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A member of the Combat Center community spends the afternoon walking her dog at Ocotillo Heights, Wednesday. “A big thing owners worry about is traveling with their pets,” said Ernest Robinson, transportation assistant for TMO. Air Mobility Command limited so planning ahead of time can save an owner the hassle.

Photo by Lance Cpl. William J. Jackson

PCS pets with no problem

27 Aug 2010 | Lance Cpl. William J. Jackson

When traveling with a pet, owners must have a few things in order before their pet can travel along, especially to venture overseas.

As soon as a pet-owning service member gets orders for overseas or just across the country, they should visit a veterinary office for a health certificate, said Samantha Nelson, a receptionist for the Twentynine Palms Veterinary Clinic, the installation’s veterinary clinic. The U.S. Department of Agriculture mandates pets traveling by commercial airline to have a health certificate, which is good for ten days, before boarding a plane.

When traveling to overseas installations, like Marine Corps Base Hawaii and Marine Corps Bases Japan, it can take up to six months to meet all additional regulations for these regulations.

“Pets will have to go through a series of rabies vaccinations and blood tests,” said Nelson, a native of Midland, Mich.

Hawaii and Japan are rabies-free areas, so animals will also have to be quarantined and screened for rabies upon arrival.

All medical costs are at the owners’ expense.

This maximum quarantine period for MCB Hawaii is 120-days, and for Marine Corps Bases Japan is 180 days. Pet owners can minimize their pets’ quarantine periods by getting a tracking microchip implant for their pet, two rabies vaccines no more than a year and no less than 90 days before traveling and blood tests no less than 90 days prior to entering an overseas port.

Quarantine is also an expense owners are responsible for.

Fees in Hawaii for the “five-day or less program” is $224 for up to five days of quarantine, and $165 for direct release from the airport. The costs for the 30-day and the 120-day quarantine programs range between $655 and $1,080.

Fees for quarantine in Japan are $10 a day for dogs and $8 a day for cats on average.

Airports will need updated medical records, arrival information and notice of arrangements to pick the animal up prior to the animals landing.

The Combat Center’s Transportation Management Office has handled around 10 pet transportations in the last year, said Ernest Robinson, transportation assistant for TMO.

“Overseas shipping is where most troubles come from while dealing with pet transportation,” Robinson said.  “A lot of it has to do with taking the time to get all the right paperwork.”

Robinson suggests using the Internet to find out about a country’s regulations for pets.

“The overall responsibility of shipping a pet is the travelers’,” Robinson added. “The shipment of pets is always at the expense of the traveler.”

The installation’s TMO utilizes Air Mobility Command for overseas flights.

TMO will help owners with any matter pertaining to the shipment of pets, said Robinson, a Philadelphia native.

For AMC, it costs $110 for a pet weighing up to 70 pounds, cage included, and $220 for pets weighing 71 to 150 pounds.

Space available with AMC sometimes runs out, and owners need to seek out other options. Robinson recommended companies like the Independent Pet and Travel Association International Incorporated, Animals Away, United Cargo and Pet Relocation.

Owners should also check with airlines about individual companies’ pet policies before flying, said Nicole Tierra, Scheduled Airlines Traffic Office manager. For example, the Palm Springs International Airport does not accommodate pets.

Expenses, veterinary appointments and booking a flight can be overwhelming, but getting started as early as possible can make things run much smoother, Robinson said.

For more information, contact TMO at 830-6729 or the veterinary clinic at 830-6896.

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Marine Corps Air Ground Combat Center Twentynine Palms