"Those who have experienced Paris have advantage over those who have not. We are the ones who have glimpsed a little bit of heaven, down here on earth." - Deirdre Kelly

Friday, August 26, 2011

Coco in Paris, Part 1: Wonk

"Until one has loved a dog,
a part of one's soul remains unawakened."
- Anatole France
All of my prep is nearly over: passports, airline tickets, insurance, apartment rental, everyone's wardrobe, etc. I've got my Paris-routine down ;-) The last item on my list of to-dos, besides packing, is Coco. Every year, after I upload my Paris photo album to my Facebook page, one of the most frequent comments I get is: 'how are you able to take Coco to France?'

So I thought that I'd post about the how-tos and where-fores of bringing your dog to the most dog-friendly place on earth - Paris! You'd be surprised at how much needs to happen in order for Coco and I to wander the streets of my favorite city. But it's not too difficult and is, in the end, very rewarding. Yes you can!

My three, Coco and Me on rue di Rivoli (2009)

Disclaimer #1:
This series of posts focuses on bringing a small dog to Paris - 5 to 7 lbs (at that weight, dogs are allowed to be in-cabin with their families). Every airline that allows pets, requires that dogs weighing more than 7 lbs be stored in the belly of the plane with the cargo. All airlines, that allow pets, have a special climate controlled underbelly compartment dedicated to 'live cargo,' but the thought of putting a dog in a crate without any human supervision or intervention (for a minimum of 10 hours, no less), seems cruel and just plain creepy to me. I think that such an experience causes too much unnecessary stress on the dog and their person. And there are so many things that can wrong and that is completely unacceptable! 

That being said, I believe that every dog (no matter their size) and their family should have the opportunity to experience the most dog friendly city in the world (especially American dogs). Recently, a few dog-dedicated transport companies have come onto the scene. I'm going to do a little research and let you know what I find. 

Disclaimer #2:
I'm going to separate this post into two parts: wonk and dog travel essentials. Maybe three - focusing on dog travel for 8 lbs plus canines ;-)

Okay, let's begin...

Before you even think about going: Microchip

Crystal Tag Microchip - the only one accepted worldwide

A microchip is an "indentifying integrated circuit placed under the skin of a dog...about the size of a large grain of rice." This tiny chip houses all of you dog's information. A vet, shelter, etc. uses a small hand-scanner and voila! your dog's info appears. Microchipping, especially with small dogs, is steadily becoming more popular.

Before I even found my beloved Coco, I knew that I wanted my dog to be able to travel with me anywhere and everywhere - especially Paris ;-) So when I took Coco to her vet, I had her chipped with the Crystal Tag - 4 years before it was required. As of last month, if you want to take your dog to an EU country, he/she has to be tagged with a Crystal Tag.

French/English Certificate, certified by the USDA

Before you go: Health Certificate (from your vet) and a French/English Certificate (USDA)

You'll need a health certificate from your vet (it's a standard form they have onhand) and a bi-lingual French/English certificate (also from your vet) that has to be stamped by the USDA (click on the link to find the location closest to you - the Illinois one is a few blocks from O'Hare Airport). Here's how it works:

1. Contact your vet, tell them you're going to Paris and you need a health certificate (with rabies vaccination confirmation) and a French/English health certificate for them to fill out (they get all of the forms you need and fill them out). Your vet will have to 'officially' see your pet too. Just take your completed forms to your local USDA office to be stamped.
- Note (this is VERY important): your certificates must be stamped and vet visit must be performed a maximum of 10 days before your departure - that's why Coco is last on my Paris things-to-do ;-)

2. Make sure to add your doggie passport to your vital travel documents: airline tickets, passports, etc.

I've covered the basics, but for all the minutia go to the Pet Travel Store. In their 'Airline Pet Policies' section they have links to the pet policies of 120 airlines: from Aegean Air to Zambezi Airlines. They also have info on 200+ countries' pet passport requirements: from Afghanistan to Zimbabwe. And if, by slim chance, they missed a country or airline, you can @mail them: info@pettravel.com.

Next up: Pet Travel Essentials...

Vivre! Rire! Aimer!

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