Requirements to take pets abroad

If you're taking a pet abroad, don't wait: If you're taking a pet abroad, don't wait: The process can take time. Photo Credit: AP / Chris O'Meara

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Marc Morrone Newsday columnist Marc Morrone

Marc Morrone was born in 1960 in the Bronx and, when he was 2, his family moved to

Q: We are moving to Japan for three years as my husband has gotten a transfer to a company in Tokyo. We have two dogs and an African grey parrot. All three animals are members of our family, and we want to take them with us. We need information on what to do to bring them along. --Annie Washington, Uniondale

A: I have sent people's pets to 37 countries, and it is only hard to do when you rush the situation or try to do it without knowing the facts. You can't cut corners on the time or documents requested. Island countries like Japan have very strict rules on animals entering from parts of the world where there are rabies, so you need to respect that and follow requirements to the letter.

First, have your vet go to the website of the U.S. Department of Agriculture (usda.gov) and download and print out the appropriate health certificates and requirements to allow a dog or bird to travel from the United States to Japan.

After the requirements are met, the completed documents your vet filled out are presented to the USDA office at JFK Airport to be endorsed. That's it for the dogs. But you are only halfway there for the bird. Since grey parrots live wild in certain parts of the world, you will need documentation, such as purchase invoices, that your bird was born and bred in the United States from parents that are of legal origin and in no way related to any current wild populations.

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The government endorsement of this fact is called a CITES export permit. To get this, you need to present the documentation to the CITES office in Washington for review. The permit is the guarantee of the U.S. government to Japan that your bird is in no way part of any wild population of grey parrots and is OK to travel from one country to the next as a personal pet.

This permit takes about two months to get. Learn more by calling the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Office at 703-358-2104. After you have all the documents in hand, the only step left is to get the CITES permit and parrot inspected by the local inspection office of the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service at JFK Airport.

Although this sounds like a lot of work, it can be accomplished if you allow enough time and answer all the questions asked by both regulatory agencies.

Q: For more than a year, we have been feeding a mother cat and her two male kittens, now grown. We have had them all spayed and neutered. The last cat, before being neutered, left for about six weeks and came home with a couple of ticks, looking worse for wear. He was neutered and his wounds were treated. He has no interest in leaving the house now, but his mother and brother want nothing to do with him. His brother hisses at him and his mother runs away from him. Any reason you can think of why this behavior is happening and how we can encourage them to get along?  --Joan Macchione, Farmingdale

A: To me, it sounds as if they are getting along: All three cats are living together under the same roof, and there is no bloodshed, only a few hisses and some avoidance. To some cat keepers, such a situation would be pure bliss. The cats do not have to like each other, they just need to live in the same house with no major drama. To ensure the harmony, such as it is, continues in your home, the best thing to do is to be sure you do not force animals that do not like each other to be in each other's faces. Be sure to have ample litter boxes and feeding stations so that if one cat is eating or using the litter box, the others do not need to be in a confrontational situation. Most animals that have been spayed or neutered will usually do their best to avoid confrontation. It is your responsibility to arrange their living areas to give them the most options.

Q: We have five indoor-outdoor, cats. All are neutered and get along very well. Three are females, two are males. One of our male cats is on a low dose of Prozac prescribed by our vet to keep him from periodically spraying in our house. He's a very loving, well-behaved male who's really a big mush. We also care for an "adopted" colony of 10 cats on our property. These 10 also are all neutered and have become like our pets but are fed and sleep in our garage. Of course, they freely move around outside. There's harmony with this arrangement, but Peppino, the aforementioned male, still occasionally sprays indoors. Is it possible that Peppino, a rescue like all the others, who's been our pet for six plus years, wasn't completely neutered? --Richard Braunstein, Smithtown

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A: Neutering a cat is very straightforward and it is highly unlikely that the vet did not remove both testicles. If the cat was neutered at an age where he had testosterone in his system, then most likely he did spray to mark his territory enough times before the neutering removed the testosterone so it became a learned behavior.

Since the Prozac is not totally working for Peppino, you have to carefully observe the behavior of all the cats, try to learn what the trigger is and remove it. It may be something as simple as all the garage cats gathering by the door to be fed or the indoor cats all gathered around the litter box at one time.

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