PCS How To: Make your pet airborne

***image1***Many KMC residents will leave Europe this summer, and many are returning home with their pets.

To ensure your pet’s trip goes smoothly, here are some tips:

Plan ahead
Ensure vaccinations and health records are current. Pets need a health certificate that is less than 10 days old at time of flight, along with a rabies vaccination that is at least 30 days old but not older than one year. Animals too young to be rabies-immunized before travel need a note from a veterinarian waiving this requirement.

Have at least two copies of military orders because it will help speed a pet through customs. Also, a complete contact address and phone number in the U.S is required, said Jeff Schott, IMCOM-Europe transportation office. Ask your sponsor at your next duty station if any local or national pet restrictions apply.
Make reservations
Contact a commercial travel office to make reservations for the pet and family members receiving permanent change station orders and have a confirmed household goods pick-up date.

Carriers’ Web sites contain information on rules, policies and procedures for pet travel on the aircraft. However, that information is general and subject to change.

Be prepared
The cost of shipping a pet can be expensive, with the owner being responsible for all costs and arrangements. (The government will not pay to ship pets.)  Ensure shipping kennels or cages meet standards for size, ventilation, strength and design.  Animals must have enough room to stand up and turn around, and each species must have its own kennel with the exception of compatible cats and dogs of similar size. When in doubt, use a larger kennel. Dogs and cats must be at least eight weeks old and must be weaned before traveling by air.

Instructions for feeding and providing water to the animal over a 24-hour period must be attached to the kennel, said Robin Brown-Jones, IMCOM-Europe logistics division. The schedule assists the airline in providing care for the animal in case it is diverted from its original destination.

Pet owners are required to certify pets were offered food and water within four hours of transport, and the documentation must include the time and date of feeding. Food and water dishes must be securely attached and be accessible to caretakers without opening the kennel. Food and water must be provided to puppies and kittens every 12 hours if they are two to four months old.  Mature animals must be fed every 24 hours and given water every 12 hours.

Be aware
Restrictions on shipping pets are established to ensure animals are not exposed to extreme hot or cold temperatures. Restrictions can apply at originating, connecting or terminating airport locations. Owners will be notified in advance if a restriction applies. If a restriction is enforced, a pet may not be able to fly on your scheduled flight.

Also, pets may be re-routed to another airport or held over until conditions at the origin or destination improve, which is done to protect the welfare of the pet, so have a back-up plan just in case.”

Commercial pet shippers
An alternate option is to ship the pet through a commercial animal shipper. These companies specialize in pet shipping and offer daily departures, same day arrivals, boarding service and daily flights to more than 200 stateside airports, along with kennels available in various sizes. The cost is more expensive; however, they can normally ship a pet when restrictions are enforced by the airlines.

Visit the U.S. Army, Europe Customs web site at www.hqusareur.army.mil/opm/pets.htm for more information, or contact a veterinary detachment office for more details.