Everyone loves dogs. And why not? We’ve selectively (but mostly unintentionally) bred them to be the perfect companions over a period of at least 15,000 years. Dogs are always happy to see you, they make great surrogate children, and if you’re a single man they’re a fantastic way to meet chicks (chicas too). What’s not to love?
There is, however, a darker side to doggy ownership. Owning a dog can seriously restrict your movements. Going away for a week or even a weekend isn’t so easy when you have a canine in your life, and moving countries can seem impossible.
So is it? Let’s take a look at how you would move to Argentina with a dog, and what life would be like for your pooch if it were here with you.
Formal requirements (paperwork)
In order to bring a dog to Argentina you have to comply with some formalities. If you don’t, your doggy friend may be placed in quarantine on arrival at Ezeiza, and you obviously don’t want that.
Here’s what you need:
1. Microchip: Not actually a requirement, but a microchip (if your dog doesn’t already have one) is highly recommended. If you have it done you’ll get a Microchip Implantation Record to prove it.
2. Rabies Vaccination & Certificate: If your pooch is over 3 months of age it must have a Rabies Certificate. The rabies vaccination must occur at least 30 days prior to departure but not more than 360 days before departure.
3. A Vet Health Certificate (Form 7001 in the USA): This is the standard animal Health Certificate. It must be filled out by an accredited vet and must be issued within 10 days of the departure.
Note that the certificate must be written in or translated into Spanish and must contain: your name and address; the animal’s data including breed, sex, date of birth, size, color any particular signs; country of origin and transit points if applicable, and a statement that the animal has been examined within 10 days of departure and doesn’t show any clinical signs of diseases.
4. A Government Vet Endorsement: The forms mentioned above (Microchip Implantation Record, Rabies Certificate and Vet Health Certificate) must be sent to your local government vet for their stamp of approval. Contact your local representative (do an internet search to find their details) on the best way of handling this.
Alright, the formalities have been attended to and your dog is ready to fly. But what about the transport itself?
Air travel with a dog
Airlines are of course no strangers to moving live cargo along with their live passengers. However, conditions in a shipping kennel in the cargo hold of a plane aren’t pleasant: it will be dark, extremely cold and very noisy when the plane is in flight.
If you want to improve things for your doggy pal you should do the following:
* Buy the shipping kennel with plenty of time to spare and get your dog used to it by confining him or her in there for short periods of time with a treat;
* For bedding, insert a solid piece cardboard (cut to fit) in the bottom of the kennel and cover it with shredded newspaper;
* Choose a non-stop flight, both to minimize the journey time and because the cargo hold will be subject to unpredictable local temperature conditions during the stopover;
* Dress him or her in a winter coat; and
* Put one of your unwashed t-shirts in the kennel (the familiar smell will be reassuring).
Note that if your dog is small enough to fit in a carry-on bag, you might be able to find an airline that allows dogs in the cabin, a much more comfortable option.
The above things will make flying more comfortable for your dog, but if you really want the best for your pooch you should send him or her on a dedicated cargo plane (for example a FedEx or UPS plane) instead. Conditions on these planes are much more dog-friendly, as they’re loaded on the forward main cabin pallet. This area has light, air conditioning, and no more noise than you get in the passenger cabin of a regular plane. Also, it’s not uncommon for one of the pilots to be in this area at times during the flight, so if your dog isn’t happy there’ll be someone who might be able to help.
It’s particularly a good idea to send your dog on a dedicated cargo plane if it’s a short-nosed breed (like a bulldog or a pug), as these sometimes have respiratory problems on plane – indeed, sometimes they don’t survive plane journeys in cargo holds.
If you send you dog on a cargo plane, don’t forget to put written instructions regarding your dog on the airbill. Write them in both English and Spanish and include (of course) a contact phone number in Buenos Aires.
Some people recommend giving your dog a tranquilizer before the flight, but this is not a good idea unless your dog is naturally very highly strung and will be frantic during the flight. One problem with tranquilizers is that doped doggies aren’t able to pant if too hot or curl up if they are too cold, and another is that if they are sick they can choke on the vomit. If you nevertheless think your dog might need a tranquilizer, see your vet about it at least a couple of weeks before the flight.
Keeping a dog in Buenos Aires
Argentines are dog lovers on the whole and keeping a dog in Buenos Aires is not difficult. There are good dog food brands here (two of the best are Eukanuba and Royal Canin), and dogs are usually welcome in bars and restaurants. Just ask for a little dish and you can feed your dog something to keep him or her happy. Beef empanadas usually go down well! Parks are almost always very dog-friendly too.
Note that it can be risky to leave your dog tied up outside a chino or supermarket in Buenos Aires. The reason is that people regularly steal dogs, sometimes in order to sell them and sometimes in order to ransom them back to the owner! (That sounds kind of funny, but it won’t be if it happens to you.) If your dog is a mutt then of course your risks of falling victim to doggy theft are much reduced.
If you don’t have time to walk your dog every day, you can of course hire one of Buenos Aires’ famous dog-walkers. The easiest way to set this up is to ask a neighbor or the doorman in your apartment building if they know of one (the word for ‘dog-walker’ is ‘paseaperros’).
Taxi drivers in Buenos Aires are usually fine with taking dogs, though your pup will probably have to sit on the floor. If it’s an important journey then it’s better to book a remis (an unmarked private taxi). When you phone to book it, say that you have a dog (‘tengo un perro’) and request a quote for the trip. It’ll usually be pretty close to what a taxi would cost and you can book the return journey as well if you need to.
So there you go! You don’t have to leave your pooch behind if you want to move to Buenos Aires – it’s not so hard to relocate with your dog, and not so hard to keep on here.
One final thing: if you get stuck, there’s a company called Pets Ventura that has its head office in Buenos Aires. They specialize in pet relocation, have a vet service, a pet hotel, pet day care, do pet training and more.