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Moving Countries with your Pet Series : USA to Singapore | Singapore to USA

17 Aug 2018

Our second Moving with your Pets Series covers transporting your dog and cat between The USA and Singapore. While the distance maybe long, it's far shorter than the heartbreak your pet will feel if they are left behind, so we hope these real-life experiences will offer reference and guidance to keep your furry family members together.

 

USA TO SINGAPORE via KLM

Jennica Lutz and her husband moved from Minnesota, USA to Singapore with their two dogs and one 15 year old cat back in January 2014.  Since living in Singapore, they have adopted a third dog to their family.  Here’s how they prepared and carried out their move with all their pets from Minnesota, USA to Singapore.

 

LD: How many dogs do you have in your family, what are their breeds and where did you adopt or get them from?

JL: We have three mix breed, adopted dogs: Helix, Haisley, and Goofy.  Helix and Haisley were both adopted in the US from MARS (Midwest Animal Rescue & Services) and Goofy was adopted in Singapore at SOSD Singapore.  We also have a black cat we adopted in the US named Feynman.

 

LD: How long were you living in the US with your dogs and when did you move to Singapore?  How much time did you get to plan your move?

JL: We adopted Helix in 2009 when we were newly married and Haisley in 2010 (Haisley was a foster fail).  Feynman had been my husband's cat for years before we got married, so of course became our cat when we moved in together.  My husband was traveling to Asia frequently for work, so his company asked us to move to Singapore in January 2014.  Luckily, we knew for about a year that we were going to be moving, so had plenty of time to plan our move with the animals. 

 

Feynman the cat is now 19 years old, he was around 15 years old when we flew to Singapore.  Because of his age, we asked the vet if it was better to have my husband's parents take him or for him to go with us but the vet said he would be more traumatized if he had to get used to a new home.  The dogs and cat are great friends too, and he was fit to travel. So Feynman traveled in his own crate with the dogs and he took the whole trip in stride, much better than the dogs.

LD: Did you move your pets on your own or through a Pet Transporter?  Why did you choose to use a Pet Transporter or do on your own?

JL: I was so worried about moving the animals that we hired a Pet Transporter.  Singapore has so many regulations about shots, quarantine, etc that I wanted to make sure everything was done 100% correctly so we didn't have any issues getting the animals into the country. Everything went smoothly and I got updates and pictures from the transporters throughout the animal's journey, which helped calm my nerves a bit (as well as many glasses of wine).

 

LD: Have you moved countries with your pets before? From where to where?

JL: This was our first international move.

 

LD: Can you run us through the process of moving your dog –

 

 a.  A list of things you purchased and if you can recommend any products

JL:

1. Airline crates (check with the airline if it has any size specifications)    

2. An extra set of the bolts for the crate in case any were lost

3. Dry Fur pads for the crates, which were supposed to suck moisture up so the dogs wouldn't be wet if they had to go to the bathroom in the crate

4. Collapsible rubber bowls for all the crates for water and food.  We were told to freeze water in the water bowls so the water wouldn't spill and would just melt over time for them to drink, rubber bowls worked better than plastic.

5. I bought stickers and decorated their crates with their names.  I also put personalized notes on each crate about the animals and our direct contact information. 

6. I also put in each of their crates some of my gym clothes so they had something that really smelled like me in case that helped calm them during transport.

    

b.    Checklist of paperwork required and how much time did it take? 

JL: Our transporter did all this for us, which was very nice.  We were just told when we needed to take the animals to the vet for shots/tests, so the timeline was correct on the paperwork.  If you want to do the 10-day quarantine here in Singapore I believe the timeline is about 6 months from the US.  Here is a nice timeline for moving animals from the US to Singapore on our pet transporter's site: https://www.petrelocation.com/country/singapore.

 

LD: Which airline did you use and how was the experience with them? How long was the entire journey?

JL: Our pet transporter recommended we use either Lufthansa or KLM, because both have very fancy pet facilities at their hubs and the animals could get out of their crates and rest for a bit in Europe.  We used KLM and they were wonderful.  They let us personally transport our animals to their cargo holding facility so I could see what it looked like and where the animals were before they boarded the plane (It was freezing the day we left and I was terrified they would be left in the cold).  When they saw I might have a complete meltdown in their office, they let me sit with the animals in the middle of the office for a while. Our animals were traveling for almost two days, there was a 12 hour layover in Amsterdam (where they are let out of crate, checked by vet and fed), before they reached Singapore safely. I packed some food for them although there is no guarantee that it will arrive with them.

 

LD: What kind of pre-travel training did you do for your dog?

