Embracing Adventure “Life is either a daring adventure or nothing.” ~~Hellen Keller

Puppy Preparations Part I

We have two dogs, a two-year-old Pembroke Welsh Corgi named Gir and a seven-month-old Miniature Pinscher named Apollo. When we decided to take them with us, all we knew was that we would have to arrange and pay for their transportation and that we would need to have them seen by a veterinarian before we took them over to make sure they had current shots and to obtain certain papers for their shipment. Like everything else in this move, there were several steps in the process. VCA Animal Hospital had a coupon for a free checkup for up to two pets, so we took them for an appointment on September 2nd to get started.




First, each dog has to be up to date on its rabies shot (which can’t have been less than 30 days or more than a year old) and have a microchip implanted. The microchip is inserted with a 10g needle and contains identifying information which the veterinarian has the owner fill out on a form. We had recently bought Apollo, so he needed to have both done. He yelped in pain at the microchip insertion but barely seemed to notice the rabies shot.

Pet microchipping is pretty standard in Florida, and Gir had already had one implanted when I bought her there. She’d had her rabies shot, which would still be less than a year old by the time we got to Germany. While her shot is effective for three years, Germany only recognizes one year shots, so I figured I would have to get her one after we got there, but not before. I thought, for her, we were only there for a checkup.

As it turned out, the veterinarian couldn’t read the microchip Gir had. The girl there who specializes in international pet travel said she only knows of a couple brands (Datamars and Trovan) that are guaranteed to be read by the scanners used in Germany. She said they use Trovan (although the registration info we were given is through HomeAgain, which also has their own microchip brand). I found out later that, whatever brand one uses, the microchip must be a 15-digit microchip which operates at 134.2 kHz and conforms to ISO (International Standards Organization) Standards 11784/11785.

My options were to take the risk with the microchip Gir already had (and possibly have her denied entry if the microchip couldn’t be read), buy my own scanner (which would cost about $300) or get a new microchip (which was only about $35). So, we decided to get the new microchip. Since the rabies shot absolutely has to be administered after the microchip, she had to get that early as well. As with Apollo, the microchip obviously hurt Gir, and she actually bled a little. The rabies shot didn’t seem to bother her.

Next, we needed a European Union Veterinary Health Form 998 for each dog, which has to be in English and German. Fortunately these can be done up to four months before the trip, so the lady who handles the EU Veterinary Health Forms at the pet hospital said she could get started on that for us. She seemed knowledgeable about what needed to go on the form and promised to get it done and call us the following week.

We hadn’t heard back by the first time I had gone in for my Exceptional Family Member Program screening screening, so I stopped in the office which was near where I’d had my appointment. She said she hadn’t done it but planned to that weekend. She finally called toward the end of the following week for address information of where we will be going. Since we don’t yet have our address, we were able to use the address of the clinic where my husband will be working. Several days after that, we were finally informed the health form was done.

The other document we will need is an International Health Certificate, but the health certificate can’t be done more than 10 days prior to the shipment of the dogs. We were told at the pet hospital that the veterinarian can do it when the time comes. However, if he does, he has to send the information out, and then it would have to be sent out for USDA (United States Department of Agriculture) approval and then sent back, and that would be cutting into time. If we went to the veterinarian at Fort Stewart (we we didn’t even know there was one until he told us that), then it could all be done at the same time. So, we decided we would go to Fort Stewart’s veterinarian. Once we had the information as to when our trip will be, we were able to make an appointment. We are still waiting on the plane tickets to be issued so we can contact the airline about the dogs being shipped on the same flight.

We weren’t informed until halfway through October that it will cost $50 a month and $3 per day per dog if we want to have dogs in government housing. If that sounds intimidating, it’s even worse when one does the math. For two dogs, we’ll be paying $600 in monthly fees plus $2190 in daily fees for a total of $2790 a year. That breaks down to about $233 a month. That’s more than my car payment to own a car outright just to have our dogs live with us.
(Update: This turned out to be misinformation. We were only charged the $50 fee and $3 per day per dog while we were in temporary housing, so it ended up being $110 for the 10 days we were there. I’m told even if we’d been there the two months, while the $3 a day per dog would have continued, we wouldn’t be charged the $50 again. In our permanent on post housing, we do not pay anything for having our dogs).

My first thought was to see if we could find a way around living in government housing. I know that people who live on the local economy are given Overseas Housing Allowance. Unlike Basic Housing Allowance in the States, you don’t keep anything extra, so without pets, it’s basically equal whichever way you go because on post housing is paid for. But if we are going to lose $233 a month on government property, then it would make more sense for us to take Overseas Housing Allowance and find a pet-friendly place that takes a one-time pet deposit. However, everything is already in the works for us to stay in temporary housing and then be moved to a permanent location, so my husband says that isn’t a possibility. Fortunately for our dogs, while we know people who would take either of them off our hands, we love them too much to leave them behind.

Have you taken a pet overseas? If so, what were your preparations?

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6 Thoughts on “Puppy Preparations Part I

  1. It’s so much work to bring your pets, but so worth it. I brought my two cats, but fortunately didn’t need any paperwork filled out in German. I did need several hundred euros though at the Lufthansa Animal Lounge at Frankfurt Airport for various “services”, but am so glad that I brought them. Hope their move goes well!

    • Yeah, it’s shaping up to be, but they’re great dogs and I would miss them if we had to leave them behind. My friend who took her dog over said they didn’t even check his paperwork, so I think it’s possible it could have been avoided, but with everything else we’ve got to do for this move, I figure it’s better safe than sorry. I’d rather have it and not have them look then not have it and have them deny my pets entry. Services in addition to having had them shipped in? Didn’t even think of that. I’ll have to look into it. One of the things that’s most stressful about this move is that every step relies on other steps being done first to find out what’s actually going on. We know it’s probably going to cost us a few hundred dollars to ship the dogs, but since they haven’t told us what airline we’ll be starting from we can’t even get a closer estimate than that.

  2. This is really encouraging to read! Many times I thought I may want to/have to move overseas. Taking pets across the water feels daunting. I still might have to one day.

    Your article reminded me I need to get my kitty micro-chipped. Can’t believe I haven’t done this yet.

    • I’m glad it’s encouraging 🙂 It can be kind of daunting but it’s better than leaving them behind. Glad to be of service ;-). When you go, make sure of which one they are giving you. Microchips that run on 134.2 kHz (ISO standard microchips) which is what is needed for Germany, aren’t compatible with readers that read 125 kHz or 128 kHz (non-ISO standard) microchips, which are common in the U.S. They do make universal scanners, but most places have one that reads one or the other. I would ask the vet and local shelters what scanners they have. If the shelters in the area don’t have the technology to read the ISO standard one then it wouldn’t help your pet if someone turned it in there so you’d want to get the non-ISO standard one and then just get another one if/when you will be taking them overseas. They have to have the rabies shot *after* the microchip though for travel, so you may have to get one early. Also, FYI if you plan a trip that is to or has a stop in the UK then you may want to consider not taking your pet as they have a 6 month quarantine period. (This is supposed to change in January 2012 for pets that meet pre-entry requirements–whatever those will be–to be more in harmony with the rest of the EU but as of right now, this is their policy).

  3. So many people decide to leave their pets at home. They often end up running away or left at shelters. I have a hard time understanding this, as they are like family. I’m glad you took the challenge anyway.

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