Follow these tips to navigate everything from legal parameters to potential challenges.
Finding love in Mexico is easy. It could also be at your feet, on the carne asada that has spilled out of your taco.
“They really pick you up here,” Mackie Arbaugh says of Mexico’s streets. She is the adoption coordinator and social media manager. Cerritos Beach DogsAt a non-profit cafe and dog rescue Baja California Sur. The rescue was founded in 2023 by a group of Mexicans and immigrants from the United States, Argentina, Canada and Australia. It picks up orphaned children from Cerritos Beach and sends them home with passengers.
“Most of our adopters are foreigners and tourists, I think because most people here already have their own dog,” Arbaugh says. One look in the eyes of an adorable dog is enough to make travelers start plotting ways to get it across the border.
Beyond Mexico, destinations in Latin America, Asia, Africa and Eastern Europe have long struggled to control their stray dog and cat populations. “There are hundreds of thousands of wonderful dogs in rescues all over the world,” Arbaugh says, “waiting to find their homes.”
But of course importing animals into the states involves some planning. The CDC has a list. More than a dozen diseases that dogs can carry alone, which means there’s a lot of red tape when it comes to bringing an animal in, from vaccination requirements to airline age limits and vet-verified certificates.
Have you fallen in love with a dog at an international dog rescue? Or are you preparing to keep your eyes (and heart) open for a dear friend the next time you’re abroad? Here’s everything you need to know about adopting a pet abroad, including health inspections, transportation considerations, and more.
Adopting a stray vs. a shelter pet
Some places have so many stray cats and dogs you may be tempted to pick one up from a busy sidewalk instead of adopting one through a rescue or shelter. Often, tourists don’t consider adopting until they see an animal in poor condition that may need help. But According to the Humane Society International, “Concerned individuals should be mindful that these animals may, in fact, have someone caring for them.” They recommend contacting a local animal welfare organization or veterinarian to assess the animal’s condition and see if an owner can be traced.
Rescue organizations often cover the cost of spaying and neutering, and some will make sure the animal is up to date on all of its vaccinations, so it’s important to check before you decide to add a stray to your pack. Use these community resources. Humane Society International recommends using worldanimal.netDatabase of thousands of animal protection organizations in 170 countries, to find a rescue near you.
Entering the United States with an animal
There are certain animals that you are not allowed to bring into the States from abroad. The USDA defines pets as dogs, cats, ferrets, rabbits, rodents, hedgehogs, reptiles, amphibians, and certain birds. Any animal outside of these categories is not legally a pet and may not be allowed entry. Also, birds like ducks and pigeons are considered poultry, not pets, but if we’re just talking about a dog or cat, you should be fine as long as They should be at least eight weeks old (required by most airlines and the USDA).
That said, the US State Department is strict about dogs coming from countries with a high risk of rabies. These countries include Brazil, India, Thailand, Morocco and more than 100 others. If someone comes from one of the countries on the dog. CDC list, then you will need to provide proof that they have had the rabies vaccine. A vaccination certificate only Issued by the CDC. Accepted, because there are concerns about fake documents.
Obtaining a health certificate
The CDC does not require a health certificate for importing pets, but your airline probably does. According to the US State Department, airlines require a pet health certificate within the last 10 days, regardless of country requirements. Likewise, pets are always subject to inspection at land borders, so you should never attempt to import an animal without this paperwork.
Each airline has its own requirements, but most will want to see the pet’s breed, weight, age, and certification (in English) that your pet has been vetted and is healthy enough to travel. Free from any disease. endanger others. Shelters and rescues often provide this certificate or work with you to obtain it. Arbaugh says Cerritos Beach Dogs ships all of its puppies within days of travel with vaccination cards and health certificates obtained by a local vet.
Arbaugh says the biggest hurdle to adopting a dog overseas is usually transportation. If you’re able to drive, you might be able to save an already-stressed pet more stress during the flight. Brachycephalic breeds such as pugs, Shih Tzus, and bulldogs, as well as Persian and Himalayan cats that have difficulty breathing under stress, may be safer traveling by car, as are senior animals.
Some airlines require pets to fly in the cargo hold, which can be loud, rowdy and overall annoying. Also, flying with pets usually costs $100 or more each way, but it – on the other hand – gets you to your destination faster, which means less stress for your pet. can cause The best transportation for your pet depends on their health and behavior. Talk to a doctor or adoption agency to make an informed decision.
No matter what country your new pet is from, you should always make the vet one of your first stops when you get home. This allows you to establish maintenance, keep your animals up-to-date on medications and necessary vaccines, and ensure that there are no potentially worrisome health issues. Also consider getting your pet microchipped as a safety measure in case your pet gets lost. Chances are, you won’t have the luxury of taking the time to prepare your new pet for the big transition while you travel home. But if you’re able to think a little further, make sure you have a private area in your home where your pet can have some quiet time when they’re feeling anxious or overwhelmed. Be patient with your new pet as they adjust to their new environment and lifestyle.
Consider other ways to help animals abroad
While adopting abroad can be tempting, Humane Society International urges people to adopt in their home country before adopting abroad. The ASPCA estimates that about a million Dogs and cats are euthanized each year to make room in shelters in the United States. If you feel compelled to contribute to animal welfare while traveling, consider that adoption may not be the best way to help. Transporting an animal internationally can be expensive, and if used to provide spay and neuter services for multiple pets in addition to other important services, the money can be overused. It might be best to donate money to local animal rescue organizations, or ask them what kind of help they might need.