty minutes.
Once you have accomplished the steps I enumerated, you’re all good to go. It’s time for you to relax while waiting for your scheduled flight.
I knew that Legend is a strong dog and I believed that she will survive the flight.
I ran some minimal preparations the night before our flight to Colombia. I prepared her crate and placed some of her stuff on it. The red bag shall contain her food, the plastic bag intended for her wastes, the pee pad, the leash, and the wheels of her crate. I provided an adequate water supply to keep her hydrated during the flight too. Also, I placed a used clothing of mine to ease her anxiety while we’re in transit.
It has been a long journey for us. Our itinerary was Manila to Japan to New York, and then finally to Colombia. Upon arriving in Japan, my name was called before actually landing. I instantly got nervous. Close to the plane’s door, a flight attendant was holding a paper with my name on it. I approached her and she then told me that my dog is doing great. She just asked for an extra copy of the export permit. I got teary eyed reckoning that Legend is just fine. It was a 4 hour-flight from Manila to Japan. From here on, I won’t be seeing her until we get to New York. It took us at least 11-12 hours travel time to New York. When we arrived, I was then allowed to check on Legend. It’s a relief to see her. I was even surprised that her crate is clean and has no signs vomit on it. She was barking at me to release her from the crate, which I immediately did. I walked her outside the JFK Airport for an hour. It was freezing cold and I cannot bear it any longer so I decided to just stay inside the airport near the Delta check-in counter. We were just there for four hours until I check her in.
In a few more hours, I was able to step on the plane going to Bogota. It was another six-hour flight to Colombia from New York. When we landed, everything was smooth. I simply claimed Legend in ICA , Instituto Colombiano Agropecuario, and just paid the required fee. It was nice to finally arrive with my dog pal so well.