Four-footed, furry family members are family too, and take some planning to move with them. Being prepared for a PCS move with pets is critical. For moves within the continental United States (CONUS) and overseas (OCONUS), there are many things to consider and steps to take prior to executing a military move.
- Budget more than you think you will need. You never know when a hotel may be full, and you have to stay at a hotel with a pet fee, or if you will have to use a pet shipper for a flight because the dog plus kennel may be over the restriction for weight.
- Consider keeping your pet in a kennel in the hotel to prevent them from getting scared and hiding or running away.
- Invest in portable, collapsible water bowls. This will be helpful on road trip moves or in their kennel if traveling overseas.
- Before the move, check in with your local vet to keep up to date on evaluations and vaccinations. This way, you don’t have to find a vet shortly after your arrival.
- If your pet is a “banned breed,” like a pitbull, plan for stops in towns where they are not banned.
- If you have a female pet, consider having them spayed before travel, so they don’t go into heat the day you check her into a pet-friendly boarder.
- Make sure you have medications for your pet with as many refills as possible. Hence, you have sufficient medications for travel and can get medications when needed at the new destination.
- After you have exhausted all the options in bringing your pet with you if you cannot bring your pet with you, look into these organizations or friends or family for re-homing your pet.
- Pet-friendly hotels: When booking travel for the move, look for pet-friendly hotels. These hotels have green space for walks and more room for pets within the hotel room. La Quinta hotels have historically been pet-friendly, and some Hilton properties are pet-friendly as well.
- Look into BringFido.com for dog-friendly places to stay and eat with your dog.
The rules and regulations may change for overseas orders, so make sure you are up to date on the regulations for the country you are entering. Here are some general tips for PCSing overseas.
- Look up your international assignment for country-specific regulations and requirements here: https://www.aphis.usda.gov/aphis/pet-travel/
- The first step is going to the on-base vet with orders. They will begin the paperwork, administer vaccines, and order blood work if required for entering the country you are PCSing to. Schedule this as soon as you have military orders in hand. Vaccines typically have to be done over 21 days from entry.
- Make sure your pet is on your orders so you can book a pet spot on an AMC (military) flight or ticket on a commercial flight.
- Do NOT, I repeat, do NOT assume you will be getting a pet spot on a AMC flight. Have a backup plan because pet spots are limited.
- Maintain bilingual paperwork or paperwork that is in English only.
- Check with the flight you are on to ensure you have the right kennel size and what the weight limit is. There may be a total weight of pet plus kennel.
- For the flight- tape a picture with your pet’s name on the outside of the kennel – the baggage handlers will likely call your pet by their name which is a kind gesture in a stressful situation. Tape a plastic bag with food pouches that may be used at layovers, and include your name/number. You just might get a text with photos of your pet on their adventure!
- If you have to use a pet-shipper, make sure you have a pet-specific power of attorney for the friend or family that is helping with drop off or pick up of the pet.
- Pets may need a quarantine when you get to the OCONUS location, make sure you are up to date on the regulations so you can appropriately plan and budget accordingly.
PCSing isn’t an easy process for humans, and for the pet who doesn’t quite understand the process either it can be a stressful event. Hopefully, these tips and steps help you navigate the PCS season with your pet.