JL: We did about three months of crate training.  Started with the crate tops off with comfortable blankets in the crate and treats when they would sit in the crates.  Then we put the crate tops on without the doors and got them used to sitting in the crates that way. Finally, we would put them in the crates and close the doors and go upstairs out of their sight for a few hours and they had to just sit in the crates quietly.  It was very hard at first because they would bark and cry, but over time they would just go in the crates and take a nap.

LD: How easy was it for your dog to adjust to their new home?

The animals had to stay for 10 days in Singapore quarantine when they arrived, which was hard.  When they were released and came to our new house they seemed to adjust pretty quickly.  We started taking them on short walks to get them used to the heat (when we moved from Minnesota there was about a metre of snow on the ground), but they seemed to really like the new environment and all the smells.  Tree iguanas and geckos are a huge hit with the dogs and cat (except the cat tries to eat the geckos).  I am home a lot more in Singapore and we hired an amazing helper who the animals adore, so they get LOTS of attention and yummy homemade treats.

 

LD: How much did your move cost in total? If you did the move on your own, how much do you think you saved?

JL: We were very lucky and the cost of our move and the animal's move was covered by my husband's company.  It cost around USD$13,000 to move all three animals.  Our dogs are big, so one required an extra large crate and the other a giant crate so this really increased the cost.  Now, we have three large dogs so it will definitely cost more if we move again.

LD: We consider pets as our family. But sometimes people get worried and leave their pet behind.  What’s the one thing you’d like to say to such people so that they would reconsider? 

JL: Your animal will be so much better off moving with the family they know and love than being left behind wondering what they did wrong.  It is scary to move them, but it is only a short time in their life and as soon as they see you they will forget how they got there and just be happy they are with you!    

 

SINGAPORE TO THE USA via UNITED AIRLINES

 

Carrie Voyer and her husband moved from Singapore to California in September 2017 with their two dogs.  They had originally moved to Singapore from Canada with their dogs in December 2013.  Here's how they handled the move between the three countries with two dogs and within four years.

LD: How many dogs do you have in your family, what are their breeds and where did you adopt or get them from?

CV: Two dogs: Jasper a male Beagle cross Maltese (10 yrs old) and Cora a female King Charles Cavalier (6 yrs old).  Jasper we got as a puppy in Canada back in 2008 and Cora we got as a puppy from a US breeder in 2012.

 

LD: How long were you living in Singapore before you moved?  How much time did you get to plan your move?

CV: We moved our dogs twice, once from Canada to Singapore in 2013 and then from Singapore to USA in 2017.  With both moves we started planning about 4 months out.  We researched the immigration requirements for the country we were moving to, things like: was there quarantine, what type of paper work/shots for the dogs was required, what airlines transport pets, were there any direct flights. 

 

LD: Did you move your pets on your own or through a Pet Transporter? Why did you choose to use a Pet Transporter or do on your own?

CV: We used a pet transporter for both moves.  Once I had a good understanding of what was required for the move, I knew what type of questions to ask the pet transporters, so I could better compare services and what was included.  In Canada we used Worldwide Animal Travel and in Singapore we used Pet Embassy Relocators.

 

LD: Have you moved countries with your pets before? From where to where?

CV: We’ve only done the two moves – but they were big ones!

 

LD: Can you run us through the process of moving your dogs – a list of things you purchased and if you can recommend any products

CV: We had to purchase the dog crates (one for each dog) and water containers that secured inside each crate.  I would recommend getting a crate 2 x larger than your dog. You don’t want your pet not having enough room to move around and the extra space also helps with ventilation.  Check the airline you are flying to ensure the crate you are buying meets their standards.  I had to buy ones that had tie-down openings, all 4 sides of the crate had to have venting and only one door.   The pet transporter supplied the shredded paper that lined the crate.  They did suggest I put in the crate a blanket or T-shirt that had our scent on it, so there was something familiar for the dogs.

LD: Do you have a checklist of paperwork required (online site people can refer to).  How much time did it take? 

CV: We found it depends on the country you are moving to as to how much paperwork and time you need.  Singapore is stricter than the US, due to their quarantine and therefore required us to prepare early.  If you sent your paperwork in advance and got approval you only had to quarantine your pet for 10 days, if you decided to not go through the pre-approval your pet could be quarantined for up to 30 days.  Due to the quarantine requirement, you must notify the authorities and ‘book’ your pets spot.  Due to all these requirements we started 4 months out before our move date.  This allowed us time to get all the health checks, approvals and bookings.  Not only did we have to get the quarantine reservation, you must notify and reserve your pet with the airlines.  Many airlines can only take so many pets on each flight in Cargo.  This is why we used a pet transporter – they did all this coordination and approval process for us.   We used Worldwide Animal Travel for our move from Canada to Singapore.  We just needed to take our pets to the Vet and confirm with Worldwide Animal Travel the dates we wanted to fly.

