Many people were surprised when we told them that we would be doing pet transport, taking Biscuit the grumpy cat, and Angel the neurotic street dog, from SE Asia to Europe. It was a lot of work but, with persistence and patience, but organizing dog transport and cat transport wasn’t so bad. Sarah did all of the research and heavy lifting. Here is her diary of our adventure of pet relocation from Asia to Europe.
So we are thinking of moving next year, it won’t be the first time we’ve moved with Angel aka Psycho Pup and Biscuit the grumpy cat, it won’t even be the first time we’ve done international pet travel with them but this time moving pets overseas is going to require a little more planning. Last time moving from Thailand to Laos was easy with them, (well as easy as it can be driving 10 hours from Chiang Mai with a screaming cat) we just drove over the bridge from Nong Khai in Thailand to Vientiane in Laos and nobody batted an eyelid but shipping pets by air, without using pet travel services, from a high-risk rabies country to a rabies-controlled European country, well that’s a whole different story!
01 October 2016
Ok, Can’t keep talking about it, it’s time to start the process. Appointment booked for 9 am tomorrow, I think I’m more nervous than Biscuit and Angel about going to the vet.
02 October 2016
Well, that wasn’t so bad. My kids were fairly calm by their standards at the vets. Biscuit screamed all the way in her box but not as loud as usual, was that cat calming spray I found actually working?
So microchips put in, vitals checked, rabies vaccine and other apparently necessary or recommended cat and dog vaccinations and worming tablets were given. $250 poorer. Operation Europe has begun!
17 October 2016
So we turn up for our 9 am appointment for booster jabs but the gates are locked and the vets are closed. It’s a holiday here for boat racing day. We did query at the time but ‘no problem, vet always open!’ Well it’s obviously not, is it?
18 October 2016
Back at the vets for the booster jabs. Biscuit screamed all the way there but she’s stopped trying to fight her way out of the box, so that’s an improvement. Psycho Pup started shaking with fear when she realised where she was and tried to push open the windows in the waiting room to escape. Not even the promise of a pigs ear to gnaw would calm her.
Another $80 poorer and I’m still not entirely convinced those booster shots were even needed.
The vet measured Psycho Pup for her airline crate and quoted more than $800 !! She’s having a laugh, she must be! Umm, think I’ll be picking up mine either second hand or in Bangkok closer to the departure date.
03 November 2016
So having had to wait 30 days for the next step, we are now back at the vets again, this time for the blood titre test. Poor Angel was very nervous and shaking like a leaf and no amount of treats from the vet would appease her ( then again, knowing her, that was probably part of her plan to get more treats ?) She relaxed though when the vet gently massaged her as she hunted for the microchip which apparently wasn’t that easy to find. Inwardly I started to panic that we may have to start the whole process again when ping, yep the vet had found the microchip! Then nervous as poor Angel was, she held out her quivering leg and allowed the lovely vet Tara to gently shave her leg before removing four millimetres of blood. Easy peasy! Angel knowing the morning’s torture was over, kissed the vet (she’s a bit odd like that!) and trotted out to the waiting room to hang out with Jon.
Biscuit, however, reacts a little bit different. She’s somewhat vocal and made sure the vet knew her displeasure. Finding her microchip was easy, well not so much body to hunt through but unfortunately, you can’t take blood from a cat’s leg, nope straight from the jugular! With just a few hisses and wriggles, her neck was shaved and revealed a lovely vein for the needle, but oh no, Biscuit wasn’t going to be easy. ‘Sometimes it takes more than one attempt,’ said the vet sheepishly as Biscuit kept wriggling and the needles would end up on the floor. A lot of hissing (by Biscuit, not the vet), finally wrapping her up tightly in a towel, and having to shave the other side of her neck, on the seventh attempt we finally got enough blood and as much as my little girl hates it, she seemed happy to get back in her crate. Now we have to wait about 2 weeks for the test results, hopefully, they pass or we will have to start all over again!
Blood titre test $350 each?
22 November 2016
The vet calls and confirms the kids have passed their titre tests. Yay! I ask for written confirmation. ‘No have,’ he replies. Um, not sure if when I arrive in Europe and say ‘oh the bloke behind the counter at the vets in Laos says they’re OK, so let us in your country!’if that’s going to work!
24 November 2016
Written confirmation arrives, phew! Now have to wait a minimum of 90 days before we can travel.
10 April 2017
Flights booked to Portugal. Have started selling off bits and pieces here and there. But now it’s time to make sure Biscuit and Angel have a place on the plane. The airline requires at least 24 hours notice but I had a dream last night that the pet section was full, so next morning I called Lufthansa in Bangkok, (apparently Lufthansa are meant to be better at shipping animals and a lot more friendly when flying with pets than other airlines and I want only the best for my fur kids! ) and apart from a small language misunderstanding when asked about weight for Biscuit and her crate, when I said 7-8kgs and the girl on the other end of the phone seemed rather shocked that I had a 78kg cat, all went smoothly !
16 April 2017
We have finally sold everything in Laos, taken Angel for her last walk along the Mekong, now it was time to leave. I’m going to really miss our little part of Laos.
