Are you a member of my India Travel Tips group on Facebook? On there, people can share their experiences and ask questions. One girl, Kathrin, spent time volunteering with animals in Agra, India and took a dog home with here to the Netherlands. I asked her to share the process she went through to take a pet from India to Europe. Keep in mind, this is her experience, so it might not necessarily be the easiest or cheapest way AND each country in Europe has different rules: this post is specifically Agra to the Netherlands. When I leave India, I will take my pets, so I was quite curious about her experience. Here’s Kathrin!
The Steps to Take a Pet From India to Europe: This Example is Agra to The Netherlands
India – A land of diversity, rich cultural heritage, beautiful monuments, land of spirituality. True, it can mesmerize anyone but on the other hand, you also see a lot of poverty and a lot of strays on the streets – some in good condition and some, well, not so. If you are an animal lover like me, it might happen that you become very attached to an animal you meet in India, either in a shelter or on the streets. The eyes of a dog or a cat can speak volumes and truly break your heart. At that moment, the only wish in your heart is to take it home with you and give it a better life. The life circumstances on the street are so tough and dangerous, you will have this powerful urge to help and provide a safe home for the animal. But it would be wise to take a moment to reflect upon your wish. Explore deeply if it is really the best option for the animal and for yourself. Taking the animal away from its natural surrounding can be traumatizing for the animal also and if you know you will not be able to give 100% to the animal which you want to adopt, then please pull back and weigh the options.
Explore deeply if it is really is the best option for the animal and for yourself. Every pet animal is a great personal responsibility. You could either:
- Adopt an animal – Once you have made up your mind and are fully committed to adopting the animal, then please go ahead. You will have to take the help of the local animal shelter till you prepare the papers and the said animal goes through the entire legal process. Below I have explained the process of adoption that I personally went through.
- Sponsor an animal – Another option could be to sponsor the animal and leave it in a safer place and let it stay in its natural surroundings. Most animal shelters might not take in healthy dogs because shelters are generally there for abandoned, sick or injured animals but you can always talk to the shelter head and come to a solution. Generally, they will ask you a sponsorship fee for keeping the animal in the shelter. You can check out the place I volunteered at (PFA Agra) or you can choose from this list of places in Goa. Almost every city in India will have some type of NGO helping animals. Do some research and see which are the best.
Here’s my dog who I took home with me:
If you really commit yourself to adopting the animal(s) (option number one above) and taking them with you out of India, you’ll need to follow certain guidelines and steps in order to achieve this. This article is based on my personal experience and may be of help as a rough How-To-Guide for an international adoption and how to take a pet from India to Europe; in particular in this case the Netherlands. Some countries are more or less strict in Europe so keep that in mind and do research the country you are going to.
The first step is to understand that the animal has to be 100% healthy and fit to fly. Pugs or other dogs with a short snout are most likely not fit to fly (restrictions on specific breeds may apply). The typical Indian street dog (desi dog) will, however, have almost surely a snout that is just fine. Any animal that leaves India must be free of diseases. Disabilities like missing limbs, or overcome diseases are to my experience, not a problem. Still many disabled and sick animals will not get this exclusive chance and stay behind.
***The minimum expense that you should foresee for bringing one pet from India to Europe which includes all the paperwork, microchipping, pet boarding for 3 months and flight expense should be around Eur 2500-3000. It can be more depending upon the options and extras that you choose for your rescue.
1. Consult with a local vet
To establish the actual health status of the animal you must consult a veterinary doctor and present the animal to him/her for a full health check, including microchipping, a blood test, and a European standard anti-rabies shot. It might be clever to ask about the fees and time schedules for microchipping, vaccination and blood sampling before hand.
In case you are rescuing an animal from the streets, especially an animal with special needs you may be granted a certain special “rescue rate” from the vet. You can always team up with local animal shelters and animal welfare NGOs, they might advise and help you further in exploring the options for that animal.
