Pet relocation companies function like full-service travel agents for pets, coordinating all phases of the move.
The process begins with initial meetings to discuss the specifics of the pet's move and the regulations that apply, plan the itinerary and outline the necessary documentation. The agent, or pet relocation specialist, will take responsibility for finding and booking the optimal travel arrangements and preparing the import-export documents.
Before a move, pet owners must make sure their pet's health records and vaccinations are in order; they must show a health certificate issued by a veterinarian no more than 10 days before the departure date. And, they must get their pet accustomed to their crate ahead of time. The more a pet is crate trained, the less stress the animal will undergo during the hours in flight.
On moving day, the relocation service usually takes charge of delivering the animal to the airport, checking it in and supervising the boarding procedure. This may be true even when the owner is accompanying the animal in flight.
Some airlines permit certain smaller animals to travel as carry-on luggage under the passenger's seat, but many animals do not meet the requirements and must travel in the cargo hold.
Relocation representatives will meet the animal at the destination site, guide it through customs, and deliver it either to its new home or into transitional boarding. Many nations -- including the United Kingdom, Japan and Australia -- impose mandatory quarantine periods on imported pets [Source: DogTime].
The process sounds straightforward, but things do not always flow smoothly in air travel. One man booked his overseas move four months ahead, then belatedly realized his cats needed vaccinations six months before they could travel. A service called Puppy Travel helped him board his cats in a kennel for the extra two months, then arranged their flight and got them on the plane [source: Hanes].
Planning for such unexpected contingencies is what makes the relocation specialists worth their weight in gold-and worth the price tag of $350 or more. For many people, it's a small price to pay for their beloved pets and their peace of mind.
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