Review: Globetrotting Pets

Globetrotting Pets: An International Guide by Dr. David J. Forsythe

With few exceptions involving kennels and leashes, most of the advice in this well-written book applies to kids and pets: plan ahead, consider the needs of both the child/pet and the parent/owner, avoid bad water and the like. That said, I think I could make a credible argument that the parts about kennels and leashes wouldn't be the worst thing for some parents to read over either.

But I am doing a disservice to this book trying to be witty. I'll stop and suggest that if you are considering traveling or moving internationally with your pet, this 416-page paperback book will provide you with the information and resources you will need to make the experience safe and enjoyable for you and your pet. Just as we advise you not to depart without thinking through the things you need to do to ensure a good trip for your young ones, we suggest you work through this book for your and your pet's sake.

What's Inside

There are three sections to this book, each useful for different parts of your travel planning. We'll go into each one in more detail below:

  • Things to consider when deciding whether to take your pet with you;
  • Practicalities on international pet travel, such as airline regulations, shipping containers, vaccinations, food, things to pack, etc.;
  • Specific country-by-country information on bringing along your pet, with phone, FAX, email and web site information for literally everywhere (Afghanistan, North Korea, Palau as well as the UK, Canada and other slightly more common destinations).

Things to Consider

Without rehashing the jokes about advice for traveling with your pets sounding an awful lot advice for traveling with your kids, Globetrotting Pets offers tips that should be familiar to readers of this web site: “plan as much as you can while at home to have as much fun as you can while away” is a key sentence in the whole book.

Later chapters talk you through considerations such as the suitability of your pet for long distance travel (can she adapt to unfamiliar surroundings? Will she be OK for many hours without social interaction? Will she eat new foods?). Better yet, is your destination country a safe and pleasant place for your pet? (do the folks there keep and appreciate pets? See them as unclean, as food or as dangerous?). Not every country welcomes pets, and for some places, even if allowed, the work and red tape involved in bringing Itchy and Scratchy along may not be worth it.

Globetrotting Pets also invites you to work through some checklists to decide if traveling is right for you and your pet in terms of temperature and temperament (yours and hers) and ends with a line I wish was tattooed on the seatback the kid behind me is kicking as I type this on my laptop: “Do not expect your pet to act differently than at home just because you are on vacation in Europe.”

You can read a sample chapter online that delves into these issues at www.globetrottingpets.com/sample_chapter.html..

Practicalities on International Pet Travel

Once you have decided to take Peanut along, there are still many things to learn and evaluate. Globetrotting Pets will walk you through them, including the very specific requirements for air travel with a pet.

The section of the book on air travel is perhaps the most valuable, in that for almost all of us, international travel will involve airplanes at some point. Don't even think about showing up at the airport with Ruff on a leash and hoping to board—kennels approved for air travel must meet certain standards, having, for example, 14 percent of their wall space made up of ventilation, possess side rims with at least 0.75 inches of clearance and the like. Very practical stuff, to ensure the safety of your pet and the baggage handlers, but not info you could expect Biff in the Walmart pet aisle (“Um, I just transferred from garden supplies so I'll have to check”) to have handy.

There are also important sections on documentation needed to travel internationally. Almost all countries require very specific details of ownership and records of vaccinations and health problems. A couple of the most common documents are reproduced as an aid to your vet in getting started on the paperwork.

Finally, if all this is making your head feel like Biff's after a warm Pabst for breakfast, Globetrotting Pets also includes a list of five companies that, for a fee, do all the work of getting your pet moved from Country A to Country B. You need only to supply the credit card and chewie toy.

Country Specifics

A big question for any travel-related book is how to stay current; rules change, FAX numbers rise and fall. This book, like most good travel books these days, gets around this problem with extensive web site and email address listings for foreign embassies, pet moving companies, government agencies and everyone else. Read the intorductory chapters for the basics, check the country-specific pages for the details, then confirm changes through the web sites and this book will serve you for some years of petting and traveling.

Aimed largely at an American audience, this book includes a very useful chapter on coming home with your pet, with a lot of information on how U.S. Customs and Agriculture inspectors will view you returning to the U.S. with a pet that has been overseas. This same information is also very helpful to anyone otherwise traveling to the U.S. as their foreign destination.

Anything Else?

Though the book includes a helpful chapter on “exotic pets”, to include birds, reptiles, amphibians, turtles, primates and other furry things like ferrets, the emphasis here is clearly on dogs and cats. If you're shipping a featherless-type boa from Chicago to Madrid, you may need to look for additional information.

The only other mild criticism is on the country-specific section. Including the country names in the page headers and footers would make it easier to locate a place you are thinking of visiting with your pet.

Conclusion

This is a well-written, practical book that will serve as an excellent guide to the planning and successful international travel of your pet. The combination of philosophy, details and country-specific information is spot on, and I recommend it to anyone contemplating taking their pet (or maybe their kids…) across international borders.

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