Our Labrador gained another pound for her international check-up at Friendship Animal Hospital yesterday. Rick McGranahan is the international pet shipping specialist at the hospital and he was very helpful with us getting the right forms completed.
As I mentioned in a previous post, the Kolkata airport customs is different than other airports in India. Instead of sending her cargo, we have to send her as accompanied baggage. The hardest part in making this happen is working with the airlines, since with each of the 15+ times we called we got a different answer.
What we did learn with dealing with the airlines, is that the main reservations desk tends to be more up-to-date with pet policies than cargo. From our current information, United and Luftansa will allow for a pet and crate (weight combined) to be checked as accompanied baggage for up to 150 pounds (subject to change!).
We had two appointments at Friendship Animal Hospital one a little over a month ago to get a new rabies shot and the one yesterday for completion of the forms needed for customs.
India requires three documents (subject to change!): a rabies certificate with the vaccination more than 30 days old but less than one year old, a USDA certification and a Government of India certification. Rick had prepared the forms, so after the vet examined Coco and signed, I drove to Annapolis to get the USDA official signature.
You can FedEx the USDA form to the Annapolis office and they will send it FedEx back the next day, but because our post also needs copies of these forms several days prior to our arrival, but they can't be more than 10 days old from when Coco lands in Kolkata, the best plan for us was to drive. Whew!
To add more to the process, we are stopping in NYC for DHS consultations so instead of flying Coco to NY to Kolkata with a two day layover in NY, one of us is flying back to D.C. to get on the same flight with her from D.C. to Kolkata. We had to cost-construct this option, but luckily it was a similar price.
To help us with this twist, the hero for the day(s) is Club Pet International, another highly recommended company in the D.C. area. Coco will be boarding there for three days, they will then prepare her and her crate, and bring her to meet us at the airport.
If we were able to send her cargo Club Pet International would have taken care of all details or just the services selected, as needed. From our dealings with then so far, they are an exceptional organization.
With everything lined up, we are crossing our fingers for a painless experience. We will post more about the actual shipping hopefully with a very simple and short finale.