Wednesday, March 6, 2013

Making Aliyah With Pets--Plan Ahead!

This part of the Aliyah process creates more than a little stress!   On one hand, you worry about getting your own paperwork submitted and approved, and now you have another rabbit trail to follow to get everything necessary for your animals to travel with you as well!

I have two cats.  My furry friends are brother and sister, almost 10 years old.  One was abandoned by her mother (a feral cat) in the crawl space under my Craftsman house in 2003.  When I located the source of the insistent "meows", I found a little black kitten with her eyes still closed. They opened up later that day, so I figured she was about 10 days old.

I fed her pet milk from a doll bottle.  I can't explain the attachment you get to something that is so helpless.  I saw the other 5 kittens in and around the yard. She was clearly the runt of the litter and appeared to have some issue with her hip or her hind leg.  Obviously her bio mom left her to die. But she was such a little fighter!!

After about 10 days, I went out into the yard to find a sibling for her.  4 of them were calico kittens.  They each hissed at me when I tried to reach down to pick them up.  Then I saw him.  The fluffy, gray kitten.  He was off in a corner alone.  I reached down for him and he just stared back at me with those kitten steel blue-grey eyes.  No hissing, no scratching, no fear.  I pulled him up to my neck and said, "Do you want me to love you?" and he just started purring.

Owen and Jasmine have been a huge part of my life since then.  My kids say I love the cats more than them, ha ha! I don't love them MORE, but it's clearly a love that is just as strong, but in a slightly different way. 

OK, that was the back story.  Feral kittens that are now domesticated.  They have had regular check ups and vaccinations.  They have even flown with me to Israel a few times.  So I was already used to THAT required paperwork.  But now, it's much more intensive and the steps must be done in the proper order.  And it's not cheap.  Let me share with you what my cats need done, and what has been accomplished so far.

First off, you won't be able to go to Israel on a US Airways flight, as they don't allow pets.  I was on a webinar last week and double checked if that policy was restricted to in-cabin pets, and was told "they don't do pets, in the cabin or in the cargo hold."  All righty then!  So that means you must be on an El-Al flight if making Aliyah with pets.  I've never flown either airline yet, so I'm learning their policies as I go along.

I called my Vet with all of the requirements that Israel needed for import.  I got an estimate back:  $700 PER CAT--and that was a discount on their usual fee schedule.  Yikes!

Here is the breakdown PER cat:

1. Routine Exam $40
2.  Rabies Vaccine (1yr) $23.60
3.  FVRCP Annual Vaccination  $10.00
4.  ISO MIcrochip $52.00
5.  Office Visit-Doctor 4 weeks after implantation $25.00
6.  Rabies Titre-FAVN $356.00  (takes 3-4 weeks to get results)
7. Routine Exam no sooner than 10 days before travel $40.05
8. International Health Certificate $126.18 no sooner than 10 days before travel

Oh but wait!  There's more!!  After that's all said and done, and within the 10 days of your flight, your paperwork must be certified by the USDA.  Go to to find the location nearest where you live.  Note that you may have to travel out of state, like I do.  What I did find out today, is that they just need to certify the paperwork, they do NOT need to see your animals!!  :)  Make sure your Vet has the NVAP accreditation!  Everything you do may be for naught without this certification on your paperwork!

Needless to say, that's quite a chunk of change.  I decided I must cut corners wherever I could.  I found that the SPCA was doing a vaccination clinic last month.  I took Jasmine and Owen, and they received 3 year rabies shots for just $15 per animal.  Cha-Ching!  Saved $310.80 there averaged over 3 years.  Then, amazingly, my county was offering FREE MICROCHIPPING for a limited time.  I called to ask what frequency of chip they were implanting, and was told they only use the ISO standard...which is the frequency that Israel requires.  Cha-Ching!!  Saved $154 thanks to County Animal Control Services!!

I still need to have the Rabies Titre done for both cats. I haven't been able to find a break on that test.  Another Vet in town that I called charged $500 each to do it!  All of the samples from the USA go to Kansas State University.  From there, the results can take up to a month.  NOTE:  The Titre test cannot be done sooner than 30 days after the last Rabies vaccination, AND the ISO Microchip must already be implanted before the blood sample is drawn.

Next week I can take them for their Rabies Titre test.  I wish the test was not so costly, but I must do it if they are to come with me.  Then ten days before I leave, I will take them for their travel exam and have the Vet fill out the International Health Certificate which you can print off of the website I listed above. Even though my region's USDA office is in another state, it's just a 3 hour drive from where I live, so I can get it done all in one day. I have no idea what THEIR fee will be to certify it, but when I find out, I will update this page.

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