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  1. #1
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    Post Response to Relocating with Pets (long)

    I've received several PMs asking about how we moved here with our 100lb golden retriever (yes, he's huge--and a great security dog--in the eyes of the locals) and two cats. Here is one of my replies for those who want to know. There's more to the dog story but this particular response was to several who wanted to know specifically about cats.

    "Any advice on travelling with pets. How were they treated on the plane? (assuming you brought them from the U.S) Any comment would be great!!"

    My REPLY
    I have warn you that bringing our pets down was harder than bringing our kids! They all needed a special vet certification with all vaccinations including rabies (which is endemic here with 12-15000 cases/yr) and tags. The forms are some special international travel form. After the vet certifies their health, that form must be sent to the Dominican Consulate closest to you in the US. They then have to stamp it. Now HERE's the tricky part...we were defrauded of $180 because we were in a rush and someone called us from the DR consulate in Miami and said we had to send a money order or cashier's check...we did and then found out that is total BS!

    So, that part was a pain. Our dog--since he's 100lbs and they count a crate for weight couldn't go on the regular plane. He had to go by a special pet mover. And, the pet mover wouldn't allow them to take him on unless the temp on the ground was under 85 (in MIAMI in June.) This part actually went smoothly as we arranged to drop Zen off the night before our early morning flight. We were apprehensive but he did well. We were very happy with their service and care and would use them again in spite of the expense (which was substantial).

    The cats came on as "carry-on baggage" in soft-sided ventilated pet bags. My dh took one and I the other. We drove 1000 miles before flying and our normally totally mello cat was a feakazoid so the tranqs the vet gave us were used in small doses on him. Our half main coon who is a great huntress of lizards here--was fine on the drive. HOWEVER, we didn't tranquilizer for the flights. Here's what happened...everything was going well or at least as well as Miami International can go. Then they made us take the cats out of their carry-on bags to put the carriers through the x-ray. Well, the idiots put the cat bags thru LAST and made us walk through special 'sniffer' machines that puffed big blasts of air at us. My drugged out slug of a cat named GORDO, did fine but our huntress (Xena) completely lost it. She dug her claws into dh and climbed up his neck and face. I'm laughing now but he was spurting blood all over and the cat was on top of his head. He grabbed her, ripped her down while screaming at the security people (we know how effective THAT is) and tried to contain her. She escaped his grasp running like a bat out of hell into the glass security doors. The MIA security closed down all of the section we were in and the head of security was called. Meanwhile I'm desperately trying to capture my wild Xena was running into glass walls everywhere. Dh is bleeding all down his pale colored shirt while the security chief comes storming out asking "WHERE'S THE GUY WITH WITH THE CAT?" while looking straight at him.

    As all of this is going on, Jim's other carry-on was pulled for screening. They wanted me to watch them go through the bag while I was climbing around pulling our cat out of the underside of a security machine while she had her claws deeply imbedded in their new carpet. The poor thing was terrified and I felt stupid for not giving her the tranquilizer.

    Mr. Bigshot security chief was actually yelling at Dh while Dh was trying to calmly request the security tapes. Security chief said "I've already pulled them and you're not seeing them."

    After Dh bought a new shirt (he looked like the mob had hit him and really couldn't get on the plane that way) we barely made it to the gate on time. Of course we then sat on the run way for quite awhile.

    Once on the plane, the cats were fine. I'm glad we brought soft sided carriers because they require them to be able to fit under the seats and one of ours had very little space. I also had brought some Greenies for cats (alfalfa treats which they love) and cat nip.

    We landed in Las Americas and had to go through the immigration and customs routine; then go get our checked baggage (initially, we--5 people, 2 cats and 1 dog--moved down here in a total of 10 suitcases, each under 50lbs). Ahh, but just as we thought we were "home-free" a woman from behind where they take your customs form summoned us over to "inspect" the cats, take our forms and EXTRACT more $ from us (I believe it was $20USD per cat--which we were later told was BS because we had already had their certification and forms.)

    Sigh...and I don't ever want to think of what we'll have to do to get them BACK in the US. Our cats love it here, as does our dog. The cats' fur is luxurious from all the lizards they eat (entertainment and a meal.) I've actually taken to saving the poor lizards because I think our cats are too good at catching them.

    We could sure use a vet volunteer down here. IF you aren't a vet, maybe you'd like to volunteer at the orphanage I volunteer at: NPH International - Caring for orphans and abandoned children
    We (NPH) are going to be getting laying hens soon (bad timing with avian flu but they need the eggs). There is always room for caring volunteers on this island.
    My advice is to be excessively prepared and calm while traveling with pets and kids; it helps to have two adults going if you have more than one animal.
    Paz y salud,
    DrChrisHE
    Last edited by DrChrisHE; 01-30-2008 at 08:34 PM. Reason: Added NPH

  2. #2
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    i am sorry, i had to laugh out loud.
    great story and i am glad you went through all this trouble to relocate your animals and did not leave them behind.
    (i can hardly imagine getting our cat to travel anywhere, we take him to the vet loose in a car and i swear, trying to push/pull 10lb of stubbornness from under the car seat is hard enough.)

