Importing Pets – Un Milagro de Amor

For the love of the 4 legged family member.  It’s a special kind of love that one can only understand if they themselves have ever had a pet.  It is truly the miracle of love.  The emptiness, the feeling of being incomplete without your loved ones extends to the family pet.  Never leave them behind.

I was at the airport trying to learn what is needed to bring the family pet into Dominican Republic.  I thought, rather than phone, let’s go directly to the source.  I wanted the absolute, unequivocal truth and details for the necessary documents.  After a little searching I found the right department, OFICINAS GUBERNAMENTALES – Sanidad Animal y Vegetal.  For the protection of the public, all animals are screened upon entry.

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It’s a small unpretentious and unassuming office.  A simple desk with a file cabinet and one of the friendliest most helpful individuals I’ve encountered in this country so far.  The secretary had most of the answers that I needed.  Two certificates, one of vaccinations, and the other an animal health certificate.  In Canada, it is a two step process.  The veterinarian does step one on the forms and the Canadian Food and Inspection Agency finishes the International Certificates.  The website says no more than 20 days prior to entering Dominican Republic, the veterinarian says 30.  Gonna go with the web on this, in the event it’s a different veterinarian.

Incidentally on a point of note, some countries have passports for pets including photos.  I was surprised to hear this.

While we awaited the vet, the secretary could see how distressed I was.  Life has not been easy the last few years and it’s taking it’s toll on me.  This isn’t Canada.  Very little in this country seems to go smooth the first time around.  I want things to be simple, for once!  I want my daughter to enter without problems, for my cat to not be quarantined, for things to go smooth.  This is what I conveyed to the secretary.  Stress levels are greatly reduced by preparation.

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This sweet amazing woman, like so many other women here, took my hand and said not to worry, God will take care of everything.  She rambled on a bit with a miraculous faith that made her glow.  My Spanish isn’t great but I managed to understand a fair bit.  I was very touched.  I am not a huge believer, not by any stretch of the imagination.  But there is something about this country, the conviction in their voices, they truly believe!  They are not simply going through the motions.  They believe.  It’s an infectious belief.  A faith so strong, so real, so tactile, that it draws me in a little closer.  How could it not?  Pure belief is astounding.  “These people live their faith,” says my friend Sharon.  There are no truer words.

I felt the tears well in my eyes and overflow ever so slightly.  My lower lip quivered as I tried to regain my composure.  My friend looked away so as to leave me with my dignity.  I am fortunate.

We waited for the vet to come in and announce whether or not the documents needed to be translated or legalized.  The veterinarian entered the office and sat at her desk.  He said translation and legalization were unnecessary.  Saved me 300 dollars on that answer.  I had emailed the Dominican Embassy in Canada and they were adamant that they needed translation.  My advice and glad I did … GO TO THE SOURCE.  He too was a very kind man.  I told him that I wanted to make sure that everything was in perfect order as I don’t want my cat through some bureaucratic error to end up in quarantine.  He told me that animals that come into the country accompanied by their owners rarely are quarantined.  I’m very happy about this.  “Ella es muy vieja, 12 anos,” I told him.  He was amazed when I told him she’s rarely left the house, not even to go outside.

I chatted with the veterinarian for a bit, getting to know the lay of the land here regarding animals and disease.  This country is not rabies free and I was surprised when he told me that very few strays carry the disease.  The have other medical problems but rabies is not high on the list.  Rats!  Rats he said, they are the carriers.  Like any other seaport, there are a lot of rats in this country.

If you ever get bit by a rat or any other animal, scrub that wound with a lot of soapy water and get to the hospital.  You will need shots for rabies prevention!  In Canada, if you can trap the animal, they will have the brain examined for rabies and if you are lucky, you will not need the shots.  I don’t know if that is the same in DR.  I wish I had thought to ask that question.  There was a time, about 12 years ago, that I was bit by a stray cat.  I was lucky.  I trapped it, dropped it off with the RCMP on the way to the hospital to get checked out, and they sent it off for testing.  4 long sleepless nights later, NO need for shots.  Normally it’s a 24 hour or so turnaround but they lost the specimen on the Greyhound bus.  Thanks folks :S

This adventure ended on a high note.  Firstly, this was an amazing experience with superlative customer service and care.  Secondly, saved $300.00 and maybe a little of my soul as well …

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