Recruiting With 4-Legged Friends

Are your chances of landing an overseas teaching gig diminished if your travel companion is a full-sized poodle? How about an 8-pound Siamese cat? Most everyone loves cats & dogs but that doesn’t mean they are always invited. Going international with a 4-legged friend requires extensive planning. Travel arrangements, documentation, vaccinations, dietary needs & visits to the vet are just the tip of the iceberg. An obstacle you may not be able to overcome is a destination that considers dogs & cats ‘unclean’ animals, not to be touched.

At interview, pets could be seen as a complication that might keep you from showing up for the job. Extremes in weather have prompted airlines to restrict pet-travel months for animals shipped in the cargo hold. Oftentimes the start of school & airline pet-travel restrictions conflict. Also consider that in this time of pandemic concerns, it’s hard enough to enter most countries as a human; a pet in tow could complicate matters beyond resolution. Are you ready to leave your companion behind? Are you prepared to answer that question at an interview?

The key to a successful recruiting experience with pets is to know the laws related to bringing your pet into the country you’re considering for a career move. Showing the interviewer you’ve done your homework & see no obstacles to your pet coming along goes a long way to making the topic a non-issue. Loads of educators live overseas with their pets & even travel with them through an array of countries during school vacations. The key is Research & Planning.

ISR asks: Were you a teaching candidate this recruiting season with a pet in tow? How did that experience play out? If you’re already overseas with your pet, what advice do you have to Share? Is Covid playing a factor in recruiting with a pet? Would you leave your pet behind if it meant that’d be the only way to get the job?

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Taking Your Pet to a Developing Nation

We all love and want the very best for our pets. However, bringing a beloved canine/feline friend to your next International Teaching assignment could prove to be a bad idea, unless of course, you come prepared.

If your plans include relocating to a fully developed nation where pets are cherished and support services abound, you have little to worry about. If you’re headed to a developing nation, Read On! Inadvertently subjecting your pet to a situation that could jeopardize its health and safety CAN be avoided.

The Big 3
Nutrition, Veterinary Services & Pet Daycare

Nutrition is a major concern when you move with a pet to a developing nation. High-quality pet foods we take for granted in the West are not generally available in places where the majority of the populace may not be able to afford quality nutrition for themselves. What will your pet eat on a daily basis? Can it live on leftovers? It may be wise to start now introducing your pet to meals that you concoct. Acclimating your pet to a new diet well before the move will make mealtime a familiar event and help ease the transition into a new environment.

Veterinarian Care is equally as important as meeting your pet’s nutritional needs. Be aware that veterinarians at your overseas destination may be well experienced treating goats, sheep, cattle or even elephants, but have limited experience with canines or felines. If your pet falls sick or hurt, you’ll want to be prepared. Bring basic pet meds with you such as flea and tick medication, antibiotics and worming medicine. Entire lists can be found online.

Pet Daycare should be well thought out. What will your pet be doing while you’re teaching during the day? You could leave your dog alone in the house or backyard (weather permitting) or under the care of a housekeeper or nanny, but chances are your household help has never had a pet dog, may not even like cats, and is not attuned to how to care for a pet who’s a member of your family. Finding help that reacts positively to your pet on introduction may be the best way to go. A maid who hides behind you when your dog approaches is a poor choice.

Other Considerations

Beyond the BIG 3 — nutritional needs, Veterinary Services and daycare requirements — it’s important to carefully research the country/city of proposed destination. Familiarize yourself with local customs and idiosyncrasies that could cause you to decide it’s not the right place for a pet.

Take for example Cambodia. Over 100 dog-meat restaurants have been identified in Phnom Penh, the capital. How safe would your dog be if it got out on its own?

In Ecuador, Thailand and other developing nations, street dogs abound. Would you fear for your dog’s safety while out on a leash?

In certain parts of the world, dogs and cats are seen as “dirty” beasts and to be avoided. Your pet may not do well with constant rejection, not to mention the displeasure of your neighbors.

Quarantines should certainly not be overlooked. Up to 30 days or more of confinement upon entry into many countries is common. Pets have died in quarantine from neglect, and not just in developing nations. Find out about the requirements for bringing your pet back into your home country. Careful research can prevent tragedy.

   A Recipe for Success 

♦ Up-to-date, first-hand information is the best way to assure a good experience for both you and your pet. Contact teachers with pets who are currently at the school you are considering for your next career move. Ask for some names and contact information at your interview. Have a prepared list of questions and concerns.

♦ The interviewer at a Recruiting Fair may well have brought a family dog or cat with them to the school and can be a wealth of information.

♦ Don’t be shy! Post questions on this Discussion Board and to the ISR Open Forum. Other teachers who have moved overseas with pets are sure to respond with insightful advice.

