The UK is well-known to the rest of the world as a nation of dog lovers. We just can’t get enough of them. In fact, the Royal Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals (RSPCA) estimates there were 9 million dogs here in 2014.
And that’s not all. We owned 7.9 million cats too. In fact, about one in two households owned a pet – that’s 21 million creatures sharing our homes. And there’s nothing to suggest this number is falling.
So what happens if we decide to move abroad for work? If the family’s going too, leaving a much-loved animal behind is almost unthinkable. Many choose to take them along for a fresh start in a new country.
“We work with lots of clients whose employees are relocating – both on a permanent basis and temporarily,” said Rob Dolbear, managing director at relocation specialist HCR. “Pets are increasingly becoming popular companions for those travelling to pastures new.
“As things stand, moving to Europe is the easiest region for expats because pet passports are standard across member states. Dogs must be microchipped before having a rabies vaccination. And this has to happen at least 21 days before your pet makes its move.
“Even in Europe, owners need to make sure they’ve complied with additional checks and treatments for their canine pals – like blood tests and tapeworm treatments. Cats don’t get away lightly either, they’ll need to go through similar checks.
“Moving outside of Europe can be a little more complicated – and it certainly helps to take advice from relocation experts. In Dubai, for example, the rules and regulations can seem a little overwhelming.
“Expats should be mindful of the fact that co-existing with pets is still relatively unusual there. Taking animals out in public should probably be kept to a minimum. Many are banned from areas like parks and beaches, and they must be restrained elsewhere. Living spaces can be fairly small – and Dubai is incredibly hot during summer – so research and preparation are essential.
“Across in the world, other pets – like rodents, fish and reptiles – attract different laws, rules and regulations. In California, for instance, pet ferrets are prohibited.
“So it’s not just about arranging transport for the relocation. Anyone considering moving abroad with their furry friend should look very carefully at the country they’re going to live in. Check on quarantine rules and then make sure the pet will feel comfortable there. Taking a husky to live in a climate that might reach daytime temperatures in excess of 40 degrees celsius might not be the best idea.
“Ultimately, though, If the new job is perfect and you’re excited about starting life afresh with your family, but you really can’t face leaving your much-loved pet behind, don’t despair. There’s often a lot of red tape to get through – but it can be done. In all four corners of the globe, you’ll find expats happily living with UK-born cats, dogs, rodents and so on.
“They’ve done their homework, taken advice – and their relocations are exactly what they wanted them to be, in the company of those they love most.”