• Prepping pets for overseas travel

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  • Jessica Lehman | Veterinary Treatment Facility
    Service members who receive permanent-change-of-station orders to an assignment outside of the continental United States know that part of the prep work of moving to their new assignment involves getting their family members ready to travel. What they may not know is that includes getting their pets ready to travel.
    This could be as simple as getting a health certificate to ride on a plane or it could be more involved to include vaccines, microchips and even blood work.
    This is where the Fort Leavenworth Veterinary Treatment Facility becomes a pet’s best friend when gearing up for OCONUS travel. The bulk of OCONUS assignments that the Fort Leavenworth VTF prepares pets for are to Hawaii, Korea, Japan or the European Union, but the VTF is able to prep pets for any destination.
    The first thing a pet needs when traveling internationally is an International Standards Organization standard microchip. Not all microchips are ISO compatible. ISO microchips are 15 digits in length and contain no letters. Owners who are are unsure of the type of microchip their pet has can bring the pet to the VTF during business hours and a technician can scan it to verify. Hawaii is an exception — ISO and non-ISO compatible microchips are accepted.
    The second requirement is making sure the pet has a current rabies vaccination. Some places, such as Korea and the European Union, only require that you show proof of one current rabies vaccination. Other places, such as Hawaii and Japan, require proof of multiple rabies vaccinations.
    In addition to microchips and vaccines, there may be required blood work. Most common is a Fluorescent Antibody Viral Neutralization test. The FAVN is a specialized test to show the pet’s immune system has built up antibodies to the rabies virus. Hawaii, Japan and Korea are rabies-controlled areas and require this testing before pets can gain entry. With this testing also comes a pre-quarantine period prior to entry. If a pet has not completed the pre-quarantine period before entry, the pet may have to stay in a quarantine facility in that country at the owner’s expense. Japan requires 180 days of quarantine, Hawaii requires 120 days and Korea requires 30 days.
    Finally, a pet needs a health certificate to travel. A health certificate to an OCONUS assignment requires USDA certification, which military veterinarians can sign and stamp on behalf of the USDA office but civilian veterinarians cannot. This is an enormous cost savings to the service member.
    Health certificates must be done within 10 days of travel. Therefore, service members taking leave before a PCS move should plan to locate the nearest military veterinary clinic for their pet’s health certificate. Again, Hawaii is the exception to the rule and does not require USDA certification.
    Page 2 of 2 - Service members who think that OCONUS travel is on the horizon can call the Fort Leavenworth VTF and ask to speak to a technician. The technician can review the pet’s records and discuss what the pet needs to meet travel requirements. However, the best thing to do when preparing for OCONUS travel is to call the VTF and schedule a prep appointment. This appointment entails going over with the pet’s owner the requirements to where they are traveling and a review of the pet’s medical records. At that time, if the pet needs a microchip, vaccines or bloodwork, it can be performed.
    The Fort Leavenworth VTF staff strives to stay current on all requirements for international travel and prides itself in making the process as streamlined as possible along with the least amount of stress for service members.
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