It is NOT a doggy dogg world after all….
I just want to scream! And have this blog posted live in hopes someone will see it and reassure me. Alas, I started the blog creation process too late and it’s still being developed (Which is why this is a backpost from the end of June). And I’m sure by the time anyone is reading this, decisions will have been made if not already executed. Let’s just hope Stella isn’t executed…
Which is why I want to scream. Getting your fur-baby into the UK is a nightmare. Full of awful legends and folklore that makes a parent consider giving up their first born for adoption rather than risk their travels overseas. I feel like I’m in 5th grade playing Oregon Trail all over again. Except I am deeply and emotionally attached to my oxen. And it’s real life. But the list of threats to a dogs life flying as cargo to the UK are about as long as all the possible deaths on the ole’ frontier.
Here’s the background. All dogs except PHYSICAL therapy dogs (not emotional, trust me I looked into that and UK does not recognize the need for four paws emotional therapy) must come into the UK as cargo. Now Stella is tall and lanky and weighs bout 23 pounds, which generally sets her over the limit for in-flight travel. But even if she were a 3 lb teacup Chihuahua she would be exiled into cargo for the trip to the UK. Granted, if she was a teacup Chihuahua I’d be smuggling her in my purse. Don’t think I haven’t played with the idea of a trench coat, hat, and sunnies on Stella.
So then you start hearing the horror stories from every corner. And all of these people, who haven’t actually been in the situation, lead you to an independent dog moving company. Of course, you hear it’s A LOT of money…but after all these tall tails, you think, okay it’s worth it. Well, we did get 2 quotes for moving Stella overseas. One was for a little north of $3K and the other a little north of $5K. And that’s with us dropping her off at the airport and picking her up on the other side. No door-to-door delivery. And for week or so I was totally willing to do that. UNITL, I really looked into what you’re paying for.
These companies charge insane fees to ensure…. that your dog’s paperwork is done correctly. That you dog will not get caught in customs, sent back to the US, or quarantined. You aren’t paying for someone to take the trip with your dog, or give your dog comfort throughout the flight. Your dog is not on a special first-class dog airplane; they are in fact, in a regular cargo hold on a regular passenger airplane. You’re not even guaranteed that they won’t lose your dog or that your dog won’t die. They are guaranteeing customs won’t reject your dog if you follow their guidelines and use their support to ensure you paperwork is straightened out.
$5K and my dog is in the exact same shitty cargo hold as the one when I book and it’s $650.
I think they are only able to charge insane fees because a) people don’t do their research b) people are lazy and c) people are in situations where they can’t get their dog to the airport and checked in and/or picked up at the other time due to time commitments.
Which leads us to booking our own travel. I am fairly confident that I have figured out the paperwork and the hoops to jump through, but I’ll post a guideline/how-to for all future expats on another post once I am in fact successful. So what we’ve decided is that we will fly directly from Chicago to Edinburgh on United airlines. Then we’ll rent a car and drive the 2.5 hours to Aberdeen. The only other option being fly to Heathrow, then have at least a 5 hour layover for Stella to clear customs, only to get on ANOTHER flight. And I won’t be able to see her during the layover. Or even ensure she gets on the connecting flight. So for obvious reasons, we’re flying to Edinburgh.
So in researching all this and looking at United’s pet-travel partners (people who handle cargo items) you get to read more negative comments and hear awful tails of pet travel. And then you see a link on Animal Incident Reports. Since May 2005, the US Department of Transportation requires all US airlines to file monthly reports on pets that died, were injured, or were lost during transport. And they have this little graph for each airline, separated into month, with reports on all those dead, lost, or hurt. Needless to say, I just spent the last hour reading doggy obituaries for United airlines. Roughly 1 dead dog a month. This is terrifying news.
Of course they don’t say, “But hey, we did deliver 100 dogs safely to their destination.” I have no idea if they are killing one dog and only shipping 5, or if they are killing 1 dog and shipping 17 million a month. (Okay, I know THEY don’t kill the dog…but you know what I’m saying.) I think I will reach out and see if I can get any statistics on how many dogs they transport on an average month….if I can’t get exact numbers. I need something to ease my mind because it’s going to take leather straps and Valium for me not to try and hole up in cargo with my Stella bella.
Also, I did notice that it seems your odds for a lost pet are greatly enhanced if your pet is a cat or bird. You’ve been warned. Additionally, there doesn’t seem to be a ton of reported injuries, but I’m assuming its easier to get away with not reporting that.
Filed under: expat