How to prepare for a smooth PCS with your pets

By Michelle ThumMarch 11, 2022

PCSing with pets
Fritzi, a corgi, sits in a dog crate at the Ramstein Passenger Terminal, Ramstein Air Base, Germany, May 29, 2020. Passengers wishing to travel with their pets must choose a kennel with ventilation on at least three sides and space up to three inches from the top of the kennel to the ears of the pet. (Photo Credit: Airman 1st Class Taylor Slater) VIEW ORIGINAL

WIESBADEN, Germany — A permanent change of station move is stressful as it is, but moving with your pet can add an extra layer of stress unless you are well prepared. Public Health Command Europe Veterinarians have some tips to help make moving your furry companion as easy as possible.

“As soon as you know your travel details, contact your local veterinary treatment facility to assist with your upcoming pet travel process,” said Maj. Christopher Reeves, a veterinarian and officer in charge of the Wiesbaden Veterinary Treatment Facility. “Some countries, such as Japan, Guam or the United Kingdom, have specific requirements for importing a pet and can take over six months to prepare. Therefore it’s important to prepare for your move ahead of time.”

Additionally, rotator space has become more limited during COVID-19, so Reeves recommends reaching out to the transportation office as soon as you can to see if you can get a reservation.

Your Veterinary Treatment Facility can help prepare you for a smooth move.

For any PCS, the following documentation is required:

  • Proof of an up-to-date Rabies Vaccine is required (i.e. rabies certificate issued by an on-base vet clinic or an official European Union Pet Passport issued by a licensed off-base vet.) The certificate needs to have the microchip number on it (see below).

Note: Pets must be at least 12 weeks old to receive the rabies vaccine. If this is your pet’s first rabies vaccine, your pet must be vaccinated at least 28 days prior to travel to allow the vaccine to take effect.

  • Your pet must be microchipped. Most countries require an ISO compliant microchip, which you can confirm if the number is 15 numerals (no letters) long.
  • Health Certificates are required for all pets and are only valid for 10 days after being issued. Health certificates can be issued from an authorized on-post or off-post veterinarian as long as they are in English. Health certificates must be legible, accurate, and complete. Make sure to verify that the off-post veterinarian is authorized to issue health certificates. All Veterinary Corps Officers are authorized if you can get an appointment.
  • An Acclimation Letter (This must be obtained from your veterinarian if your pet will be traveling in cabin or cargo).
  • Then any additional testing that may be country specific. This may include rabies anti-body titer testing (“FAVN”), parasite exams, flea or tick prevention as examples.

“It is important to remember summer is peak PCS season so the on-post veterinary clinic appointments fill-up quickly,” Reeves said. “I recommend making your appointment as soon as your receive an indication of your orders. We do not need official orders to start the process, just the project country.”

Public Health Command Europe veterinarians recommend the USDA Animal and Plant Health Inspection Service website for any country requirements and additional resources.

Your method of travel may have separate and additional requirements. Check with your airline or shipping carrier to determine what requirements they may have, if any.

If your animal isn’t used to being in a carrier or crate, it’s helpful to get them used to that crate well in advance.

According to Reeves, this can become their “safe space” during the transition, “not just on the plane / car, but also in the hotel or while household goods are being picked up.”

Reeves added it is the responsibility of the pet owner to make sure their pet has met the requirements of the destination country. A failure in meeting the requirements can result in the animal being returned to the origin country at the owner’s expense, the pet being quarantined at the owner’s expense, or even euthanized.

If you have any questions or concerns, please contact your local veterinary treatment facility for help.