Ever tried to have your dog USDA certified? We have! It’s not exactly the same certification as the beef we eat, but it does prove that our dog is legit for international travel.
It turns out you need to have the USDA APHIS form 7001 signed and dated within 10 days of your border crossing. Not only does it need to be signed by a USDA certified vet, but it also needs to be signed by the state department, which is located in the Capital. Well we will not be crossing the border within 10 days of our departure. And since we are driving, there is no way we can get this form filled out prior to every border crossing we are going to have. Not to mention ever country has different rules and regulations for what they require (requirements by country can be found here).
Now please keep in mind, we are not just discovering this now. We have known about the International health certification for quite a while now. When we started asking our vet about the process about a year and a half ago they told us to wait until we got closer to our departure date. Tried again about six months ago…”wait till you get a little closer”. Tried on Monday…”We will not be able to fulfill your request as you wish”. So, instead of being able to work our options out for the past year and a half, we are now doing the run around in the final hour. In hind site it’s our own fault for putting our faith in the vet’s knowledge of the process. And in their defense, this trip isn’t exactly your run-of-the-mill vacation.
Personally, I feel like the form is more of a formality than anything, and the border guards aren’t going to even look at it, but our vet thinks differently. We tried to get them to leave the date blank so we can fill it out prior to crossing, but they said something about losing their license to practice or something…I’m not really sure how they wouldn’t be comfortable doing that for us, but it’s their loss. So with a 10 day crossing window we are left in a slight predicament. Currently there are a couple of options on the table:
1. Leave the dog behind until we get close to our border crossing date, have him examined, form signed, and loaded onto a plane to California. Not only would this be inconvenient for anyone who is left in charge of Brady (he can be a handful) it would also be a long and anxious trip for us and the dog.
2.Get the document signed by our home vet and forge the date when we get to the border. Although not completely crossed off our list, the consequences can involve up to $10,000 and is punishable by no more than five years in jail. Piece of cake, right?
3. Find a vet in California who will help us out by examining the dog and signing the APHIS form, then proceed to locate the correct USDA department in Los Angeles. Anyone who has not driven across the California border before would think this would be a simple task. However, the California Department of Agriculture will take everything from you, down to the very apple you are eating. This is probably our most likely option but I would imagine there will be some loopholes to jump through.
We have not completely sorted through the options/BS but we think Sarah has a good lead in California. Keep your fingers crossed for Brady!