Once we’d committed to bringing the animals with us, the mechanics of getting them half-way around the world began…
About two months before our travel date, Tobi at Pet Relocation, took over. She made sure the pets were healthy, vaccinated and microchipped, and that we had appropriately sized crates. We were shooting for a June 30th departure for the pets, humans traveling on June 28, so we would be there to meet them.
Next, we started the actual plan for export. The timing is crucial; their vet check for the USDA health certificates must be completed no more than 10 days before travel, during which time the original paperwork from the vet must be couriered to the USDA to issue in time for travel. There is JUST enough time to complete all of this before flying. Tobi followed the docs from the vet to the USDA. The flights couldn't be booked until USDA docs are complete.
The vet check went well and the USDA Health Certificates were issued. Tobi booked their flights. SFO to Amsterdam, a 9 hour layover, then on to Bangkok where they would go through customs and more health inspections, and then finally to Chiang Mai.
The day before we flew, we took all four pets to Fairfax Vet for boarding and prep for their trip. Four crates, four sets of bedding, four sets of food for five days, water bowls, puppy pee pads, plus four freaked out pets, it was a little chaotic.
We flew on Sunday, we arrived on Tuesday. They flew later Tuesday, west coast time. They were registered with KLM as cargo, so I got updates every time they were scanned. They were walked at SFO before boarding. They were the last to board and the first to disembark. I compared their time scanned with the flights’ arrival times. They were 1 to 2 minutes apart. Meanwhile, Tobi from Pet Relocation emailed me feedback from their agents wherever they stopped.
SFO to Amsterdam. They had a comfort stop in Schipol Airport at the Animal Hotel, a KLM-Air France joint facility for animal transport. They were walked, fed, watered, they spent time together in a dog run for two. The cats spent the whole time out of their crates.
Amsterdam to Bangkok. More departure scans, arrival scans in Bangkok. Their vet check in Bangkok went smoothly and very quickly. This is when Pet Relocation went above and beyond. Normally, the pets would then be put on a plane to Chiang Mai the following day. Their agent in Chiang Mai didn’t have an air conditioned van large enough for the dogs’ crates, so they drove them, in an air conditioned van, from Bangkok to our door in Mae Rim. Joy, their agent in Bangkok, kept me up to date. Rain, traffic in Bangkok made the drive 10 hours. They arrived at our gate, in Huay Sai, Mae Rim, Chiang Mai at 3:30 am (about 12 hours earlier than if they had flown), 3 people crammed in the front of the van, and the pets in the back.
I offered their drivers food and a place to sleep, but they had arrangements in Chiang Mai and left, waving to us as they drove off. Wow. I was so impressed. The dogs were fine after peeing for a very, very long time. Their crates are plastered with stickers, like some vintage travel trunk. We were all together again.