Sun, 23 Apr 2000

A guide to moving your pet out of Indonesia

By Maria Kegel

Should your pet stay behind or come with you when you move to another country or return home?

For some people, the decision entails careful thought, especially with regard to the situation, the destination and the pet's adaptability.

For others, there is no doubt that Fido or Puss is coming along, even if there are hurdles of lengthy, expensive quarantines and transportation costs to meet.

It is admittedly difficult to find a new home for your pet, as most people are also in a temporary situation in a foreign country and must stay mobile.

And deep down as a pet owner, most people feel there is no other person who could love their cuddly pooch or adoring kitty more than them.

Local veterinarians Dr. Siti Zaenab, Dr. Gunadi Setiadarma and Dr. Ina Purborini Messakh, who are expert consultants on the matter of moving pets abroad, said if pets are left behind, it was more often cats than dogs.

One of the reasons why people do not take their pets comes down to the country they are headed to, they said.

"They have to consider the quarantine policy and charges," Dr. Siti said.

"Countries with a quarantine requirement are hard on both pet and owner. It breaks the owner's heart to be away from their pet, and six months is a long time in the lifespan of a dog or cat.

"Of course, the animal does not understand the situation. Some owners are also worried that the long quarantines might change the character of the animal," Dr. Siti and Dr. Ina said.

"One lady moved her two dogs and one cat to the UK during the winter, when quarantining was more expensive, as you have to pay for heat as well. We asked her just how much the bill came to, and it turned out to be more expensive than buying a small house here," Dr. Siti said.

Another owner going to South Africa painfully decided to have his cat put to sleep rather than take it with him.

"An owner can determine if their pet will suffer from the move, and then they have to take this sad alternative. Especially if the animal is older, it is not kind to find a new environment for it," Dr. Siti said.

However, they all said that at least 80 percent to 90 percent of owners did take their pets with them when they moved. Moving companies Crown, Worldwide Movers and Move Well agreed, saying pets were an important factor of a move.

Doug Slusher from Worldwide Movers said he understood most people consider their pets as children, and that during initial inquiries, clients ask first if the company handles pets.

"Owners need that reassurance that when they leave the animals with us, they're going to see them again in their original health," he said.

Vera from Crown Movers and Roy Soenasto from Move Well also said that pets were considered as important as family members when clients were moving.

Precious cargo

Because of their significance, Roy said, the choice of airlines was an important consideration when shipping pets. "KLM is the best for handling pets and are like a five-star hotel for them. At transit stops they feed and water them, and walk the dogs."

He said KLM was much better for longer trips, such as from Indonesia to the United States. Strong second choices for his company would be another European airline, such as Lufthansa.

"But to be on the safe side we fly them by KLM, unless the pet is checked in as excess baggage, in which case the owner can look after it themselves, or if it's a short flying distance of four or five hours," Roy said.

Travel bookings for pets, including the itinerary of the animal's departure, arrival and routing, were provided as part of the service through his moving company, Slusher said.

"For example, if the owners are going to Houston by United Airlines via Singapore, it would be best to send the animal separately by KLM via Amsterdam because it is the most direct flight back to the States."

Mr. Lee from Pet Movers Pte. Ltd. said, as Singapore is a quarantine country, animals going through there require a transshipment permit, which costs S$50.

Roy also said his company was selective in routing, keeping in mind the pet's best interest. "If the flight is less than four hours, we can use the normal cargo services. However, if it is a flight with a transit stop, we look for a more direct route."

Slusher added that owners shipping pets must provide a contact name and phone number of a person at the destination for the airline to contact prior to releasing their pets.

"Ask anyone with pets and they'll say they want the safest and quickest way back for their animals. They want to feel confident that you are really going to look after them, giving a full commitment of care to them all the way back to their new or original home," Slusher said.

Homeward bound

To meet the demand of moving pets past the obstacles of bureaucratic red tape and to their destination safely, moving companies as well as some local pet shops and veterinarians are ready and willing to help pet owners, from preparing all the necessary documents to delivering the animals to the airport.

Although the procedure can try anyone's patience, it is achievable whether done by yourself or through a service.

"Some people are surprised at all the documents needed to take animals out as other countries just require a health certificate," Dr. Siti said.

The process to take animals out of the country is the same for bringing animals in, they said.

Roy said clients usually did not want to deal with any of the documentation, while Slusher said the process, although straightforward in regards to obtaining documents, was tedious for someone to do alone.

"People will periodically say they can do it themselves. And you can, but time and energy is well spent by letting a professional do it," he said.

