Moving 5,700 miles from New Mexico to Italy required a lot of decision-making in the past several months, not the least of which was how to get a spoiled and stubborn but super sweet yellow Labrador across the Atlantic.
As best I could determine, I had three options for moving my dog from the U.S. to Italy: on an airplane as a certified emotional support animal; on an airplane in the cargo hold; and on A Queen Mary 2 (QM2) transatlantic crossing from New York to Southampton, England. The latter option, obviously, would also have required additional methods of transportation to and from the docking points but it was still my first choice when I started planning my move.
The QM2 has a couple dozen kennels and allows dogs and cats to travel in them on some of their one-way Transatlantic sailings. I thought sailing across the ocean blue would not only be a better option than flying for my Lab, Bodhi, but also would be a wonderful adventure for the two of us. And even though I would probably have to drive Bodhi from New Mexico to New York and then from England to Italy, it was what I wanted to do – until I learned that the right-size kennels for Bodhi were booked until 2021. (Delaying my move for two years was not considered – not even for a moment!)
The emotional support animal option was not viable either because while Bodhi definitely provides me with emotional support, he is not a certified support animal and because he likes to try to greet everyone he sees and barks at strange noises, having him in an airplane cabin with me would actually cause me more stress than comfort.
So, that left me with the cargo hold. Like many pet owners, I had heard horror stories about dogs flying that way. But then I learned the area for animals is pressurized and climate-controlled just like the main cabin. Still, I knew it would be hard for me to manage all my belongings – not to mention my emotions – as I moved, along with Bodhi’s belongings and emotions, so I set out to find help. Several Internet searches led me to a great pet relocation service, All Pet Travel. (This is not a paid advertisement – just my experience with the company and there are other pet relocation services available.)
All Pet essentially handled everything, just calling or emailing me when I needed to fill out paperwork or take Bodhi to the vet or buy the crate for the airplane. Choosing the right size crate is key. There are several U.S. Department of Agriculture requirements for moving a dog from the United States to Italy, as well as individual airline requirements. For instance, while there is no quarantine period for a dog entering Italy from the U.S., there is a specific type of microchip required, certain mandated vaccinations and a time-sensitive European Union (EU) health certification requirement. The details are spelled out on the USDA’s website. Pet owners can complete the process themselves – that is, without hiring a pet relocation expert. For me, however, having a professional in charge of the process made my move much less stressful if not less expensive.
I wanted Bodhi to have as little time in the air as possible and a direct flight. Because direct flights from Albuquerque to the EU don’t exist, All Pet Travel arranged to have him picked up in Albuquerque and driven to Los Angeles. While my move to Italy required two layovers, Bodhi flew directly from LAX to Rome (I mentioned he was spoiled, didn’t I?) All Pet also arranged at my request for him to be picked up in Rome and driven to me in Lucca.
Bodhi made the trip and the transition to life in Italy easily! He loves that we walk a few times each day on the ancient walls that surround the historic center of Lucca, that he can go in a gelato shop (and many other places) with me and that he’s making new friends just like I am! -post by Judy