The Foreign Service Journal, May 2012

MA Y 2 0 1 2 / F OR E I GN S E R V I C E J OU R N A L 47 A F S A N E W S S hipping a beloved pet is one of the most daunting challenges Foreign Service employees face when transi- tioning to and frompost. The process can be complicated, time-consuming and expensive. It involves a varietyof tasks that cantry thepatienceandgoodnatureof even the most seasoned globetrotter. Yet year after year, despite frustrations andstiff chal- lenges, theygothroughthedrill becausepets are an integral part of their families. For more than 30 years, the Foreign Service Institute’sOverseas BriefingCenter hasworkedwith thousands of FSpet own- ers, Department of State offices, overseas posts and outside experts to fit the pieces of the pet shipping puzzle together. Getting Ready for Post As you sort out your bid list, find out early what the pet entry requirements are. Depending on the animal and the coun- try, the process can take anywhere from a month to six months. Once you receive your assignment, let post management know you will be bringing a pet. This is also a good time to reconfirm pet entry requirements with the post’s general ser- vices office. Shipping Your Pet Your first stop should be the Overseas Briefing Center, where a variety of helpful documents are available. OBC’s popular “Shipping of Pets Checklist” provides pet owners with a brief overview of the myri- ad items they will need to consider: certi- fications, inoculations, pertinent U.S. Transportation Security Administration regulations,microchip requirements, basic methods of airline shipping, specific American-carrierpet shippingpolicies, pro- fessional pet shipper links, an explanation of possible partial reimbursements and more. In addition, OBC’s pet section on the department’sOpenNet ( offers crucial information, including a chart listing each country’s pet restrictions or quarantines and other post-specific infor- mation. Count on OBC OBCupdates and verifies its pet infor- mation by working with State’s Office of Transportation and Allowances and the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s Animal and Plant Health Inspection Service in Annapolis,Md. It alsomaintains contacts withpet shipping agents andairlines to stay abreast of developments. Pet Owners Class Each year, the FSI Transition Center sponsors its popular Traveling with Pets seminar in mid-April. The class features five subject-matter expertswhoaddress the crucial aspects of pet shipping and pet health considerations. Videos of the sem- inar are available for loan at theOBC. For more informationon the course, pleasevisit The Annual Pet Cable The cable is drafted by the Office of Transportationandgoes toall posts inearly spring. It includes general pet-related infor- mation. Game Changes As of March, FS pet owners faced an additional hurdle. After United Airlines’ merger with Continental Airlines, United no longer accepts pets as accompaniedbag- gage (pets small enough to meet United’s in-cabin requirements are still accepted). United’s new PetSafe® policy requires pet owners to ship their pets as cargo, a more expensive and complicated procedure. Tomake the situationmoredifficult, the TSAnowrequires that all pets entering the U.S. as cargo be shipped by a profession- al pet agent. Reports from some posts already indicate that these fees add con- siderably to the cost. Following concerns expressed by U.S. military pet owners, United agreed topro- videmilitarypersonnel embarkingonaper- manent change of station a waiver to the new rules. Pet owners —whose pet and kennel have a combinedweight of 99.9 lbs or less — now have the option to check their animal as accompaniedbaggage toany destination for a set fee of $250. After sending a letter to United’s top management, AFSA President Susan Johnson coordinated a 48-hour FS pet owners e-mail blitz that resulted in more than3,000messages to the airline request- ing waiver parity with the military. AFSA’s campaign was ratcheted up a fewnotcheswhenoffices andorganizations inside and outside the department joined the cause. These included the Under Secretary for Management, the Bureau of Administration, theTransitionCenter, the ForeignAffairsFriendsofAnimalsNetwork and theAssociates of theAmericanForeign Service Worldwide. In Conclusion Despite the many challenges, we are confident that Foreign Service pet owners will continue todoall they can tokeep their cherishedcompanionswith themwherever theygo in theworld. It isnever aneasy task, but usingOBC’s resources earlyonwill help to answer yourmany questions. Formore information, please e-mail FSIOBCInfo Maureen Johnston is a resource specialist in the Overseas Briefing Center, a division of the Transition Center at FSI, and an expert on ship- ping pets, as well as logistics for an overseas move and returning to the Washington, D.C., area. Traveling with Our Pets BY MAUREEN JOHNSTON ADDITIONAL PET RESOURCES Transition Center Internet: Transition Center Intranet: FS Pets Yahoo Group: Foreign Affairs Friends of Animals Network (FAFAN): Office of Transportation: AFSAWeb site: