The travel of Zoro in plane, from France to Pittsburgh
This is my story of my first flight with my rat Zoro from Paris to NewYark in 2013.
In 2016 I moved back to France, with 2 rats and had a nightmare experience with Pet Safe.
You can read more here : http://www.pettravel.com/forum/showthread.php/3877-Very-bad-experience-Pet-Safe-United-international-flight
I believe we were very lucky the first time. Pet Safe do not care about animals or people. And traveling by plane with animals is always dangerous because of people doing poorly their job.
Travel of Zoro from France to Pittsburgh – Part 1 : Documents you need
-The first step is inquire if your animal is allowed in the country of your destination (for example, there is an restriction for ferret in California).
For that, you have to contact the embassy of your country of destination and hope that they will give you the number of a service that could help you.
For us (bringing our rat to the US), it was the CDC (center for disease control and prevention): http://www.cdc.gov/animalimportation/ phone: (412)472-0804
When I call them, they redirected me to a vet office in Pennsylvania: http://www.aphis.usda.gov/animal_health/area_offices/states/pennsylvania_info.html
- We learned that Zoro will not have to do quarantine: He will just need certificate of good health from a vet (the certificate needs to be done no longer than 4 day before the trip)
Travel of Zoro from France to Pittsburgh – Part 2 : The airlines
We contacted all the airlines that we could take: None of them are allowing rats in cabin. The only airline that seems to allow rats in cabin is called “Corsair”. Unfortunately, Corsair does not fly to US (it will fly to Montreal in a couple of months).
From Paris to Pittsburgh, there are no direct flights. And we figure (by reading forum) that a connection will be too dangerous for Zoro. Therefore, we chose to take a direct flight from Paris to Newark, and finish the trip with a rental car (Newark to Pittsburgh).
At the beginning of my search, I have been particularly interested into two companies for animals travel:
They might (I don’t know), be good for dogs or cats, but they have never made a travel with a rat.
One of them (Maurice ward) even lied to me about that: At first, they told me that they were use to travel with rats. But several exchanges, when I asked them for the special cage for rat, and after long weeks of them not responding, they finally admit that they have never flight with a rat. As you can imagine, I was very worried for Zoro, and the fact that they were lying simply make me completely unable to truth them. I addition to that, the price is very expensive: More than 1000€.
Also, I learned that they are not really a flight with the animals, but they are simply sub-contracting with a company called “Pet safe” from United airlines. . http://www.united.com/web/fr/content/travel/animals/default.aspx
In order to get information about “Pet safe”, I went on the website of IPATA (international pet and transportation association : http://www.ipata.org/). IPATA has a list with all the suppliers for animals travel (http://www.ipata.org/suppliers#airlines).
After that, I have contacted Pet safe. My contact is called Christelle (French phone: +33 1 4919 1840 and 33 1 4919 1841 -firstname.lastname@example.org).
The “Pet safe” solution was the following one:
We could take the same plane has Zoro. We only had to drop him at the Pet safe office (in France) at least 2 hours before the flight. According to them, Zoro will be taking care of until they bring him to the plane (just before taking off – in order to limit stress, noise and cold). During the flight, he was in a pressurized and warmed special compartment. After landing, he has been taken from the plane, and he has been waiting for us in the U.S. petsafe office.
The price was around 350€.
This means that the bad company “Maurice ward” that was sub-contracting to pet safe, was tripling the price for no reason.
Travel of Zoro from France to Pittsburgh – Part 3 : The cage
We learned that it’s very important to have a “IATA cage” to the travel in aircraft of your rodent.
You can find them here: http://www.pettravelstore.com/categories/Pet-Crates-%26-Accessories/Pet-Crates/
You have to take the smallest cage. You also have to buy “steel bolts” (the one with the cage are in plastic – this was required by the US company), and some stickers (“Living animals” and one with our name/address/telephone/etc.)
We could not find this cage in France, so we had to buy and ship it from the US. It took something like 2 weeks (for the delivery in France). It’s probably a good idea to buy the cage long time before the flight to be safe, and give plenty of time to your animal to get use to it (during the month before the flight, we put the cage on Zoro playground in order for him to get use to it).
Travel of Zoro from France to Pittsburgh – Part 4 : Customization of the cage
The cage has large aeration holes on the sides. It’s not good for rats since they are sensitive to the cold. Therefore, I bought double face adhesive and some transparent plastic napkin. I have cut part of transparent napkin at the size of aerations, put adhesive on the top and the bottom of this napkin and press that on the cage. This system could can be put and removed easily. It was useful because the napkins were not allowed during the flight (for the security on the plane, the aeration can’t be obstructed), but they were very useful during the other part of our travel.
