Emigrating to the UK with our five furry four paws

I have a post for you by a super guest writer today who agreed to me sharing her wonderful story of emigrating WITH her pets!

She is a poster child for REALLY caring for her animals. You can find Gillian on her wordpress blog


Emigrating to the UK with our five furry four paws

We have five animals of which all except one are rescue pets.

There are three cats Amber, Lilly and Tic-Tac and two dogs Tala, a mixed breed Afrikaner type dog and Quinn a husky cross

Amber Wright

Amber Wright


When we started exploring the option of emigration at the beginning of last year, it was with the full agreement by everyone in the family that if the pets could not go with us, we would not go.


My sister and I have experienced pets being left behind when we as young children left Zambia to come to South Africa and it was very traumatic for us. We also felt that as children we would have acclimatised and settled into a new country much quicker if our beloved pets had been with us. This is a point that families should consider


I do not want to judge, but I am always so distressed to see emails being sent around of families trying to find “last-minute” homes for pets when they are emigrating. People this is not a sudden decision one makes, there are months of planning and preparation that go into making such a move, so why if you are not taking your pets with you is this not something you are preparing for right from the beginning. They are not disposable objects, but living breathing creatures and if I had left my pets behind I would have wanted to vet the home and do a few spot checks to ensure they were OK.


Lilly Wright

Lilly Wright

I think most people are also unaware of the quarantine laws having been changed and they believe the costs to be prohibitive which they are not.


Fortunately for us, the UK quarantine rules changed at the end of 2011, but even if they had not, we would gladly have factored the cost of the whole process into our budget, and we know that if our animals had to undergo the stress of the quarantine period, we would have overcome that once they were reunited with us.


Sorting out our pets was the first step we took in the whole preparation process. We chatted to our vet, googled and then contacted a couple of pet transit companies and asked them to lead us through the process and then give us quotes. We were pleasantly surprised when the quotes arrived, as they were not as much as we had expected.


Once you have chosen the pet transit / relocation company, there is a process to be followed and timing is crucial.

Quinn Wright

Quinn Wright


    ∙         Pets have to be neutered /spayed and one needs certificated proof of this∙         All our pets dogs and cats receive annual inoculations anyway , but they all had to receive rabies inoculations and they also all had to be micro-chipped
    ∙         Exactly one month after the rabies inoculations, we had to take them back to the vet for bloods to be drawn which are then sent off to Ondestepoort for testing so that  Rabies clearance certificates could be issued by the state vet.
    ∙         This was also a chance for our vet to scan the pets to see that the micro-chips were working.
    ∙         From time of the bloods being drawn, a three month period has to elapse before the pets can be relocated as a precaution to ensure there are no symptoms, pets may not leave before this period is up! It is vital for people to remember this as we fell short here and it affected the kennelling of our pets
    ∙         It only took a couple of weeks for us to receive the clearance certificates from Ondestepoort and also from the company that supplies the micro-chips ( which can be checked online)
    ∙         Pets are not allowed to be sedated during the flight. But we were encouraged to have them all on natural calmatives a week before the move and were assured by the pet transit company that they would also administer anything if needed.
    ∙         We decided that we didn’t want the pets at home and stressed during the packing up of our furniture, we arranged for the pet transit company to fetch all five pets the day before the movers came into the house. As we live in Durban, they were kept in kennels here overnight and then flown to JHB the next morning. We had anticipated them being flown straight out to the UK, but we were a week earlier than the rabies blood date so they were kennelled in JHB for a week and then flown out to the UK. ( again I stress it is important to remember the timeline to avoid such delays).
    ∙         They arrived in the UK and were transported straight to kennels near where we are going to be staying. They are being boarded there until we find a home to rent that is pet safe and pet friendly, but in the interim we can visit them and play with them every day and reassure them that everything will be OK. 
Tala Wright

Tala Wright

The pet transit company we used have been fantastic indeed. Daily reports ( well more than daily as we were phoning often to check up and they were not phased at all) They let us know when each step of the process took place as well. The kennels in JHB were heated and the pets were allowed out into an enclosed garden for playtime once a day. The majority of the staff also live on the premises.


When they loaded them ready to take them to OR Tambo, they also took photos of each of them and emailed them to us.


All of them have handled the whole process remarkably well, except our one little cat Lilly who is a timid girl who doesn’t like strangers and who is exhibiting signs of stress. But we are managing this and we know she will relax once she is in our new home with us.


There is a lot of paperwork, and I would advise that all correspondence is organised properly to enable fast access as needed. We were also advised to make copies of everything  so we had proof just in case documents were mislaid at all.

Tic Tac Wright

Tic Tac Wright


Our biggest challenge is a currently ongoing one of finding rented accommodation that will not only accept pets but that is safe and secure for our pets. A lot of UK landlords are not keen on pets because of possible mess etc, but we have been told by a couple of agencies, that if one is prepared to offer a slightly higher deposit but mostly  guarantee that the property will be professionally cleaned when vacated, that there is a way around this reluctance. We are prioritising our search for a house as we want our pets safely with us as soon as possible. We know that homes and gardens in the UK are smaller, but our cats are largely indoor cats anyway and we will be able to safely take our two dogs for walks once we are settled, which we dared not do in SA.


People this is doable and with far less expense and stress than we anticipated and all the challenges that one does face can be overcome. Please, if you are animals lovers and your pets are part of your family as they should be, I would urge you factor the costs into your budget planning and  to really consider taking your pets with you if you are emigrating it is well worth it and I cannot wait until we are all in our new home together.


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About Di

Di believes that the most important and most fulfilling “job” she has is being a mom of two. She is an author and animal communicator. Her greatest passion is animals and their welfare. She enjoys writing about animals and topics to help others with their spiritual growth.

Posted on June 17, 2013, in Animal Welfare, Doggy Style, For Cat Lovers, Guest Writer and tagged , , , , . Bookmark the permalink. 1 Comment.

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