We set off around 5 pm to the border, fighting our way through groups of people hurling water at the car. Maybe driving to Bangkok through the Lao New Year holiday was not such a good idea. But great the border was quiet, although one hell of a party was taking place at the duty-free shop.
The crossing was easy, nobody cared or noticed there was a cat and dog in the car. Biscuit complained quietly throughout the journey, but Angel was very relaxed, taking turns to stare out the window or snooze on the back seat. We drove a few hours then stopped for the night in a hotel in Khon Kaen. Angel thought this was the most exciting adventure ever and dragged me around the grounds sniffing everything and anything. Biscuit meanwhile explored the bedroom complaining loudly that she would rather be back in Vientiane.
17 April 2017
Well after a sleepless night, Biscuit must surely have a serious sore throat by now but no, she’s still loudly complaining. So after a terrible hotel breakfast, we hit the road again. Journey to the airport should be only 5 1/2 hours but it’s the last day of the New Year holidays here in Thailand too and everyone is returning to Bangkok so no such luck. Came across some horrific accidents along the way and some terrifying driving by some drivers, but around 4 pm, we arrived at our hotel Ploykhumthong Resort near the airport. Angel is still in her OMG life is just so exciting, but not Biscuit but she does seem rather tired after complaining all of last night.
Enjoyed a nice local Thai dinner and a Thai beer, but Beer Lao is so much nicer. Early night, busy day tomorrow.
18 April 2017
So it’s the final vet checks before the flight today. Was going to go by pet taxi to avoid driving in the scary Bangkok traffic but when I heard the price of 2,500 baht, the thought of driving in scary Bangkok didn’t seem quite so bad. So with Jon navigating, Angel thinking she was on a great adventure and Biscuit complaining, we headed to the vets on Sukhumvit 51. This is the one that the superb charity Soi Dog Foundation use and recommended to us.
All pretty straightforward, both Biscuit and Angel were checked, received internal and external parasitic treatment, and more forms for me to sign. Finally got an XL crate for Miss Angel, yes I know you should get them crate trained as early as possible but I couldn’t afford the prices quoted in Laos, plus we would never have got all our stuff in the car from Laos. So last minute crate training it is.
Next stop animal quarantine at the airport. Quarantine is located in the cargo area, now that bit is easy to find but quarantine not so easy. Drove round and round the car park and asking everyone for directions and in typical Thai style, they all randomly pointed somewhere!!
Anyway saw some dogs being unloaded, aha that’s where it is. So entered a small waiting room full of dogs, cats, rabbits, chinchillas etc and took our queue number.
So another health check, all went well and then, oh no a problem with our paperwork. Apparently, our blood titre tests weren’t good enough, yikes. Our vet in Laos had said just print out the PDF files and all would be good, but alas no and no amount of offering bribes, begging would change the officer’s mind. And then it was their lunchtime!
Several frantic phone calls to our vet in Laos who never quite seem to understand or appreciate urgency, we finally got the correct paperwork sent through but alas too late in the day to do anything about it and Jon needed to get to the airport, as he was flying to Portugal ahead of me to check our house was ready and that a car would be ready and waiting for our arrival. Well, that’s his story, I think he just wanted to escape my endless wittering and panic. Anyway, I’m glad I didn’t leave this bit until the last day! So another trip tomorrow it is, but at least I don’t have to drag the furry ones with me.
19 April 2017
So 08:30 opening time, I’m at the Quarantine office again, easy to find now I know where I’m going. “Did you get the email? Is it all good?” The officer looked up from her noodles and started scrolling. She nodded, phew! I was then given ticket number one and headed next door to get the paperwork. Shouldn’t take too long, I thought, so I sat down and waited and waited and waited a bit more. You can’t say anything though in Thailand as the officer would ‘lose face’ and I would have to wait even longer, so I sat there politely smiling and attempting eye contact. After more than two hours, and signing several more bits of paper that I don’t understand, I have the necessary documents. Woohoo! Now to sell the car, but that’s a whole different story!!
20 April 2017
So today’s the day. I’m not nervous or stressed at all. ‘Good luck with your trip!’ says one of the guests I’ve met at the hotel. I immediately burst into tears, ok guess maybe I am a bit stressed and nervous after all!
We head off to the airport at 8 pm and a couple of the guys from the hotel help me to the check-in desk, it’s not easy manoeuvring animals and 40 kilos of luggage! The girls at the check-in desk were lovely and very helpful. They were obviously very used to seeing neurotic pet mums. Eventually, I waved goodbye to the kids. It was going to be a while before I saw them again. A gin and tonic sounded really good right now!!
21 April 2017
So after a 12-hour flight from Bangkok to Frankfurt, a seven-hour layover, three more hours to Lisbon. We arrived. Never have I been so pleased to hear the complaining “wah wah” from Biscuit and see Angel wagging her tail. They had survived and seemed far more chilled by their ordeal than I was. But it wasn’t over yet, we needed the final stamp of approval from the Lisbon airport vet but arghhhhhh she wasn’t there. Two hours later, she arrived, confirmed the paperwork was all in order. We were home!!!!!