09 October 2013

The mutts in the UK

One of the first questions that I was asked whenever anyone found out I was planning on moving to the UK was what I planned on doing with my dogs.  Of course I was going to bring them with me if at all possible!!! The next question by anyone remotely familiar with the laws was what about the 6 month quarantine but thankfully my travel plans fell into the right time for a rule change also known as the Pet Travel Scheme.  This was so new that not even my vet's office was aware of it until I brought in the info when I wanted to get Elsie prepared for the trip.  It was still a stressful and expensive process because the steps must be followed in a certain order, the paperwork must be filled out a certain way and it included a trip to the state branch of the USDA office to get the paperwork certified and stamp--fortunately this was before the current federal government shutdown.

The shipping of the dogs over could be handled by a third party who would ensure that all paperwork was done plus oversee the crating when at whatever airline you chose but that costs 3-4 times as much as doing it yourself.  We chose the DIY route and since I was flying United (hello, frequent flier miles meant my flight was $80!!) we used their PetSafe service.  There ended up being a few issues, the first was that because the flight out of Little Rock was on a small jet I would have to pay for them to ride in the cabin and this was going to be on top of the other charges for shipping them thus increasing the cost even more.  I ended up choosing to drive from central Arkansas down to Houston (an approximately 8 hour drive with bathroom stops).

Next issue was trying to find the United cargo terminal, I wasted close to an hour driving around trying to decipher the maze that is IAH.......once I managed to find the correct way into the air cargo terminals there were not any signs on the outside of the buildings giving any indication where PetSafe was located.  Stress level escalation!

Once there the two men who were in charge of setting up the crates and taking care of the animals were amazing! They took over and had everything put to rights in no time while reassuring me and were very attentive to Ben and Elsie.  Absolutely no complaints there, those two were top-notch and you could tell they enjoyed what they did.

The woman who was checking me in and going over the paperwork was another story altogether.  She didn't want to be at work and very much resented anyone coming in and interrupting her texting and phone conversations and her boss wasn't much better.  She claimed she couldn't find the shipping reservation--the one I had called to double check on the previous week by the way, the supervisor (another lady who wasn't happy with being interrupted) ambled over to find it.  Then there was confusion over the names on the reservation because there was two of us listed.  Then she claimed that the health certificates were invalid because they were done in May (that's when the rabies and other vaccinations were done) and that we were just going to have to leave when I was trying to point out the correct date.  Supervisor ambles over again, sighs very loudly, and announces that yes the health certificates were valid.  Next up was her trying to figure out how to fill in the customs forms......It just went on and on.  I don't mind when someone is new at their job and trying to get through it without messing up, I do mind arrogance and trying to shift the blame of their incompetence to the customer for what is already a stressful event.

Thankfully we all made it onto the correct flight and made it to London Heathrow mostly safe and sound (I have other stories to relate about this, lol).  The Heathrow Animal Reception Centre was very helpful and they cleaned the dogs and the crates up before bringing them out to us.  However, there is something else to be aware of--a representative with a customs clearing company may ask to speak to you via phone while you are waiting for the animals to be released and will say that you have to pay an additional £300 in fees.  I am not sure why this is but it amounts to extortion as far as I am concerned because these are your pets not merchandise. I immediately passed the phone to my partner who is British and he told them over $1300 had been paid and that no other charges had been discussed so as far as he was concerned there were no other monies owed.  We were then asked to fax a copy of the shipping papers and fees that had been paid already and the dogs were released to us approximately 45 minutes later.  A young lady in the USAF whose dog had been shipped to her (at well over $2000) didn't press it and just paid what they were asking.  These fees very much need to be made clear at the time of shipping NOT when you are waiting to pick the animals up.

Waiting to check out the new home

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