Dog on a Plane

“How are you flying to Europe with Kiara?”  “Is there a quarantine on arrival?” “Can she fly in the cabin or does she have to go in the hold?”

Getting ready to fly to Europe with Kiara the Chihuahua has been a challenge.  Lots of research to find the right way to bring a pet to Europe.

First, there are a limited number of international airlines that allow pets to fly in the cabin.  We want Kiara to fly in the cabin with us.  Flying is stressful enough for dogs and there are all sort of horror stories about pets flying in the cargo holds of aircrafts.  Over Saint Patrick’s Day this year, a dog that was enroute from Newark to Phoenix was accidentally shipped to Ireland.  We decided on Delta as our airline choice for this trip.

In order to be allowed in the cabin, pets are limited to a maximum weight of 9 to 20 pounds depending on the airline.  Kiara is only 2 and a half pounds so we had lots of leeway.  Pug-nosed (brachycephalic) cats and dogs are not allowed to fly because of their high incident of in-flight deaths.

There are a limited number of pets allowed in the cabin depending on the aircraft.  Most commonly the limit is two pets in first class, two pets in business class, and a maximum of four in economy.  Delta no longer allows pets in first or business class on international flights.  We had to make a reservation for Kiara early to ensure a spot for her.  We pay an extra $200 fare for Kiara to fly in the cabin.

The dog carrier must be an approved model that is leak-proof, ventilated, and able to fit under the seat.  Tracy loses her carry-on “personal item” to bring Kiara’s in-cabin carrier.

Kiara has a seizure disorder and takes two anticonvulsant medications every twelve hours.  We have a TSA approved cooler pouch for her meds.  We will have to give a her a dose of medicine while enroute.

Finally, there is all the required paperwork to take a pet abroad.  In order to avoid having Kiara quarantined on arrival in the European Union, there is a specific process to get a United States Interstate and International Certificate of Health Examination for Small Animals” from the US Department of Agriculture.  (Seriously, exporting dogs internationally comes under the jurisdiction of the US Department of Agriculture.)  The airlines requires a final health clearance be performed no more than ten days before arrive in Europe.

So last Friday Kiara had a complete veterinary exam from her own veterinarian (who must be USDA accredited) with boosters for all vaccinations and a rabies inoculation “at least 30 days before travel but not more than 12 months” with a rabies certificate issued. The doctor completed the forms in both English and French and faxed the paperwork to the USDA office for preliminary review.  Our nearest USDA office is in Sacramento, California.  We then waited until our veterinarian telephoned us back Friday afternoon to tell us the paperwork looked good to the USDA and we can pick up the original forms from Kiara’s vet’s office.

Today we took a four-hour road trip to Sacramento and back to visit the USDA to get Kiara’s health paperwork certified.  USDA-Sacramento was friendly, helpful, and it only took the USDA’s veterinarian about 20 minutes sign off, stamp, and certify the paperwork.  We believe we are now ready for Kiara to join us on the airplane on Sunday.

Fingers crossed that all the research and work pays off on Sunday.

6 thoughts on “Dog on a Plane

  1. Thankfully, Forest, we do not need the extra carry-on, we’re fully packed with 2 checked bags, 3 carry-on and our little girl. At this point one more bag would be one more than we could handle!!

  2. Good luck. Sounds like a wonderful adventure. I can’t believe you have to pay $200 to let Kiara fly with you and you still lose a carry on. You’d think the extra $200 would cover the cost of a carry on.

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