Travelling With Pets

I’m looking for your travelling pets stories, good and bad, knowing that most will be bad.  Tell me about quarantines, inspections, vaccinations, etc.  The goal is to help others bypass obstacles, and maybe commiserate a bit among ourselves.  I’ll start with one of mine:

While in the Middle East, we got a Dalmatian pup and called him Morgen, short for Morgenshund vom Mittelost, hoping for some truth in the old German adage, “Morgens Hund hat Geld im Mund”, or something like that.  Morgen was mostly brainless, of no utility, hard to manage, occassionally chewed up my wife’s clothing and uprooted house plants, but he was all a pet was meant to be–loving and fun.  When we were transferred from Israel to Mexico, we kept his rabies vaccination record with our passports, thinking this was all that mattered.  We had checked for other requirements and found none.

Our itinerary took us through New York’s JFK International Airport, then to Houston, and finally on to Mexico City, with a planned arrival around 6 in the evening.  During the stopover in JFK, we checked with the Continental service desk just to make sure that everything was all right.  Well, just as in an old Ogden Nash poem, instead of hearing that all was hotsy-totsy, we were informed that all was coldsy-woldsy because, according to a notice on the computers at Continental Airlines, Mexican health officials were only available until 4 p.m. each day.  We wouldn’t be able to continue our trip with the dog.  We’d have to make new arrival plans, to get there earlier in the day so the dog could be checked on entry.

Immediately we started making calls.  Friends in Houston agreed to keep me and the dog overnight.  Continental changed my reservations to the following morning.  My wife and children would continue on the previously planned itinerary.  We went on to Houston content with our new plan.  And then it fell apart again.

We had only a short stopover in Houston, but my wife and kids got off to say goodbye to us (me and the pooch) and to see our friends.  We again checked with the Continental desk, and they refused to allow the family to re-board.  By separating ourselves, we had unknowingly run afoul of a consular agreement between the US and Mexico to curb kidnappings by ex-spouses.  It was illegal (and maybe still is — does anybody know?) for a parent travelling alone to enter Mexico without a notarized letter of permission from the other parent.  We had no letter.  Our things went on to Mexico City, hand luggage in the overhead bins and all, as if ghosts were in our seats.  To make matters worse, or funnier, the Continental folks in Houston, having more experience with Mexico, informed us that the health notice about pets entering Mexico was never enforced and that we all could have gone as originally planned.  They compensated by buying us all dinner–for us and our friends–and re-booking us onto a flight later that same evening.  We got into Mexico City around midnight, with four dead-tired children and a hyper Dalmatian.  Our things were in “held luggage” waiting for us.  There were no officials at the airport who showed any interest in Morgen.

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