Paw Corner – Going Finis and the Family Pet

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It’s that time of year when many people are finishing contracts and leaving Vanuatu. So…….what do we do with the family pet?

With a little careful planning you can take your pet back with you to almost any country in the world. Some countries have minimum requirements and it is fairly straight forward, while for others it can be a difficult process. However during the last 12 months we helped many animals fly or sail out of Vanuatu to their new homes in Australia, New Zealand, England, Canada, Malaysia, New Caledonia, France, Thailand, Vietnam and USA.

The most common mistake people make is leaving it to the last minute before deciding that they really want to take their beloved pet back with them! Please allow at least 8-12 weeks planning time because there are a few very important steps that need to be taken.

Firstly, all dogs and cats going to another country must be up to date with their vaccinations. These are the annual vaccination against Parvovirus, Hepatitis, Distemper, Parainfluenza, Bordatella for dogs and Feline flu and Enteritis for cats. These vaccinations need to be done more than two weeks and less than 12 months before you go.

In addition, any animals flying to Europe, USA or Japan must have an additional vaccination against rabies. Many other countries also require a vaccination against a disease called leptospirosis.

All animals going overseas require identification in the form of either a microchip or ear tattoo. The microchip is a relatively simple and very effective form of identification which can be done at the veterinary clinic. Once the microchip is inserted a scanner is used to ensure that it is in the right place and reading correctly. This will remain as identification of your pet for the rest of their life.

Australia and New Zealand are the most common countries that we send pets to from Vanuatu. Both countries now only have a ten day quarantine period if all the correct procedures are followed. However both countries have very strict regulations about tick control. If any ticks are found on your dog when it arrives in the country the authorities will do extra blood tests and extend the quarantine time.

Blood tests and treatments against internal and external parasites need to be done at specific times according to the particular country’s regulations. For example, Australia requires most blood tests to be done within 21 days of departure, while New Zealand requires only 16 days for some of its blood tests and up to 30 days for others. Quarantine in these countries is very strict and if these requirements are not met your pet will not be allowed into the country.

If you decide that you cannot bring your animal back with you and you want to rehome it here in Vanuatu, you will need to allow plenty of time to find a good home. A bit of planning can help you get a great home for your dog or cat, things such as notifying the vet clinic at least three months before you go, emailing all of your friends, sharing it on Facebook, etc. Get the word out as much as you can!

Obviously the healthier your dog or cat is, the easier it will be to find a new home so make sure your pet is up to date with its vaccinations, worming, heartworm and flea treatments. A de-sexed animal is also always easier to rehome, as no-one wants to have to deal with someone else’s pregnant dog or cat.

The best approach is to make the decision of whether you will be taking or leaving your pet at least two or three months before leaving and act accordingly. If exporting, please bring your pet to the Vet Clinic to do all the necessary vaccinations, microchipping and work out a time line for the next visits based on the departure date. It is easier than you think, with the correct planning!


With Doctor Karin O’Connor, from Port Vila Vet Clinic