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Getting to a New School with Your Dog in Tow

Going international with man’s best friend can be a rigorous exercise in red tape, rules, regulations, paperwork, procedures and what seems like endless visits to the vet.

To help you navigate the often murky waters of traveling internationally with your pet, a small group of ISR Members who are experienced with international pet relocation are here to share experiences and offer advice.

Of course, your situation may be different and unique.  So use this information as a jumping off point from which to launch your inquiry into the specifics of what may be required of you and your pet before and after take off.

Before Recruiting for an Overseas Position

The very first step to going overseas with a pet is to learn whether your breed will be allowed into the country on which you’ve set your sights. More than a few countries have breed restrictions. Imagine the stress of finding a teaching position in the land of your dreams, only to later discover your dog is not welcome.*

The next step is Googling to find out what living in the specific country with a pet is actually like. Look for dog parks, for example, or whether pets are allowed on public transport. Look at housing availability and price differences. Do you need a yard? Look at climate and vaccination requirements. And once you have made a determination, look at quarantine rules. REMEMBER, all of this should be done BEFORE interviewing or even applying to schools.*

The Job Search

You’ve done your homework and are certain you’ll be interviewing for schools in countries that are fido friendly. Well done! Now it’s time for some first-hand advice. When in a recruiting interview ask the interviewer to shed some light on what it’s like to import a dog. Sometimes, admin have their own dog which makes them a good source of first-hand information. Other times they can direct you to staff with dogs. Admin can also answer your questions about school housing for teachers with dogs and/or what they have seen out and about. Be sure to ask.*

Transporting Your Pet

This part of the process will be the most rigorous. To begin with, you’ll need an airline-approved crate that your dog knows and in which s/he is comfortable. Note that for domestic shipping the crate-size requirements are different than for international.*

Shipping crate preparation

Illiane_Blues:  Make sure to get the dog crate well in advance. ITs I knew who had a dog used to have him sleep in there the month leading up to the flight so it would be familiar. Others tried that as well, but when their dogs refused to give up their regular sleeping spots, they put the food bowls in there so the dogs would have a positive connotation with the crates.

Thames Pirate:  One thing we did–we wore old t-shirts for workouts and then didn’t wash them. We put them under the padding in the dog crate so that it would smell like us and be a calming thing. Be aware if your dog eats things like that, it might be a choking hazard.

Find out what health papers are required 

Thames Pirate: Some carriers require certain vaccinations months before transport, so plan accordingly and talk to your vet. We needed a rabies shot AFTER the implantation of an international microchip. Then we had to wait a month before the next round of shots. We also needed a 10-day health certificate valid upon arrival (not departure). You will want a buffer to cover cancellations or delays.

Eion_Padraig:  A lot of it will be country-specific, and some may depend on where you’re bringing the dog from and if it’s an area that has rabies. Some island countries may not allow importation at all or have highly restrictive quarantine, so you could be limited by the countries you consider. 

Choose an airline and a route

Thames Pirate:  Lufthansa is hands down the international animal-shipping giant and Frankfurt the best airport. They do millions of animals ranging from pets to exotics. But if you can avoid layovers, do so. I would steer clear of United–enough horror stories to make me nervous. We rented a car and drove a few hours on both ends rather than fly city to city–avoided two layovers and it was way easier on the animals. We just requested that from the school in advance.

Temperature restrictions

Eion_Padraig:  One issue is that airports often limit animals on planes if the temperature taking off is too hot/cold or the landing location is too hot/cold. Since most schools are on an Aug-June schedule, there may be a heat issue in the northern hemisphere or in the tropics. You will want to be careful with times and locations for take-off and landing.

In the weeks prior to departure

Thames Pirate:  A week before we left we did the vet visit, then we sent an overnight FedEx of the paperwork to the office for the stamp, and included a prepaid express-return envelope. The vet followed up with a phone call. Talk to your vet about medication for the flight. Generally they will give anti-anxiety rather than sleeping meds, or nothing at all. Our vet was familiar with shipping dogs and talked us through the whole thing.

Checked luggage or cargo?

Thames Pirate:  A large dog such as a Shepherd might fit the checked luggage size requirements and would be on your flight, but he might instead need to be shipped on a cargo flight. The latter is a lot more expensive, and your best bet is to go ahead and have the dog sent later. Depending on the time of year, this might be your only option, especially for warmer climates.

The pet-shipping company alternative

Thames Pirate:  There are companies that will do everything for you but we have always done everything ourselves, including the cargo-flight dogs. The checked-luggage dog was only about $200, while the cargo-flight dogs were a LOT more expensive. Talk to your school about shipping allowance!

