My Experience with International Pet Travel: Part 2

Planning international pet travel was one of the most stressful things I think I’ve ever had to do! For those who are unaware, I recently finished my time on the island for school and am now relocating to Chicago for the clinical portion of medical school. My boyfriend and I brought back two dogs and one cat with us from the island. I previously wrote about Planning International Pet Travel in an earlier posting, and I just wanted to follow up with another post since I know many people were interested in the process and experience.

I was actually pleasantly surprised with LIAT Airline Cargo handling my animals. However, I did not appreciate how they did not give me updates on my animals or let me see them physically being boarded on the plane. This caused me a lot of anxiety because I had no idea if they were physically on the plane or not until we landed in Barbados. Knowing LIAT and how they handle other cargo and baggage, I didn’t trust them at all… I’m just so thankful to never have to travel with them again and that my animals are safe! Another thing that LIAT failed to mention was that I had to get in touch with a broker before traveling to get a ‘shipping bill’ for the animals, which cost $60EC dollars. That was no big deal because the agent with LIAT Cargo was able to get that for me, but if anyone is planning future travel, be advised. The shipping bill is necessary in addition to the airway bill, which is what LIAT Cargo organized.

Once we got into Barbados, everything went smoothly. We saw the animals being taken off the LIAT plane and they were all well and happy. The transit officer who was assigned to the animals was one of the nicest people I have ever met, and I instantly felt safe knowing that she was looking after my animals. LIAT also failed to tell me there was another $40USD fee that I needed to pay the transport company who took the animals to/from the planes, but I was able to do that with the transit officer. The animals stayed in the animal reception center, which is a little air-conditioned trailer on the outskirts of the airport. It was a relief that I did not have to do anything with them during the layover because it would have been stressful for us checking in both animals and 4 suitcases into American Airlines. After I cleared Barbados customs, I was taken to the animal reception center to pay for the transit permit and the transportation handling fees. The transit officer handled everything with them for me in regards to their transition through Barbados.

Once we were boarding American Airlines, we were able to see the animals again and I had to sign a paper stating they were offered food/water before the flight. I was a little more nervous for the second flight because it was 4 hours from Barbados to Miami, and on a much bigger plane. However, when we got to Miami and finally saw them, they were so excited and happy to see us. Going through US customs was NOT difficult at all. We collected the animals and luggage and showed our paperwork to the customs officer showing that they have all their vaccinations and health certificates. The officers were actually commenting on how cute the animals were, and they were thankful that we took them from the island for better lives.

Even though I had been stressed for weeks trying to get everything organized for them to leave, I don’t regret it. I’m so glad that all my furry babies made it safely to the US, and can’t wait to see how much they love their new lives!

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