  3. #3
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    Boy that sounds like a nightmare. We had just the opposite experience. Our dog is small so for a fee ($75) he flies in the cabin under our seat with us. He has gone back and forth at least 3 times now and all we needed was:
    1. Health certificae from the US vet and up to date shots (rabies within a year of the flight)
    2. Health certificat then stamped by the USDA. There are multiple offices around the country and needs to be done no more then 30days from the flight. It was about $24 plus the postage to send the certificate and the return envelope.
    3. A $10 fee here to clear the dog through customs.
    My wife has the dog cleared before I even have all the luggage collected.

    We have never had the certificate sent to the DR embassy, nor do you need to do it to get the dog in legally.
    Some folks we know don't even bother with the certificate, but make a $20 donation with customs. However I would not reccomend that.

    The reverse is even easier. Just need a certificate from a vet here (we use DR Bob) and the cost is about $35 and get on the plane.

    Hope this helps.

    Bob K

  4. #4
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    Thanks for the confirmation that our process of "doing it the right way" (as Dh would refer to the process) was utterly unnecessary. Now that I know how things "work" here, I too would use your approach although I'm not sure Dh would go for it! Honestly, the money thing wasn't the worst--although we hardly could say it didn't hurt...it was the Miami Massacre as it is now known in our household.

    And, yes I FORGOT that the airlines ALSO charged us for an onboard (in the cabin and under the seat) fee. I'm thinking you should check the airline for the amount but for our cats it was $25 ea two years ago. Something you should be aware of is that they won't allow more than X number of animals in a cabin. WHY? Because the animals 'talk' to each other and can set each other off (like babies can do also!)

    I'm very glad there's a vet that works for going back with them. We've not brought them back when we visit the US. How does one get in touch with DR Bob? Where is he located? We use Animed in SD and like them very much although it is a drive with animals and kids in the car. TIA!
    Paz y salud,
    DrChrisHE
    Last edited by DrChrisHE; 01-30-2008 at 09:16 PM.

  5. #5
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    dr bob is located in sosua, i belive...

  6. #6
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    Mom CB has brought her little 7lb. Girlie Dog in and out prolly 6 times. Never a problema. She has her papers all in order, we go to the customs office, pay a small fee, and away we go. We've done it in both a private aircraft going through POP, or commercial going through SDQ. No problem coming back in the states, either.

    I intend to bring my twin boy black cats when I come down. Rest assured, they will be as buzzed as Timothy Leary at a Grateful Dead concert the entire trip...

    <edit> Our experience is like Bob K stated...</edit>

  7. #7
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    Default Taking a cat for a drag

    Hey Dv8!
    Quote Originally Posted by dv8 View Post
    i am sorry, i had to laugh out loud.
    great story and i am glad you went through all this trouble to relocate your animals and did not leave them behind.
    (i can hardly imagine getting our cat to travel anywhere, we take him to the vet loose in a car and i swear, trying to push/pull 10lb of stubbornness from under the car seat is hard enough.)
    It sounds like your cat is one of our old cats reincarnated. We used to try and take Rascal for a walk on a leash. She would completely lose all function in her legs. This used to start on our hardwood floors in Oregon and Dh would try to "encourage" her with motion (aka, dragging her slowing). She never did get the idea of the leash. Eventually we built an indoor-outdoor catwalk.

    BTW, I highly recommend a cat carrier. I like the soft ones because they don't take up space when not in use.
    Paz y salud,
    DrChrisHE

  8. #8
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    i don't think our cat could take a trip in a box. probably if we'd somehow manage to shove him in without losing any limbs - he'd stay in there for ever, no force in the world able to take him out. he gets quite... pointy, when he needs to. imagine squeezing a hedgehog through the keyhole.
    when he was smaller he took travelling quite well - loose on our knees and asleep all the time but now his protest start as soon as we leave the house: constant child-like screeming.
    should we ever need to take him on a longer trip he'll be tripping within tripping for sure, for his own good, he's the type that would start a massacre at the airport...

  9. #9
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    ROFLOL...now I have tears in MY eyes. Thanks.

    But now I need to come clean because Dh is harassing me for taking credit for his joke. He called me on a business trip to the US where he went through the Miami airport. During this call he said "I saw the sign at the Miami airport that said 'Site of the 2006 Miami Massacre." Being the sucker that I am, I said "REALLY?" Yes, so HE was the one who named the event. I merely procured it by eminent domain (of needing it to illustrate something in my post!)

    Yes, I DO recommend the tripping cats on trips. I used to be opposed to it but after THAT, I'm not at all any more. If things had gone further, I wouldn't have put it past the airport security to have shot our cat as a terrorist!
    paz y salud,
    DrChrisHE

  10. #10
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    Great stories to read. Really helpful too!!

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