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Thread: Americans coming to NZ, Pets

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    nolasmom's Avatar
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    Default Americans coming to NZ, Pets

    Part Two of my ongoing series of posts...

    Many people can’t imagine moving without bringing their pets. We thought long and hard about the implications, emotional and financial, of importing our dog and cat. The “pup” is a 12 year old Chow/Retriever mix, the biggest love muffin you’ll ever meet. I’ve had the cat since the first Clinton administration.

    We researched what would be entailed and found many recommendations for a pet export firm based in Los Angeles which specializes in moves to NZ and Australia. We received a quote for close to $5000 for both pets including US vet fees, airfare, NZ quarantine, and necessary paperwork. After many teary nights, we decided to give the pup to my husband’s sister. His health was declining and we feared he might not survive the flights.

    The stress involved in moving just the cat was not to be believed. Multiple vet appointments were necessary in the weeks before our move. A three-hour round trip jaunt to a USDA vet to check our papers and give an officious-looking stamp was a ridiculous last-minute requirement. Unforeseen circumstances delayed the cat’s departure until three days after ours. The pet exporter was uncommunicative, often unavailable, and generally unpleasant in the weeks leading up to the cat’s move. I won’t name them on the forum, but you can deduce who it is. The final cost to move just the cat was nearly $4000, close to $1500 over estimate.

    The NZ Ministry of Agriculture and Forestry (MAF) oversees all animal imports, and they can change regulations and requirements whenever they please and are sloth-like in updating their website. If you have an application under review when a rule is changed, you are not “grandfathered” in. Your file is put on hold while you jump through the newest hoop.

    The quarantine facility outside of Christchurch (the only one on the South Island) treated our cat wonderfully. She happened to be the only cat during her month-long stay and was spoiled rotten. Even with the great care, we have noticed some disturbing changes in her personality.

    I would advise you to think long and hard about the toll the importng process will take on humans and pets alike. The stress on everyone involved can be enormous. The cost of moving one pet, let alone multiples, is high financially and emotionally. If you decide to bring them, start the process no later than 3 months before your move date. Some would advise 6 months. Explain the process to your vet before you get started. You may find that he or she does not want to be bothered (we discovered our vet's passive-aggressive nature midway through). MAF is inflexible and snippy when contacted and pointing out their mistakes will get you nowhere.

    Even though we love having our sweet old girl with us, if we were given a do-over we would have found her a nice home before we moved.
    Last edited by nolasmom; 13-11-2007 at 09:34 PM.

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    ebianca's Avatar
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    Sorry to hear that all didn't go well with your cat. I hear of many people taking dogs to new countries but not so many with cats.

    We have a cat- he's about 8 now and we had already decided that we would re-house him before we left.

    Unlike dogs they are not so reliable upon us owners and will go to anyone that feeds them so they could quiet easily go astray.

    Our cat is also very much an outside cat due to where we live at the moment and i'm pretty sure he wouldn't cope with the move.

    He will be missed but he will be loved just as much in his new home with my FIL and his wife.
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    selchie is offline All Knowing Deity
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    Thanks for the warnings about both the pet relocator and MAF. I believe we'll still bring our cats, but definitely like to be ready for potential glitches.

    Didn't you have to have your cats vaccinated for rabies 6 months before moving, and then do the rabies serum test? ...Fortunately our vet is USDA approved (he said he sent in 50 cents and a couple of boxtops when he was a young graduate), so he'll be able to take care of everything. ...I do wish the quarantine weren't so long, but at least its not 180 days. I'd not bring them over if that were so.
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    Default Reply to Selchie

    Quote Originally Posted by selchie View Post
    Didn't you have to have your cats vaccinated for rabies 6 months before moving, and then do the rabies serum test? ...Fortunately our vet is USDA approved (he said he sent in 50 cents and a couple of boxtops when he was a young graduate), so he'll be able to take care of everything. ...I do wish the quarantine weren't so long, but at least its not 180 days. I'd not bring them over if that were so.
    Hi Selchie,

    You absolutely should bring your babies, my post was a reflection of our experience. We knew for about a year that we'd be moving to NZ and started the shots process early. Although you have to be mindful of the timeline MAF wants, not too early and definitely not too late. I believe the rabies limit is no more than a year before the pet is shipped and no less than six months.

    And the rabies serum test is what held our cat up. There is a short window right before you ship the pet to have the serum test done. And only one lab in the country does it (at Kansas State Univ.) Our vet placed a leaky cold pack in with the sample and UPS returned it several days later. Also the Kansas State lab was backed up for some reason. We had to fly out, no changing those plans. The cat was flown to the goofball importers in LA who kept her until the lab results came through. She then met us in NZ.

    As it was explained to me, the USDA vet has to be the state's appointed USDA vet. If you're in CA, that person may be in Sacremento. Hopefully since CA is a huge state they have more than one. We had to drive to the USDA's office in Indianapolis with all of the appropriate ppw (woe be to those whose ppw is not in order). This whole USDA requirement, which is utter BS, was implemented after we had submitted the pet import application but before it was approved. We had to abide by the new rule, and our application was held until we had completed the new requirement.

    Sometimes I think there's a circle in hell Dante forgot to mention which includes all government offices (no matter the country).

    And the quarantine period flies by.

    If you're not finding the answers you need, especially in regards to the timeline, let me know and I'll dig out my old ppw for you.
    Last edited by nolasmom; 15-11-2007 at 11:24 PM.

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    selchie's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by nolasmom View Post
    As it was explained to me, the USDA vet has to be the state's appointed USDA vet. If you're in CA, that person may be in Sacremento. Hopefully since CA is a huge state they have more than one.
    Interesting. I thought the MAF guidelines just mentioned any old USDA approved vet. I'll have to double-check all that before we go through all that again. If it's a State-approved USDA vet, then we'll probably have to go out of area. We're in a hinterland when it comes to things like that.

    I've started the process twice (getting vaccinations and the first serum test), thinking we would be going over soon, but kept getting held up. At this point, I'm going to wait until we decide we really are going, even if I stay behind with the cats for 6 months.
    If men had wings and bore black feathers, few of them would be clever enough to be crows.
    - Rev. Henry Ward Beecher, mid-1800s

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    Default Maf & Usda

    If it works out the you can use your USDA-credentialed vet, please post that. It would be yet another fun time I had with MAF, if I could have used a local vet.

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    selchie's Avatar
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    Will do, though it could be a while.
    If men had wings and bore black feathers, few of them would be clever enough to be crows.
    - Rev. Henry Ward Beecher, mid-1800s

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    KattyCo is offline Junior Member
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    Default Can the cats fly with us?

    Thanks for this helpful information. We're in the midst of completing our ITA and hope to be flying to Auckland in Spring '09 ... we are committed to bringing our 2 cats (Karma and Kiwi).

    I had it in my mind that they would be sealed up in LA and fly on the plane with us ... is that possible ... or does one *have* to use an exportation corporation?

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    I know this old thread relates to taking a dog on board a plane, but there might be some useful info and links you may want to read through.
    Mother Bear

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  10. #10
    KattyCo is offline Junior Member
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    Default Pets from the US

    Thank you MB!! You are a rock-star!!

    Do you know of any chats where
    someone had a POSITIVE pet export experience ... I've read at least
    one post (from nolasmom) in which the experience was quite challenging.

    Do you recall any threads that recommend a good exporter? I'm
    currently conversing with IPTlax.

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