FORT CAMPBELL, Ky. – As permanent change of station, PCS, season begins, Soldiers with pets should plan ahead to make travel as smooth as possible – especially if the move is overseas.
“It’s extremely important,” said Capt. Taylor Alton, a veterinarian at Fort Campbell Veterinary Clinic. “I think pets are part of the Family for most people.”
Vicki Peters, operations assistant at Fort Campbell Veterinary Center, said Soldiers should make appointments to have their pets vaccinated, get a health certificate, book flights and make a plan if quarantining is required.
“You need to keep up to date on the vaccines and get them microchipped before you get the rabies vaccine,” Peters said.
Army veterinarians are available to perform health exams and issue health certificates for pets at the Fort Campbell Veterinary Center. Because military veterinarians are U.S. Department of Agriculture endorsed, and most civilian veterinarians are not, those who see an off-post veterinarian must obtain a USDA endorsement in Nashville. However, because of the COVID-19 pandemic, those offices remain closed for in person visits and paperwork must be sent to Nashville and then returned, which also takes time, Peters said.
As soon as PCS orders are issued, the clock begins ticking to make arrangements, Peters said. While stateside moves may require little more than a checkup to make sure the pets are properly vaccinated and microchipped, overseas moves – including Hawaii – require much more.
Health certificates at Fort Campbell Veterinary Clinic cost $35, while off-post the service may cost between $200 and $300 and will not include the USDA endorsement.
“It is much cheaper and more convenient to have it done here on post,” Peters said.
Overseas health certificates issued for a pet to travel are usually good for 10 days, while stateside health certificates are good for 30 days. All required paperwork including the travel sheet and shot records must be on file before a health certificate can be scheduled. Once registered at the new installation, a pet’s file can be transferred from the previous clinic.
If moving stateside, owners may wish to contact the veterinarian at the new installation. They also can find links to all state and country requirements for pets at the USDA website, she said.
Locations such as Japan and Hawaii have stringent guidelines and owners should be mindful and allow adequate time for the additional requirements such as a Fluorescent Antibody Virus Neutralization, or FAVN, test. Germany has a simpler approach, but owners should still plan ahead.
Japan requires 180 days of quarantine for pets, but owners should know quarantining may cost upwards of $30 a day.
Because of the coming summer heat, there may soon be times when most airlines will not take a pet in cargo because of safety concerns, so that’s another factor to consider, Peters said.
Soldiers and their Families who already live on post are required to have their pets microchipped and vaccinated against rabies and be registered with VETCEN. Registration forms and travel sheets to request a health certificate appointment are available at the clinic or online at https://blanchfield.tricare.mil under health care services, select other, then Veterinary Center. All forms and shot records can be dropped off or emailed to firstname.lastname@example.org. The Veterinary Center is located at 5289 8th St., 8 a.m.-4:30 p.m. weekdays. To make an appointment, call 270-798-3614.
To mitigate the spread of COVID-19, only one adult is allowed in the building with their pet. Those who prefer to stay in their cars during the visit should call for assistance after arriving on site.
If pets are not up to date on shots in military housing or have not had rabies vaccinations, owners can lose their pet privileges, be removed from Family housing and possibly face UCMJ action, Peters said.
Rabies certificates signed in blue ink are required to fly with your pet or be submitted to the quarantine station ahead of traveling.
Alton said if pets moving stateside do not travel well, veterinarians might be able to give them medications to keep them calm. There are also options for air travel, although most airlines don’t like pets to be sedated for safety reasons.
Thunder shirts and other tools also can help ease anxiety for dogs and cats when traveling.
The key, Peters said, is to make a plan and follow instructions.