Sometimes your perfect pet happiness can only be found many miles away and you or your future dog will need to cross borders to start a future together. This is often the case for anyone on the lookout for a specific or rare breed, or those looking to home a dog without the help of animal shelters. Here are some tips if you are considering adopting a puppy from abroad.
Adopting a Puppy from Abroad
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Gather information beforehand
You may have looked at plenty of cute photographs and this puppy may already have you wrapped around its paw, but you should try to gather as much information as possible about the dog before you decide to adopt it. Of course, if the organisation or breeder is just a few hours’ drive away, a visit is considerably more simple. For those further away, how about a weekend visit to check out the situation? This should give you the chance to see how the puppies are raised and meet the parent animals, as well as for the breeder to meet the potential new owner of its dogs. This is also a great opportunity to raise any questions about health care and socialisation, something that applies for visiting animal welfare organisations as well as breeders. Often, unfortunately, the distance is too great to make prior visits and you will have to rely on information sent to you. Be sure to make a list of any information you want to find out before you make any phone calls, particularly if you will not be using your native language, as this helps to ensure you don’t forget to ask any key questions when the time comes. If you have declared a clear interest in a dog, chances are a similar pre-inspection of your home will occur as with a local animal shelter. During this process, a UK-based representative of the organisation will visit your home to get an idea of the living conditions the puppy or dog is potentially being sent to. If you rent your home, the best idea is to get written consent from your landlord. You should use this visit to learn more about the organisation and to ask any questions you may have about the re-homing process.
Safe and healthy arrival
If both sides agree that you can offer this puppy a secure new home, then the dog will be reserved for you. You will usually have to make a down payment and complete some form of contract – a serious part of re-homing a dog! Some animal welfare organisations will also state that the dog needs to be castrated or sterilised at a certain age, to protect both you and the dog. A point to remember is that it is not only puppies from breeders that cost money, but also those from shelters. This amount may just be a few hundred Euros, but it will often only cover a fraction of the costs. Before leaving the country, your new dog will need to be examined by a veterinarian and receive a health certification. It may also need certain vaccinations, proof certificates and worming. Animal welfare organisations in affected countries should also be tested for the so-called “Mediterranean diseases”. Particularly in countries in southern and eastern Europe, dog diseases such as leishmaniasis exist which are not found in central and northern Europe and can cause real problems for your dog. Some of these can even be fatal and can pose a risk to humans, especially small children. Before you commit to a dog, be sure to check for any country-specific diseases and get written confirmation that your puppy is not affected by any Mediterranean diseases. Results should be drawn from regular blood tests, not from unreliable rapid test methods.
In many European countries, the import age for dogs is relatively high – for example, a puppy must be at least 15 weeks old before it is legally allowed to travel to Germany. Find out in advance the exact exit and entry requirements in both countries, and avoid any “breeders” or organisations that are keen to transport puppies at a younger age. The age limit makes sense, as a puppy can only be effectively vaccinated against rabies from the age of 12 weeks and up, with the vaccine becoming reliable three to four weeks later. An effective rabies vaccine is a condition for crossing the intra-European borders. A puppy from abroad should also always come with an EU pet passport, containing your dog’s microchip number and vaccination certificates, and an absolute necessity for legal entry into a European country.
Once all the formalities have been dealt with, your four-legged friend can begin its exciting journey to its forever home! If you are buying from a far-away breeder, you are usually allowed to set out on your own to pick up your new family member. Animal welfare organisations often work with the aid of flight sponsors, who will travel with the dog on its return journey. These can generally be collected straight from the airport. The puppy will then need time to adjust in peace to its new surroundings, as a long journey can often be difficult for it to cope with. The same applies to long car journeys. A good idea is to drive in pairs, so that you can take it in turns to drive and take care of the puppy. Plan lots of breaks! You should drive away from the main roads into a quieter, more peaceful environment, so that your new puppy can get out and stretch its legs without any scary road noise. A toy is a good idea while travelling, and do not forget to keep water available. If you are travelling for over four hours, you should also think about food, so that your puppy does not get hungry. Stay calm and relaxed, feelings your dog will pick up on, and think about all the exciting new things your dog is experiencing on this journey! Then treat it to plenty of rest so that it can adjust to its new home.
We wish you boundless joy with your new pack member!