 

Moving from Singapore to the US was easier as the US has no quarantine for animals coming from Singapore.  We still used a pet transporter, Pet Embassy Relocators in Singapore.  I still started preparing 4 months out.  Once we had our flights booked, Embassy Pet Transporter did the rest. They took our pets to the Vet to get all the required shots and paperwork, arranged for a US pet transporter to meet our dogs upon arrival and take them through the US immigration process.  We just had to pick our dogs up from the US pet transporter.  Pet Embassy Relocators provided additional water containers in the dog crates to ensure they had tons of water.  From Singapore to the US, you could probably start planning 1 month out.  Because this was our first time moving to the US I was overly cautious.

 

LD: Which airline did you use and how was the experience with them? How long did the entire journey take?

CV: From Canada to Singapore we used KLM.  From Singapore to US (San Francisco) we used United.  Cora, our King Charles Cavalier is considered a short nose breed and as such many airlines will not transport such a breed.  Luckily for us KLM and United still do and we found both airlines good.  No issues at all.  United was a direct flight from Singapore to San Francisco and took about 17.5 hrs.  The KLM flight was Vancouver to Amsterdam and Amsterdam to Singapore.  We chose this route due to KLM having a pet hotel right at the Amsterdam airport.  All pets are removed from their crates, the crates cleaned, and each animal inspected by a Vet to ensure they can continue on the next flight.  If there are any concerns, the animal will be held until the Vet gives the OK.  Both pet transport companies provided updates to us along the way.  In Amsterdam we were provided pics of our dogs and confirmation they made their next flight, so we knew when to expect our animals in Singapore.

 

LD: What kind of pre-travel training did you do for your dogs?

CV: I assembled the crates and kept them in our main living area for the 4 months prior to our move.  I would give the dog treats every time they entered the crates.  I would then progress to feeding them in their crates and eventually got to a point where I would close the door to the crate and let them sleep in there.  If your dog is already crate trained you wouldn’t have to do such a lengthy transition.  Our dogs have free reign at our house and sleep in our bed, so for them the crate was very new.

 

LD: How easy was it for your dogs to adjust to their new home? 

CV: Singapore was probably a bigger change on the dogs than California.  In Singapore it was the dogs first time flying, being quarantined and living in an apartment.  Coming from Canada, our dogs were used to a home with a backyard.  Now they had to learn what the elevator is all about.  The staff at AVA in Singapore were great and the facility is very well kept, I think this is why our dogs did well with the first move.  They had loving people at AVA around them.  I think it is important, if you are going to move and there is a quarantine you prepare your dogs with boarding or kennel stays in your current country first.  If your pets have only experienced life at home and never been put into doggy daycare or boarding they may feel more stressed with the quarantine.  Our two dogs were used to having a few days or a week at boarding as we went on holidays, so quarantine was just another stay and they knew we would be picking them up soon.

 

When we moved to California the dogs showed no signs of stress.  There was no quarantine, so the dogs are out of the crate once they land and are through immigration.  We were there to pick them us and they were happy to see us.  We went on a good long walk to stretch their legs and for them to smell and get acquainted with their new home.    

 

LD: How much did your move cost in total? If you did the move on your own, how much do you think you saved?

CV: It cost nearly SGD$4,000 total for 2 dogs. This included the Vet checks, Custom documentation, Export Fees, Transportation fees and the Air freight charge.  If I did the move on my own I think I might have saved a total of $500.00 to $800.00. 

LD: We consider pets as our family. But sometimes people get worried and leave their pet behind… what’s the one thing you’d like to say to such people so that they would reconsider?

CV: I believe it is less stressful on your pet to have one day of travel to their new home with their family that they know and love then to be left behind wondering if you are coming back.  Pets take time to adjust to a new owner and home and I believe this can be more stressful than a flight.  Your pet will get used to their new environment, probably better and quicker than you do.  I believe some people think the move is too stressful, that it would be easier to leave their pet behind and they justify it by saying ‘it’s better for the animal to stay’ or ‘it’s too costly’ these are just excuses.  Please take it from me, our dogs adjusted super quick, I found the moves stressful and I am happy I had my dogs to comfort me.  In each country I moved, I have met some of my best human friends through my dogs.  I would be walking my dogs, getting used to my new home and running into people with their dogs, next thing you know we are friends.  I don’t think I would have gotten to know these people if it wasn’t for my dogs. 

 

We hope these interviews so far have helped you and do feel free to share it. The Moving Countries with your Pet series will continue with the next move covering moving between Singapore and other Asian countries. If you would like to share your experience please email us at: customerservice@loyald.com

 

 

 

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