Zoe, a lovely Maltese dog, was looking forward to accompanying her owner, local resident Vicki Berg, on a 25 day trip to New York, Germany, Switzerland and Spain. This dog and owner are almost inseparable. They formed a special bond from the time Vicki fostered the small animal after she was rescued from the Riverside County Shelter. Vicki and Zoe are a fixture volunteering at the Loving All Animals office, grateful to the organization that rescued Zoe.

Zoe watched as her food was carefully packaged and put in the suitcase, along with poop bags and health certificate. She listened in on the phone calls while Vicki booked her travel with the various airlines and pet friendly hotels. Then three days before the trip Vicki spoke to an agent of the U.S. Department of Agriculture-APHIS who explained that, for a dog to travel to those particular countries, its microchip must be inserted BEFORE their rabies shot. This ensures identification of the dog through the rabies vaccine. The EU countries have practically no incidence of rabies and are determined to prevent its entry.

Unfortunately, Zoe’s microchip was inserted AFTER her rabies shot. Vicki was not willing to risk the small dog’s health by getting multiple rabies shots. The U.S agent suggested Vicki contact immigration in Munich, her European entry point, to request an exception. The German immigration official only laughed at the request. Zoe’s trip was cancelled. Vicki was panicked without any arrangements for Zoe’s care. Several friends stepped in to help, staying at Vicki’s house overnight to care for Zoe, and dropping by to walk her in the afternoon.

Vicki had to contact multiple airlines and hotels to cancel Zoe’s reservations. Fortunately, pet airline travel does not require advance payment. A special traveling crate and other supplies purchased would not be needed. Vicki and Zoe’s experience may benefit others who are planning overseas trips with their animals.

Vicki advises others, “If you’re going to only one country, I would recommend taking your dog. But think twice if you plan to visit multiple countries that involve multiple forms of travel and multiple sets of regulations. The forms for pet overseas travel are complicated and time sensitive, so plan ahead.” Looking back on it, this four country vacation with a five day stop in New York City could have been complicated by a canine passenger. Trains, taxis, and multiple airline flights in foreign countries are difficult enough for humans to maneuver. Vicki had to make a 30 minute frenzied dash though the London airport to catch a connecting flight, a more challenging feat if she was carrying Zoe.

If you plan to take your dog to Europe, your vet can assist you get the required pet EU “passport” and health certificate. All dogs and cats traveling to Europe must also be fitted with an electronic microchip for identification purposes. Some countries accept a tattoo in place of a microchip, but microchipping is strongly recommended in case a pet gets lost. All pets must be vaccinated against rabies and that information entered into their passport, the vaccine administered AFTER the microchipping. Some countries such as the United Kingdom, Ireland and Finland also require a special tapeworm treatment.

Taking your pet overseas involves extensive research and preparation. Vicki researched where to buy “high end” quality dog food that Zoe was accustomed to getting. She also discovered some countries will not allow you to bring in pet food greater than a one day supply.

Determine ahead of time if your pet will make a good traveler, including whether he reacts favorably when you take him out in public. Good pet travelers are well behaved, social, and respond well to humans. Dogs like calm and friendly Zoe are the perfect travel companions. Ten pound Zoe easily fits in a crate that allows her to travel in the airline passenger cabin. Larger dogs have to travel in cargo, and while airlines have improved safety, there is some risk involved.

With 60% of pet owners reporting some form of travel with their animals, businesses are quick to accommodate this new market. More hotels are now pet friendly. The Red Roof hotel chain offers a 15% discount when you check in with a pet! The Kimpton Hotel chain offers special amenities, lovely treats and toys to welcome your travel buddy. Many Hilton and Marriott properties welcome four legged guests. The Muse New York actually offers “Hers and Furs” Pet-icures, side by side manicures for you and your pet. Some hotels have a size restriction. CALL FIRST AND DO YOUR RESEARCH.

Meanwhile, Zoe is happy that Vicki is back home. As long as Vicki is by her side, Zoe is just as happy lounging for lunch on The Daily Grill’s pet friendly patio as she would be relaxing on the beaches of Barcelona. Vicki explains the bond she has with her special pet, “She has opened up my heart. Zoe has brought such joy into my life. I wake up every morning and her tail is wagging and it makes me smile. I give her a massage every morning. I take her everywhere I can, except for that trip to Europe!” For more information about adopting a rescue animal, call Loving All Animals at (760) 834-7000