During the years I taught English in Thailand, I met several western teachers who moved to Thailand and other countries around Asia and brought pets with them. Dogs, a rabbit, a guinea pig and two cats — all of them had lived with their owners in the US, Australia or Europe before their owners decided a new job and a new life teaching overseas was what they wanted to do. So Fido and the rest of the menagerie came with them.
If you have just accepted a job teaching English and are wondering if you can take your pet with you, here are answers to some of the questions you’ll probably have, as well as a question for you. If you can take your pet with you when moving abroad to teach English, should you?
Depends which country you’re teaching in – Some countries make it very easy to move most pets from one place to another. Thailand where I live, for instance, seems to be quite welcoming when it comes to dogs, cats and rabbits at least, as I know several westerners who brought theirs with them on the plane. Other countries, however, make it much more difficult and have outright bans on certain types of pets or require them to stay for several months in quarantine before being admitted.
That’s why, before you even start thinking about taking your pet with you when teaching overseas, you need to find out if it’s even feasible. Perusing the embassy’s website of the country you will be teaching in should answer that question for you.
Certificates from your vet – Most countries will require various vaccination certificates from your vet to prove your pet has been vaccinated against many of the dangerous diseases. That means, a month to two months before you leave you will have to get him vaccinated against rabies at the very least, with other vaccinations possibly required depending on the species of your pet.
This is also likely to cost you several hundred dollars, so add that into the projected total cost.
Have you factored in the cost of the flight? – If you do want to take your pet with you overseas, you must factor in the cost of transportation via plane. Depending on the size of your pet, this can be relatively cheap if he is small enough that you have him in a pet container and traveling with you in your seat. If he’s larger and needs to be in a crate in the hold, this will be much more expensive.
Import duty fees – Many countries also charge import duty fees on pets coming in from abroad and. again, these all make taking your pet abroad while you teach possibly prohibitively expensive.
The trauma to your pet – Depending on the type of animal you have as a pet, the trauma of traveling from somewhere like the United States or the UK to much of the world where you are likely to teach English could be terrible.
Not only will he have to endure several vet visits before you leave but, once you’re on your way, he’ll likely be in the hold of a plane all alone for up to 22 hours, if you’re flying to somewhere in Asia for instance, and be away from you all that time.
Upon arrival in the country, it’s usual that an animal is checked over by an airport vet, which adds even more stress to his already traumatic day. Then he’ll be hauled halfway across a foreign city to a likely temporary apartment, while you set out to find an apartment that will accept pets.
Finding an apartment – Remember, many apartments around the world will not accept animals, even something as small as a guinea pig or a rabbit, let alone dogs or cats. Once you take your pet abroad, you will be limited to a very small number of places to live and, in many cases, have to pay a large pet deposit just to move in. It can be done, just be aware of the cost.
Should you take your pet when moving abroad to teach English? – As someone who is a life-long pet lover and owns rabbits myself, if I was moving anywhere in the world for a teaching job I’d have to think long and hard about taking them with me.
The cost is bad enough but, if you’re only going to be in a country for a year or two at the most, it’s an enormous amount of trauma for a beloved pet to endure, only to have to do it all again going back the other way. If you’re planning on being in a country for many years, or permanently, however, that’s a little different.
Overall, I would say factor in the pros and cons, the possible stress your pet will experience, how long you will be there and, of course, the expense, and then make a decision you’re comfortable with. If it was me, however, I’d leave my pets with my parents or a trusted friend, rather than subject them to so much stress and myself to a large amount of money.
Meanwhile, for more information on transporting your pet, there’s an excellent article by the U.S. Department of Transportation that lays down some of the rules and regulations you will need to abide by.