This is probably the longest stretch I have gone MIA on my blog. All in good reason, of course!
It has been quite the summer with all sorts of ups and downs. The biggest stress I encountered was getting our rescue dog Chico out of Dubai all in one week’s time!
First, I will give you a quick backstory on Chico! We rescued him 3 years ago from the most disturbing conditions imaginable. He was living with 7 other animals. They had not been properly fed or provided with water in weeks. They were never let out of the house. The inside of the home was covered in animal and human feces. It was so dangerous I had to wear a protective mask when I went to get him out.
Chico was the first animal that the rescue group was instructed to put down by a vet. After a good bath I sat with him on my lap. His heart was starting to fail.
I thought to myself, I will take him home and give him some love and let him go in a peaceful way. A few days passed and Chico’s health was improving. I am sure it was the good dose of LOVE. I was eventually able to persuade my husband to allow the children and I to keep him. We were told by another vet that he would not live until Christmas that year. Three years later, this dog is still kicking! He is healthier now than he was 3 years ago! He recently had his blood work done and the vet said he is like a young dog.
Chico recently turned 13. And I have decided to move him to Vienna because…well…I myself will be back and forth living in Vienna due to personal reasons which I will later disclose.
Getting a dog out of the UAE can be downright the most stressful thing!
The rules can be very restricted and the entire process, incredibly daunting (if you are not prepared). But when there is a will, there is ALWAYS a way! Chico has had one heck of a miserable life before he we adopted him. This dog has seen it all and I was not about to abandon the poor thing. In fact, I have NO idea how anyone could do this to their dog. A dog becomes part of the family. Would you leave your child behind? I didn’t think so!!!!!
If you go through an agency, of course the process will be easy peasy but could run you upwards of 8,000 AED (and that’s on the cheaper side). If you try and do it yourself to save money (in my case I saved over 6,000 AED) then I am here to help you!
It really bothers me how people A) buy dogs in Dubai B) rescue dogs in Dubai only to abandon them again when they decide to move back home or to a new country! How unfair and what a terrible example, they are setting for their children. The kennels are literally overflowing with dogs and cats because it seems that this is a popular occurrence in the summer. For one, people are not willing to pay to board their pet while they are away on holiday and two not willing to pay the expenses or put in the time to export their pet. Shameful is all I can say. Why take a pet in the first place!
I could not possibly imagine leaving Chico behind. But I will be honest, we almost DID have to at one stage, but I fought tooth and nail for this NOT to happen! Reason being, Chico is a mix of Shih Tzu + Lhasa Apso. Two breeds that are totally forbidden to travel in cargo!
The children and I cried and cried and cried. We felt helpless, our poor doggy! What on earth could we do? But let’s forget about that part for now and focus on the important documents you need to obtain.
Here goes the paperwork process and then I will get into the airline options!
I went to the Dubai Municipality branch for our dog in Khawaneej (near Mirdif).
#1 microchip, but I am sure if you are a responsible pet owner by now your animal would already have one! Make sure your pet has had a rabies shot in the last year, if the vaccine is outdated then you need to give yourself exactly 21 days from the time it was administered until you can travel (so do it the month before you know you will fly). Check with the country you are bringing your pet into, they may need a rabies test after the vaccine. The vet at the municipality will give an EU certificate (should you be traveling to Europe) or if you are going to another country, then print the form. Here is a link. On top of all this, you will have a vet check (veterinary health certificate). The certificate is only valid for one month. So at this time you need to work quickly. You will be given a deworming pill + Frontline which you have to give a few days prior to travel (48 hours). Say you do the rabies vaccine plus get all the necessary documents, Frontline and pill this will cost a total of 270 AED. Once you have done this step you have ONE more!
Ministry of Climate Change & Environment:
Go to the Ministry of Climate Change & Environment in Cargo Village near the Dubai airport. It is in building 2 and called ‘Veterinary Quarantine Center’. When you get there, you will use, their computer to fill out an online form (it’s easier to do it there as I found it very confusing at home). DON’T forget your passport, UAE ID AND papers from the municipality that you previously did! The online form will cost 400 AED. Once this is printed the vet will check your animal and give you another veterinary health certificate for live animals and certify your (in my case EU) certificate. This costs roughly 314 AED. This is valid for one month as well. But to be on the safe side complete this the week you are traveling. If you are lucky enough to have Dr. Moises F. Acosta then I assure you the process will be smooth sailing. He is such a kind gentleman and I am so happy I had him to aid me in the process. Now you are DONE!
The total for all necessary vaccines & paper work from both Municipality + Ministry is:
Choosing An Airline:
Now the trickiest part (for me) was to find out what airline to take our pet on! He was banned from nearly all cargo options. Somehow from the grace of God, I thought I would give it a try with Air France. Sure enough, he was allowed to fly and EVEN in cabin (as his weight with soft carrier was roughly 7 KG). If you have a small animal I highly suggest trying with a European airline. If you suffer from anxiety, depression, panic attacks etc, it is even worth it to visit a psychiatrist who can write you a letter (use this template here). Make sure it is on a letterhead. This document allows you to fly with your pet in the cabin! The term is called an ‘Emotional Support Animal’. But remember you will need a soft carrier and double check the dimensions + weight allowed for pet in the cabin with the airline you decide to fly with because each one can be slightly different! Other options that were my backup would have been Turkish Airways & KLM.
Don’t ever give up hope because every time I had something crossed off my list I found out I needed another paper and it was very frustrating. At times I wanted to give up. But DON’T! I promise it will all work out in the end! And remember, your animal is part of your family. Imagine how your kids would react if they found out you had to give your dog away? Please don’t stoop to this level!