2. Rabies blood titer, send abroad & getting ready for quarantine
As a first step, a blood test will be sampled and sent to a certified lab for analysis abroad. This is the time where you can start to investigate how and where you will be arranging the quarantine before taking the animal out of the country. Quarantine time is usually half a year, counted from the date of the rabies vaccine. If you have a home with the pet in India, you can “quarantine” at home.
If you are not able to provide a place yourself for the animal during quarantine, you may ask the vet or a local animal welfare organization to help you further. You will need to find a so-called pet boarding service, or “pet and breakfast”. These are small companies or individuals who take care of the animal in your absence. Rates may differ, during the week and for weekends, “extras” may be charged for example for bathing and grooming your pet. Note: this might well be one of the biggest chunks, financially speaking. Try and find someone who commits to regular contact and exchange of news about the animal. It will be a great need of yours to know how the pet is doing and you will want to employ someone who reports to you and is easily accessible by Whatsapp or Facetime. This caretaker is a very important personal contact when it comes to the time of departure and also in between when checkups or treatments are required by the local veterinary doctor.
3. Get paperwork in hand, printed and organized
Once you get the rabies titer blood test results confirmed, you ask for the document as a high res file and store it well digitally and also as a printout. All health certificates from the vet need to be filed properly. You will, in the end, have a whole bunch of papers to present to the customs. The cleaner and meticulous your files are compiled, the better. it makes a good impression.
4. Book a flight & buy the right crate
Step by step you can now check with your airline to alter your ticket and book your pet as extra luggage to your personal flight ticket. The airline will accept your pet only with valid papers and in a flight-proof crate.
Select a pet carrier that is Airline compliant. Specifications for the crate depend on the size and weight of the animal are often mentioned on the airlines internet pages about luggage. Double check with the vet. The crate needs to be purchased and ready for the day of departure. It’s good to call and have a real conversation with someone from the airline to confirm your ticket data is showing the pet(s) as extra luggage. You most likely can take several animals on one personal flight ticket! Your flight should be a direct flight.
5. Get an agencies help so it’s all done correctly
There are agencies who can help you with all the paper work. In my case, I used an agency called Petfly in Delhi. Their service is to collect all official documents, file them, and get them officially approved as well as being present at the airport and accompany the pet into the area of customs whilst you check in for your home bound journey. Petfly was collaborating with the vet and providing assistance at the airport itself so that I knew that I won’t have problems with Indian custom authorities. I can recommend Petfly, they are operating in different regions of India.
6. Head home with your pet!
Lastly, the day of departure will come. Get a driver who is willing to drive your pet(s) to the airport even though it might puke or poop in his car. Best thing would be to have the animal already in sitting the crate once you head for the airport. At the airport it is important you know how find the special desk to check in your pet animal(s). To have an agency like Petfly next to you helps a lot.
In my case after landing and leaving the plane, the dogs were already waiting next to the luggage belt before the first suitcases showed up. They were doing fine and looked alright. Make sure you are being very nice to your local customs officers – they are the last possible hurdle of your journey. Again, a clean and presentable file dossier helps a lot. You do not have to pay tax on your dogs – in case you are a breeder or you plan on selling the animal(s) taxes would apply.
I myself have brought two dogs from India to the Netherlands in 2016. One dog came from PFA Agra, a place that is very dear to me and that offers great volunteer opportunities for animal lovers. PFA Agra has made a small video of the journey of “Alice” the dog that I wanted so much to come to Holland since she has only two legs. If you like to become a volunteer for PFA Agra, please send a mail to email@example.com
Good luck with your animal rescue, your international adoption endeavors! I wish you all the best and happiness with your furry friends. Let’s not forget, borders and countries are only constructed terms by humans – don’t we all live in one world and share this place together? Love knows no borders and travels far. By: Kathrin Simonsmeier, Volunteer, and Supporter of PFA Agra