Teresa Daniels, an American expatriate who has left and moved back to Jakarta within the past five years, said she felt lucky in collecting the necessary documents for moving her cats.

"There were no problems at all, except it was a bit slow at the Ministry of Agriculture. I did encounter problems when dealing with the airline on the day of departure. It's a good idea to have someone with you to help at the airport," she said.

The process

Dr. Ina, Dr. Siti and Dr. Gunadi also have a service to move pets out of Indonesia, and they share the necessary steps to prepare your pet for travel.

If you handle the process yourself, they said it was advisable to bring photocopies of your passport, vaccination booklets and any documents and certificates you acquire to every government agency, the airlines and the cargo facility. 1) The first step is to make sure your pet has its vaccination booklet up-to-date.

Different countries have different requirements. However, for all countries, your pet must have had its rabies vaccine administered more than one month before and less than one year to the date of departure, they said.

Dr. Ina said some countries also require other vaccines, such as the UK and Australia, which request dogs have verification of their parvovirus, distemper, hepatitis and leptospirosis vaccinations.

As for cats, she said, it is advisable that panleukopenia, calici virus, rhinotracheitis and chlamydia vaccines are also included before travel. 2) The next step is to get a health certificate for your pet from your veterinarian. This can be done less than one month before your date of departure, as the export license it will help you acquire will be valid for 30 days, Dr. Ina said.

This will be the first of two you will need as health certificates are only valid for five days. The first one is needed for the process of obtaining the pet's export license, and the second for actual travel. 3) With your vaccination booklet, health certificate and photocopy of the owners' passport, go to the Department of Veterinary Science (Dinas Pertanakan) at Jl. Gunung Sahari No. 11.

Forms there need to be filled out to necessitate a document requesting the named animal or animals that are to be taken out of Indonesia.

After the license request is issued from Dinas Pertanakan, it is possible to get the export license. 4) With the license request document from Dinas Pertanakan, along with all the other mentioned papers, including another photocopy of your passport, make your way to the ninth floor of Building C at the Ministry of Agriculture (Departemen Pertanian) at Jl. Harsono RM No. 3, Ragunan.

From here, the export license will be issued. Export licenses are valid for 30 days from the date of issue.

Although going to Dinas Pertanakan and Departemen Pertanian can be tackled in the same day, all three veterinarians said do not be surprised if you need to spread it out over two.

"Sometimes you have to come back the next day as the person who needs to sign it is not there or is in a meeting," Dr. Ina said. 5) Just before your travel date, the second health certificate will be needed from your veterinarian. Keep in mind to time this so the validity of the certificate does not expire while travel is in progress. 6) On the same day of departure or one day before, bring your pet to the quarantine office either on Jl. Pondasi, Rawamangun, East Jakarta, or at Soekarno-Hatta Airport.

The second health certificate is needed for this stop.

The quarantine office will issue a quarantine permit health certificate for you to take along.

Dr. Samsuddin Yuda, a veterinarian at the Balai Karantina Hewan (Animal Quarantine Office) on Jl. Pondasi, said people could have their animals checked either at the quarantine office there up to two days beforehand or the officials could come out to check pets at the owner's house after the documents have been brought to the office.

"Get your animals checked at the quarantine office that is closest to your house, but there is no need to go to both quarantine offices," he said.

At the airport

You have two choices of transporting your pet: by excess baggage or cargo. After receiving your quarantine health permit at either quarantine office, head to either cargo or the ticket counter of your airlines on the date of departure.

If your pet is traveling as excess baggage, merely hand over your pets and papers at the ticket counter, Dr. Ina said. Kennel size requirements to bring your pet into the cabin vary with each airlines.

She said traveling by either cargo or by excess baggage is the same in the end for your pet. "They will end up in the same place in the plane, but it is just the point of entry which is different."

If you choose to fly your pet by cargo, be sure to allow an extra four hours on the date of departure and Dr. Ina also stressed it is a good idea to bring someone along for assistance.

After the airport quarantine office, head to the cargo offices. Once there, personnel will weigh and measure the kennel of your animal and charge you according to their fee schedule.

Slusher said the airlines will always charge whichever is greater; the volume metric weight or actual weight of the cage and animal. It usually is by volume metric weight, he said.

Dr. Ina said the fare is paid at the nearby bank counter, not at the cargo counter, and the receipt issued after the transaction will be needed to show to the personnel at cargo.

In addition to showing your receipt, show all your original papers, even the vaccination booklet. Sometimes they will attach the papers to the kennel of the animal, Dr. Ina said.