My husband works with a local airline so I had standby tickets. First, we tried every single option possible with Emirates. They were not going to budge, even with Sky Cargo. His breed was simply restricted and there was no way around it. We tried day after day speaking to various staff members. Each time with a tiny glimpse of hope and then we were told there was a 90-100% chance he would die in cargo. We knew this was not the way to go. Hence why I researched the European airlines.
I tried night after night with Air France. The first night I brought the kids, we could not get on so we drove home after midnight all with sad faces. The following evening I tried again with Air France. I asked my kind neighbors to watch Ruby & Nate in the morning until my husband would be home from work. Yes, I went to quite the lengths to get this dog to safety. Some may even call me batty. The flight departed at 12:50am. I arrived at the airport by 9:30pm! Very early I know, but apparently they sometimes do ‘first come, first serve’ for standby. What a stressful 2 hours I was waiting. As 11:30pm approached, I was ready to start biting my nails! I was nervously waiting by the check in counter. Praying and crossing every bone in my body in hopes I would be accepted. My chances looked terrible. I was flat out told NO you cannot fly because you will be stuck at immigration with the dog. My heart sunk.They were taking families of 4 + and there I was alone with my 13 year old dog and we were being denied. I kept begging them and told them I would manage and that I absolutely had to get on the flight! I think I stressed them so much they finally got fed up and gave me a ticket in the last possible second.
The gates were closing within minutes. I still had to get to immigration and take a train to my gate! I didn’t think twice that I wouldn’t make it, I only thought HOW fast could I do it? I breezed through immigration quickly and flashed my vet papers with all the required stamps and I was DONE! Okay, that’s exaggerating because I was frantic and almost freaking out telling them I needed to GO FAST I didn’t have time to wait! And guess what…I beat all the standby people to the gate even though I was the last one to get my ticket. I ran so fast, even with heels (they were only small booties) plus my 7 KG dog! I would have blown away Usein Bold! When I got to the gate, the ground staff was impressed with my abilities! They were SHOCKED to see me standing there! BUT as they say ‘It ain’t over til’ the fat lady sings’…
I was once again REMOVED from standby. I stood at the gate, tears filling up my eyes. Chico looked up at me in desperation. What on EARTH were we going to do now? I cried, I shook! My anxiety was off the rail. I begged them to please, please let me on! But it seemed there were more restrictions being thrown my way. Apparently they did not like my carrier bag, but I told them it was airline approved (it’s true! I got it from Ace). Finally, they said fine! GO! HURRY! RUN! 5 minutes before the airplane doors closed shut for take off!
Let me tell you! I was sweating BUCKETS! The anxiety and stress of getting on this flight was unreal. But it all paid off, I was even given a premium economy seat! I was so desperate I would have sat in the lavatory to get my dog to Vienna haha! So there I was on my way to Charles De Gaulle (Paris).
Chico my little senior doggy sat like a perfect angel for 6 hours in his carrier bag. Not once did he cry, bark or make an accident. I think he knew the length of work I had gone through to get him to Europe and I could see in his old cataract eyes he was grateful.
(really hard to see this photo as it is so dark, but that is how Chico was in his carrier bag at my feet on the plane)
We landed in Paris. I had under one hour to get to my new departure gate (2 F) after disembarking. I also had to get another standby ticket for Paris to Vienna PLUS pass immigration again! More running was involved! Customs didn’t even say anything about Chico in my bag and I flew through. I managed it in the knick of time! I got to my gate huffing and puffing! Poor Chico had not been to the bathroom now in close to 10 hours! I had lined his carrier bag with those type of medical pads you get at the hospital for mattresses. I thought I could take a fresh one out of my bag and put it on the bathroom floor and he could try to go. But we had no time! They were calling us to get on the flight! Our journey to Vienna was roughly 1.5 hours. Again Chico was just perfect. And I guess all my efforts for the dog paid off! I was upgraded to business! Positivity and a smile can go a LONG way!
We finally arrived in Vienna! It had now been over 12 hours since we entered Dubai airport (terminal 1). My darling Chico never went to the bathroom until we exited the airport in Vienna! I was so relieved because that was one of my biggest concerns (plus passing immigration with him). Could you imagine the embarrassment on a flight if that had happened? When we left the airport in Vienna we were never checked as I had already passed customs in Paris. The entire journey (albeit stressful with the standby tickets) was pleasantly smooth. If you do not have access to standby tickets, buy a confirmed ticket with either Air France, KLM, Swiss, Lufthansa etc. (plus way less stressful). I am sure if you do your research in advance, you could get reasonably priced tickets! To check your dog in cargo is a fraction of the price than with Emirates (although I do LOVE to fly with them). If I remember correctly cargo is around $150 USD (and don’t forget my pet in cabin idea). It is crucial you tell the airline at least 48 hours before that you will be traveling with your animal.
My journey was still not over though! I dropped off Chico with a family member and jumped back on the airplane with Emirates (Vienna to Dubai). I got home exactly 24 hours later to my other babies. I managed it! All this to keep our family together! But it was so worth it! The children were ecstatic.
I wish you the safest journey! I hope this post will help you if you are in the same shoes as I was!
I would like to say a BIG thank you to Barbara from Rescue Animals in Need United Arab Emirates your guidance and support meant the world to me! As well as my neighbors Felicity & Victor for watching Ruby & Nate on my crazy journey to Vienna!
Look at how happy Chico is in Austria!