The first two articles discussed official requirements for importing pets into Mexico and the travel considerations involved. Now we’ll look at the trip itself.
At the airport
The day before travel reconfirm your booking with your pet.
For each flight with accompanied pets, you should arrive approximately half an hour prior to the stated check-in. Ensure that you have one original plus photocopy of the Certificate of Animal Health documentation, detailed in the first article of this series, for each stop on the journey, together with any additional paperwork required by individual airlines, countries or states en route. Also, carry a collar, lead, poop-bags and a few dog biscuits in your hand luggage.
When your pet, his paperwork and crate have been checked, enquire what time you will need to bring him back. Complete your own formalities and check in your baggage. Airlines usually ask for the pet’s return within an hour of departure, so I leave the crate with them and take him for a walk, providing a last minute opportunity to relieve himself.
Return on time and help to place your pet in the crate, without his collar, installing the four cable ties – one at each corner of the metal door, which must not be locked. The staff will then send your pet to the cargo area.
Most veterinarians agree that pets should not be given sedatives or tranquilizers for flying. An animal’s balance and ability to maintain equilibrium changes under sedation, which can be dangerous when the kennel is moved. In the cabin or hold, increased altitude pressures can create respiratory and cardiovascular problems for sedated animals. If your pet is sedated, the amount and name of the medication plus date and time administered must be given to the agent at check-in.The flight(s)
When boarding ask the flight attendant at the door of the aircraft to inform the captain that you have a dog traveling in the hold. Ask to be notified when it’s on board. The crew is usually very good about this, but follow up if you hear nothing.
On one occasion, the captain had to chase up a cargo chief to load my dog, as it hadn’t been included on the cargo manifest. He was very good about it, saying he had dogs of his own.
Flying out of Chicago with American Airlines last August, I was about to ask when the loud-speaker crackled and the captain’s voice announced, “A handsome blond passenger has asked me to let Emma know that he is now on board.”
Notifying the captain also ensures that the temperature in the pressurized hold will be monitored and kept at the correct level, normally a temperature range of 50-70F.
Arrival in Mexico
The Agricultural Health Inspection Office (OISA) is responsible for inspecting products of plant, animal and aquatic origin, plus the international transport of pets. Inspection offices are located at every port, airport or border entry into Mexico, where you must declare pets upon your entry into Mexican territory. They will be inspected by a phyto-zoo-sanitary security official, in accordance with current regulations.
As stated on Mexico’s Secretariat of Agriculture, Livestock, Rural Development, Fisheries and Food (SAGARPA) website: “Your pet should arrive in Mexico in a kennel or carrier of any sort, that is clean and without bedding, cloth material or accessories, for these will be retained by the OISA official for destruction. The container will then receive a preventive spray treatment by the SAGARPA-SENASICA officer.” Official documentation will be checked and the pet inspected. An import certificate will be issued upon successful completion of formalities.
“If official requirements are not met, you may request the services of a Mexican licensed medical veterinarian of your choice and at your expense, to issue a new valid health certificate and/or apply the treatment required.”
“You may bring a day’s ration of dried dog food when traveling with your pet and/or an unopened bag which must be properly labelled in English or Spanish stamped by the food inspection authority. Please Note: A total of 20 kg per family is allowed, in up to two packages equaling that amount.”
Remember to check requirements when returning to your home country with your pet. It too has rules and will also require current certificates of vaccination and health.
Requirements change from time to time, so always check out the relevant country’s website for “importing pets” as well as any export requirements from the country you are leaving. As this series has demonstrated, a bit of sensible research can save a lot of grief.
This is the third part of a three-part series.