For the stickers, I advise you to fill in the form with all your information and to stick this later with "Pet safe people" (when you drop your animal before the flight).
You need some absorbent tissue: I put a towel cut in the right dimensions plus some “drybed” . Then, because I wanted the inside of the cage to be comfortable and warm bed for the travel, "Pet Safe" told me that it was allowed to have a “bed” inside, but the bed needed to be attached. I asked Enora from “Au dodo Créatif” (i.e. Creative Sleeping) http://www.audodocreatif.fr/ to make me a « carre moelleux » (i.e. Soft square) http://www.audodocreatif.fr/boutique/audodocreatif/product.php?id_product=48
(PS: She has delivery in US).
Size M is perfect for a rat. I have attached the bed with some “plastic serflex”. It’s plastic fixation you can buy that on DIY shop.
I also added some little blankets. With all of that, I was sure that Zoro would love his new cage of transportation!
The food :
Only one bowls is allowed by pet safe. One side for the food (croquettes), the other side for the water. Warning, I fixed his bottle of water on the grid, but with the scanner detection they took off the metal part of the bottle.
Therefore, the food was soaked wet! I had discovered that (with horror) when I pick up him after the trip, so I was not very happy about that: they are not perfectly careful with my animal… so be careful nothing metal. Luckily he also had some food in his bed !
It is very important to put some fruits inside the cage to fight the hydration: Grape, cucumber, tomatoes, apples… The morning before the trip, I gave him “bledine” with some water (it’s a powder for babies).
Travel of Zoro from France to Pittsburgh – Part 5 : What we need to take with us
- Croquettes: instead of the big box of 2kg, I bought three boxes of 350g, in order to avoid issues with the customs. In addition, I had a prescription from my vet for the food (just in case…)
- We also took some croquettes/fruits in our bag: To feed Zoro before the flight. We had to throw the left out before the flight.
- “Blédine” in little bag, for give drink to my Zoro after the airplane.
- Some medicine, medicine certificate and the certificate of good wealth :
For Zoro: Nutrigel (it’s king of paste he love’s, he takes his medicine with that, plus it’s great for him if he is tired), marbocyl (an antibiotic - he had a little preventive treatment when we arrived, because the travel could be affect his health).
- Dry bed, towel and blanket for change when the other are moist.
In addition, we have take in our suitcase one big blanket with his odor and all the toys we could take!
Travel of Zoro from France to Pittsburgh – Part 6 : How did it go
- We have left the Sunday to took the train from Lyon to Paris, we have to buy an animal ticket because the cage is quiet big !
- Once at the hotel in Paris, he played on the bed with all his toys, and he had his first night in the cage of transportation (not so bad) everything ok.
- Morning of the big travel in airplane: We woke up early in order to play with him before the trip. We feed him : blédine, fruits, rat candy….
- Then we took a taxi to the Pet safe desk (the office is a little far from the airport, so we had to take a taxi -- there are no buses). We arrived at the petsafe office at 7am. They had all the documents (I sent them by email few days ago). Then, we had to leave Zoro at their office ( it was hard -- very hard).
-After we landed and passed all the layers of the customs, we took our suitcases and we run to the pet safe office : Zoro was here ! In his bed, he looks a little scared bur in good health, at this moment we are so relief, all the stress is gone!
- Next, we rented a car at the airport. In the back of the car, we check Zoro, let him play on the blanket, change the dry bed and give him some food. Then we leave (and he slept the entire journey)!
Apparently he wasn’t checked by any vet at the custom.
This article explains a trip in a airplane with a rat. If you have a rabbit or anything else, you have to check first with your airlines. My rat was not allowed with me in cabin he had to travel in a special place in hold, maybe a rabbit or another animal can be allowed.
Useful links :
Pet safe : http://www.united.com/web/fr/content/travel/animals/procedures.aspx
The cage of transportation for airplane : http://www.pettravelstore.com/categories/Pet-Crates-%26-Accessories/Pet-Crates/
A useful blog : http://www.pettravel.com/blog/?p=341
The bed : http://www.audodocreatif.fr/boutique/audodocreatif/product.php?id_product=48
For the end, I want said a big “Thank You” at Pittsburgh Rats Lovers club ! Lisa who was my emergency contact, Lindsay who introduce me at this group so nicely, I can’t remember all our names you were so many helping me ! So Thank you very much !!!