Final Thoughts

 Interteach:  Bear in mind that taking a pet overseas can be costly. Meeting quarantine requirements and payments, shipping, and figuring out what to do with a pet during vacation periods are factors you may want to take into consideration early on as you research schools and countries that look good. If you will be leaving your pet behind during breaks you will want to consider if your pet will be OK without you for 3+ weeks. It can be done and has been done. Do your homework and keep your dog’s best interests at the forefront of your decisions.


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* Information courtesy Thames Pirate – ISR Open Forum Member

Parking Your Pets for the Summer

  Dogs and cats make awesome pets and often become our most trusted, cherished companions. When you’re thousands of miles from home and loved ones while living/teaching overseas, a loving pet is truly comforting. A pet owner might say, “My dog/cat is my rock!”

When school’s in session our 4-legged friends are fine spending the day at home with the maid. She refills the water and feed bowls, opens and closes the door to the back yard, and in general can keep our pets from becoming lonely.

Summer vacations do, however, pose a dilemma. Should you take your fury friends with you on a trip back to your home of record, or maybe even on an expedition to a neighboring country? International travel with pets can require quarantine, and airline regulations can certainly be tough to work around. Or, do you leave him behind under the care of your maid?

Have you ever witnessed your maid pat or engage your pet in play? If not, chances are, that’s not going to change in your absence. Unfortunately, not every society elevates dogs and cats to “family member” status they’ve earned in the West. Some groups see dogs and cats as dirty, vile creatures, not to be touched. In Venezuela, for example, what looks like a pet to you or I can end up on a dinner plate due to the dire economic and hunger tragedies currently unfolding.

If you’ve brought your cat or dog to such a place you’ll want to take the utmost caution in deciding on the best situation for your pet during the summer months. Do your homework before you set out with your pet in tow!

ISR asks: What has your experience been owning a pet overseas? 

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Help with International Shipping

 It’s been our experience that shipping agents, used-car salesmen and politicians have one description in common: ‘If they’re breathing, they’re probably concealing something from us.”

Shipping companies are particularly dangerous because once they have your precious, personal belongings in their “care”, they will hold them hostage until you pay all additional, trumped up charges. Everyone at ISR recalls being taken advantage of by a shipping company during one or more of their many international moves. This prompts us to endeavor to keep you safe with our article titled,  Don’t Get Burnt with International Shipping. We strongly recommend you give this article a read if you’re in the process of moving overseas or returning home.

“On my last move oversees the school’s shipper told me I would need to bribe customs $600 to retrieve my shipment due to missing documents. It turned out the documents were just “misplaced” when I produced a receipt proving they had been delivered by UPS to the same man asking for the money. On the return trip home 3 years later, the Stateside company tacked on a $300 sea inspection charge. I imagine that involved looking to see if my sealed crate was still on the boat mid-journey. Thieves!!!”

It’s easy to fall into the trap of believing your “big” international school has clout with their shipping company and this will keep you safe. The truth is, your school’s shipping company only contracts with the company that packs and sends your belongings overseas, and receives them on the return trip. Your school’s shipper may treat you right while in country, but they don’t have reciprocal agreements with companies around the world and commonly use a phone directory to choose the company that handles your goods in your city.

“I got an email this morning, from a shipper which said I need to approve the costs before they proceed with packing. The quote had me paying over $1400! My school provides 3.5 cbm which I thought was plenty, but the quote estimated I would need 5.0 cbm. I’m only shipping 2 office chairs & six or seven boxes. All my stuff is in a storage unit that’s less than 3.5 cbm and I’m probably using 20% of the space. What is going on!?”

It’s important to stay pro-active to avoid being ripped off by unscrupulous shippers. Those of us who have navigated the ordeal of shipping our belongings overseas are here to offer advice to teachers new on the circuit. If you have a question, advice or a good anecdotal story about shipping your goods overseas this Blog is the place to post it.

Going International with Pets

Departing Romania with my big black cat, a customs agent stuck his finger in the cage, gave George Clooney a pat and commented on his huge size. Arriving in Pakistan was just about the same scenario. Were the hours and money I spent to procure George’s travel papers a waste of time? My hunch was that if I didn’t have the correct documents someone would surely have asked to see them.

Traveling with pets is not always so easy.  lf you’re unfortunate enough to be a transit passenger in England and your connecting flight is delayed for some hours, you could find your pet quarantined for up to 6 months.  Also, consider that a long trip in the hold of an airplane could be devastating, if not life threatening for your pet. Lack of food and water and the threat of trauma are dangers to consider. Some international schools won’t hire teachers with four-legged pets while certain cultures view domestic animals quite differently than we do in the West. Your pet may not be welcome.

Going international with pets presents unique situations and problems. ISR invites pet owners to use our Going International with Pets Blog to share information, experiences and anecdotes with other pet owners traveling internationally with their pets.

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