When we decided to move from Buffalo, N.Y. to somewhere that was yet-to-be-determined in Ireland, one of the things that wasn't up for any sort of debate was that our animals would be coming with us. If that wasn't going to happen, the move wasn't going to happen, either.
Fortunately, it's not as complicated as it used to be.
For a long time, moving animals from one country to another meant an unbearably long quarantine, and that separation just wasn't an option for us. The laws have since changed, though, meaning that with the right paperwork, the right sequence of shots and the right timing, it's pretty easy for your pets to go right along with you on your move.
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The idea of bringing our two cats and two dogs to Ireland was intimidating. Do any kind of research and you'll undoubtedly find all kinds of horror stories that will likely make you think twice about doing it. For me, hearing those stories was nothing short of tear-inducing. I'm extremely close to my animals, my dogs in particular. The blessing of working from home means that I've been with them for most of their lives, since we brought them home as 8-week-old puppies. Cattle dogs are notoriously dedicated to their human companions as well, and that added to the stress. I wasn't sure how they were going to do on the trip, how they would face the noise, the unfamiliar surroundings, and the strange people.
And the cats were of equal concern. Our older cat was a rescue from a hoarder home, so at least she had some experience with chaos and noise. The younger one was picked up on the side of the road as a 4-week-old kitten, though, and he'd known nothing but coddling, quiet and warm sleeps. The thought of them on a plane, by themselves ... it was honestly the most terrifying part of the move.
But in the end it was fine.
The first thing we did was get a pet shipper. The requirements for entry into another country can change at any time, and they're different based on where you're coming from and going to, and also depending on what kind of animal you're bringing.
No matter what you're going to end up needing to fill out dozens of forms, so, provided you can afford it, hiring a pet shipper to help schedule vet visits, review forms, and to book their flights is worth the few hundred dollars.
Reading though the forms, requirements and dates was a bit mind-numbing, but the actual process was easy. For the dogs, it was a few vet visits to get vaccinations and to be implanted with EU-specific microchips, which are different than those used in the U.S. Then there was bloodwork, lab tests, a dose of wormer, and finally an all-clear, with paperwork sent off to APHIS, the USDA's Animal and Plant Health Inspection Service. The cats were re-microchipped and re-vaccinated as well, and then their paperwork was sent off.
As that's all time-sensitive, it ended up being the most harrowing part of the process. Without APHIS-approved documents, pets are not allowed on the plane, and it all needs to be filled out, mailed overnight, and sent back within days of flying.
We got their paperwork back without a hitch and found a non-stop flight from Newark to Dublin with room for all four crates. We were on the same flight, and by the time we got our bags and our rental car in Dublin, they were waiting for us at the agricultural intake facility on the other end. When I walked in to get them, there were my special little guys, hanging out with the staff with wagging tails. The worry and the stress had been for nothing, and even though it was more expensive for them to fly than it was for us, it was worth every penny.
For more information on bringing your pets with you when you move to Ireland, visit the Citizens Information website here.
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Originally from Attica, NY Debra Kelly is a freelance writer and journalist who has seen most of the U.S. during her travels. Ready for something new, she's now living in the wild hills of Connemara with her husband and plenty of animals. She is a frequent contributor to Urban Ghosts, Listverse and Knowledgenuts. You can read her most recent IrishCentral article, about moving from Buffalo to Connemara, here.
* Originally published in December 2015.