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Military Pet Transport

military pet transport

Deployments and relocations are a regular part of life for U.S. military personnel. While these moves can be stressful for the service members and their families, the challenges are further compounded when pets are involved. Military families often consider pets as integral members of the family, making it crucial to find reliable means to transport these beloved animals safely and efficiently. Thankfully, there are numerous resources and services available to help military personnel with this daunting task. In this article, I will provide you with an extensive guide on how U.S. military personnel can get help transporting their pets around the world when they are deployed.

The Importance of Planning Ahead

Proper planning is essential for the successful transport of pets. Different countries have varying regulations regarding pet importation, including quarantine requirements, vaccinations, and documentation. Military members should start planning as soon as they receive deployment orders to ensure they meet all the necessary requirements.

Key Considerations

  1. Destination Country Requirements: Research the specific import requirements of the destination country. This includes necessary vaccinations, microchip information, and quarantine rules. The U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) and the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) provide detailed information on these requirements.
  2. Health and Safety: Ensure that pets are in good health before travel. A veterinary check-up is crucial to confirm that the pet is fit for travel and to obtain any necessary health certificates.
  3. Transportation Method: Determine whether pets will travel by air, sea, or land. Each method has its own set of rules and considerations, particularly regarding the pet’s safety and comfort.

Resources for Military Personnel

Several organizations and services specialize in helping military personnel transport their pets. These resources can greatly reduce the stress and complexity of moving pets internationally.

Military Animal Relief Fund (MARF)

MARF is a non-profit organization dedicated to assisting military families with the costs and logistics of pet transportation. They offer financial assistance and guidance on navigating the regulations of various countries. MARF also collaborates with airlines and pet transport companies to ensure smooth transitions.

Military OneSource

Military OneSource provides a wealth of information and resources for military families, including tips on moving with pets. They offer personalized support through their call center and website, helping military members understand the steps they need to take to transport their pets safely.

Operation Military Pets

Operation Military Pets is a program run by the SPCA International. It provides grants to military families to help cover the costs associated with pet relocation. The program is designed to alleviate the financial burden and ensure that pets can stay with their families during deployments.

Pet Relocation Companies

Several companies specialize in pet relocation and offer tailored services for military families. These companies handle the logistics, from paperwork to transportation, ensuring pets are moved safely and in accordance with international regulations. Some of the well-known pet relocation companies include:

  • PetRelocation: Offers comprehensive services, including arranging flights, providing travel crates, and ensuring all documentation is in order.
  • Air Animal Pet Movers: Specializes in both domestic and international pet relocations and provides detailed assistance tailored to military families.
  • Happy Tails Travel, Inc.: Focuses on creating stress-free travel experiences for pets and their pet parents, offering door-to-door service.

Air Mobility Command (AMC) Flights

For military members stationed overseas, the Air Mobility Command offers limited pet transportation on military flights. This service is typically available on a space-available basis, and specific rules and restrictions apply. Military personnel should contact their local AMC terminal for more information and to make reservations.

Step-by-Step Guide to Transporting Pets

To streamline the process, military personnel can follow a step-by-step guide to ensure all aspects of pet transportation are covered.

1. Research and Prepare

  • Destination Regulations: Check the destination country’s pet import regulations well in advance. This includes understanding any breed restrictions, required vaccinations, and potential quarantine periods.
  • Veterinary Check-Up: Schedule a visit to the veterinarian to ensure the pet is healthy and to obtain any necessary vaccinations and health certificates.
  • Microchip: Ensure the pet is microchipped with an ISO-compliant chip, as many countries require this for identification purposes.

2. Gather Documentation

  • Health Certificates: Obtain a health certificate from a USDA-accredited veterinarian. This certificate should confirm that the pet is in good health and up-to-date on vaccinations.
  • Rabies Vaccination: Ensure the pet has a valid rabies vaccination certificate. Some countries require that the vaccination be administered at least 30 days before travel.
  • Import Permit: Apply for an import permit if required by the destination country.

3. Book Transportation

  • Commercial Flights: If traveling by commercial airline, contact the airline well in advance to understand their pet travel policies and to book the pet’s travel. Consider using a pet-friendly airline that prioritizes animal safety and comfort.
  • AMC Flights: For eligible military members, contact the local AMC terminal to inquire about space-available pet transport options.

4. Prepare for Travel

  • Travel Crate: Invest in a sturdy, airline-approved travel crate that is the appropriate size for the pet. The crate should allow the pet to stand, turn around, and lie down comfortably.
  • Comfort Items: Place familiar items such as a favorite blanket or toy in the travel crate to help reduce stress.
  • Food and Water: Ensure the pet has access to food and water during the journey. Some airlines and pet relocation services provide specific instructions on how to secure these within the crate.

5. Arrival and Quarantine

  • Customs Clearance: Upon arrival, ensure all documentation is readily available for customs inspection. Be prepared for potential quarantine, especially if required by the destination country.
  • Quarantine Facilities: If quarantine is necessary, research the facilities in advance to understand the conditions and ensure the pet will be well cared for during this period.

Emotional Support and Adjustments

Moving can be a stressful experience for pets, and it’s important for military personnel to support their animals during this transition. Here are some tips to help pets adjust:

  • Familiar Routine: Maintain as much of the pet’s routine as possible, including feeding times and exercise.
  • Gradual Acclimation: Allow the pet to explore their new environment gradually. Provide plenty of positive reinforcement and comfort during this period.
  • Professional Help: If the pet shows signs of extreme stress or anxiety, consider consulting a veterinarian or a professional animal behaviorist for advice and support.

Transporting pets during military deployments can be a challenging task, but with careful planning and the right resources, it is entirely manageable. By leveraging the support of organizations dedicated to assisting military families and following a structured approach, military personnel can ensure their pets are safely and comfortably relocated. These furry companions provide emotional support and a sense of home, making it all the more important to ensure their well-being during times of transition.

Petworks Pet Care Services
Petworks Co-Founder Kevin Kinyon is a life-long animal lover who works tirelessly to improve the lives of pets and their parents. Human and animal qualities he values most are integrity, humor, and empathy.