Tuesday, March 6, 2012

Welcome Man's Best Friend

Yes, I am referring to our dog.  Today is a day of celebration as it marks the end of his 180 day (6 month) quarantine.  Explanation below.  Here he is with me on this wet day in Japan...
Appropriately crossing the Freedom Bridge today
I took this photo of him in San Diego years ago
Japan is a rabies-free country, so pets coming from a country that is not rabies-free need to start the process about 8 months prior to arriving if they do not want their dog stuck in quarantine for 6 months here.  We are very lucky that our dog only had to be kenneled for a little over a week because we got base-housing, and base is a quarantined area which allows the completion of quarantine in-home.   Some dogs are in a kennel the entire 6 months because their families do not get base-housing, and/or their families got a late start on the process.  This is one reason why the military does not recommend bringing pets.  Again, we are very lucky.  It was a very complicated process, with many conflicting directions.  If you are trying to bring your pet, look below for the paperwork you will be required to present.  Definitely make sure you have all this, and check if you need more.

1. Bring your dog to the vet approximately 8 months prior to traveling for the first required rabies vaccine and international microchip.    If you are military, go to a military vet if you can, but it is not mandatory.  You will NEED a SIGNED rabies certificate from this appointment to get on the airplane, and when you arrive in Japan.  I recommend starting an 8 1/2 x 11" envelope for all the forms you will need to travel with.

2.  One month later you will need to get rabies shot #2.  Again, you will need the signed certificate for your entire journey.  Keep it with the certificate for #1 and the international microchip number.

3.  Shortly after rabies shot #2, they will do a "Rabies Titer Test."  This is a blood test that makes sure there is no sign of rabies in your pet.  This is the official start date of the quarantine.  (Quarantine can be completed at home in the states as long as your pet does not come in contact with any other animals.)  When you receive the results of the titer test, keep it with your rabies #1 and #2 certificates.  It will be required prior to boarding the plane.

4.  Send an advance notice form (http://www.maff.go.jp/aqs/english/animal/dog/pdf/notification-dog.pdf) to the airport you will be touching down in in Japan.  (They say 40 days prior, but that is not always required.  Check with your airport.)  Most military airports do not require an advance notice, but check with them just incase they want it.  A receipt notice should be faxed or emailed back to you.  If you do not hear from the airport, make sure to call to see if they got it.

5.  Within 10 days prior to arriving to Japan (I believe 2 days for civilian airports) you need to schedule a vet appointment for a "Veterinary Health Certificate."  For this certificate they will ask for all of your previous paperwork mentioned.  It can be a civilian or military vet.  If you use a military vet, you do not need to go to a USDA office.  If you go to a civilian vet, you will need to have your paperwork stamped at your nearest USDA office.  You will also need a civilian vet to sign form: C-3 below...

5.  If you have to go to a USDA office, you will need all these ORIGINAL forms:
     -Veterinary Health Certificate-Signed and dated within 10 days with international microchip number
     -Signed Rabies Certificate #1
     -Signed Rabies Certificate #2
     -Rabies Titer Results
     -Quarantine Form A: http://www.maff.go.jp/aqs/english/animal/dog/pdf/CertificateA041126.pdf
     -Forms C 1-3: http://www.maff.go.jp/aqs/english/animal/dog/pdf/certificatec100415.pdf
I recommend calling the USDA prior to your appointment to make sure you have all the forms they currently want.  (We had to make an extra trip back to the vet to sign form C-3.)

6. To get on a plane, bring all your paperwork.  Most importantly, they will be looking at your 2 rabies certificates, and making sure your veterinary certificate is stamped by the USDA within 10 days of flying.  (Our flight was delayed a day, and we barely made it, so plan ahead!)

7.  If your dog has not yet completed the quarantine, it will either need to be completed on approved base housing, or in an off-base kennel.  (No dogs allowed off base anywhere without completion of quarantine, except approved kennels.)

8.  If you are finishing up quarantine in Japan, your dog will have an exam when entering the country and exams every 30 days thereafter until the final quarantine exam.  And good news, KENNELING DUE TO QUARANTINE is reimbursable up to $500 for family pets on PCS moves. :)

This may be a helpful link... http://www.usarj.army.mil/organization/vet/index.aspx

That is it!  Best of luck bringing your pet to Japan. :)

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