Friday, April 25, 2014

TRAVELING WITH OUR CATS TO FRANCE - PHASE 1: PAPERWORK

We made it! Mimi and Chloe are with us in France. Here's how it played out.

If you've read my previous posts on the subject, you are aware that there are rules to be followed when bringing domestic animals into France. They must be micro chipped. They must have all the appropriate vaccinations. They must pass a health examination within ten days of entry into France. And the US Department of Agriculture (USDA) veterinarian for your state must sign off on their paperwork within ten days of entry into France. The timing is tight. The rules as published on the French consular website can be found here.

Again, as reported previously, we forewarned our new vet, Dr. Greg Leck, months in advance. (The vet who had cared for our Siamese step-sisters since their birth having retired, apparently just to avoid this craziness.) The girls were chipped. The paperwork downloaded, printed, and discussed. Meanwhile, in order to bring the girls with us in the cabin and in order to go through French customs rather than customs in Barcelona (so that the girls would arrive as French rather than Spanish cats), we chose Turkish Airlines - JFK to Istanbul to Marseilles.

We bought soft-sided carriers, left them out and open for the girls to explore, put their favorite toys in them, and took the girls for several short rides in the carriers in hopes that would acclimate them. The girls weren't happy about it, Mimi (the elder of the two by one year) being the more vocal. She would also occasionally mark the padding with a spot of piss - just enough to let us know that she was pissed. But all in all, they dealt with the carriers well.

As our day of departure approached, things began to get tricky. Our vet had trouble connecting with the USDA vet in Harrisburg, the Pennsylvania state capitol about 80 miles from our home in Bath. The USDA wasn't responding to voice mails or faxes. Finally, during our visit to our local vet exactly nine days before our anticipated entry into France, we asked Dr. Leck once again to try to contact the USDA. Lo and behold, contact was made. "Fax me the paperwork," said the USDA, "and I'll get back to you in five minutes."

Yeah. Right.

But that's exactly what happened. Surprise, surprise. A quick tweak, another fax, and according to the USDA we were good to go. Good to go, that is, to Harrisburg to have the paperwork signed and sealed.

Can it be done over the counter?

Yes.

What are your hours?

8 AM to 4 PM.

Great. I hopped on my Suzuki and took the 80 mile ride to Harrisburg from Bath, found the right building, took the elevator up one floor, found the right office, and walked right in. And there, at the counter, was a sign that read: By Appointment Only. Appointment Hours 9:00 - 11:00 AM, 1:00 - 3:00 PM.

Frack!

I rang the bell. I begged.

Maybe it could be done today. Maybe not. The vet is a busy man. He might not be able to fit you in.

I proposed to go to lunch for an hour, come back, and see where things stood.

I went to lunch for an hour and came back. I rang the bell. The vet appeared.

You're the one with the cats going to France?

That's me.

That'll be $38.

Done.

I'll post once more when we arrive at our house in Quarante.



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