One of our biggest fears about this move was that something would keep us from bringing our dog with us. For those of you who know us well, you know that we are crazy about our Willow. One of the first things we researched before James even applied for the post-doctorate position was how to bring a dog into the UK.
We spent months researching and preparing, which seems like it was to our benefit because sadly, there were a few people at the Animal Reception Centre at London Heathrow who were not going to be able to bring their pets with them that day. Contrary to popular belief, you do not have to quarantine your dog in the UK unless you haven’t taken all of the right steps ahead of time. However, we were really disappointed to learn that we weren’t able to bring her in the cabin on the plane with us despite her small size. Because of the strict policies on bringing animals into the country, only service animals are allowed in flight.
After a lot of research and phone calls (and hours of being on hold), we decided to fly her with United’s Pet Safe program. We had spoken with almost every airline and they were the only ones that we were confident actually knew what they were talking about and seemed to have an air-controlled area under the plane for pets. They also allowed pre-booking weeks ahead while other airlines would only book 3 days prior to the flight, weather pending.
The process of getting a pet passport was quite extensive. In the fall, we found a vet at West Seattle Animal Hospital who had expertise in pet travel. We met with her and she walked us through all of the steps and directed us to the pet travel scheme website to make sure that we knew all of the information. We spent the last few days in the US focusing on making sure we had triple-checked that we had fulfilled all of the requirements. If you are travelling with a pet in Seattle, I highly recommend West Seattle Animal Hospital. They were so kind and helpful. Willow hates the vet and she loved going in to see them!
You can enter or return to the UK with your dog if:
- has been microchipped with an ISO microchip and has a certificate of placement
- has a pet passport (obtained from a certified US vet) and stamped by the USDA
- has been vaccinated against rabies at a very specific time
- is from an ‘unlisted country’ (the US is)
- Has a tapeworm treatment within 5 days of arriving in the UK
You also have to hire a broker to check the animal at the Animal Reception Centre. United guided us through this process but we spent a lot of time reading their website and e-mailing with the manager to make sure everything would go as planned when she arrived.
Unfortunately, when our friend took Willow to the airlines to be shipped, there was some confusion about a medication she takes and they would not allow her to fly. This was very stressful because she had 1 day to be within the window of her tapeworm treatment or we would have to do the process over. Thankfully, we had access to an international cell phone and I was able to call our vet and get a letter from her and re-book her flight for the next day. Willow got through check-in smoothly on Friday morning and arrived in London Saturday morning. After arrival, she spent about 3 hours at the Animal Reception Centre where they fed her, checked her paperwork and had a vet look her over. After a wait that felt like a century, we were finally able to see her. The rest of the day was spent loving on and playing with Willow. She was quite exhausted but was happy to take a trip to the park for some fetch.
We are so incredibly thankful for Kelsey and JJ for all of the time and effort they put into taking care of Willow and making sure she got to us safely. We are blessed with wonderful friends!