If you spend any period of time in the Philippines you’ll notice the number of strays and the poor condition they’re in. If you’re like me, you’ll be inspired to bring one home. The Philippines does not make it easy to export a dog. Your home country has its own import requirements and I suggest you check with them before falling in love with your new furry family member. Once you’ve confirmed you can import a dog, the work begins. It is not easy but the life you save will be worth it.
These steps are specific to Bantayan but could easily be applied to any place in the Philippines.
1. Confirm with your airline that dogs are accepted or find an airline that does fly pets. You can start with www.pettravel.com to get general ideas but will want to confirm with your airline. At the time of writing Philippine Airlines had an embargo on bracychephalic dogs (short snout nosed dogs, like a pug) but then arbitrarily changed to a full embargo on shipping pets the day before I made my reservation, despite their website not being updated to reflect this change. Singapore airlines also informed me they do not transport dogs. Cathay Pacific informed me that they do ship dogs. This is probably your best bet for an airline out of Cebu.
2. Bring the dog for rabies vaccine and medical certificate from a vet on Bantayan Island (200 php as of April 2018)
There are two veterinarians on Bantayan Island but neither seem to be super engaged in providing care to street dogs but will give you the certificate.
3. Bring vaccine record and quarantine certificate to quarantine officer located at the ferry terminal near where you purchase your tickets to obtain your permit for local travel (called shipping permit). There is no cost for this. There is a 14 day waiting period after the dog has received the rabies vaccine before it can be eligible for this permit.
4. The ferry did not appear to have any specific transportation protocols – I just sat with the dog in my lap. They also did not ask to see the paperwork I had gone to so much trouble to get and did not charge me extra for the dog.
5. When you arrive in Cebu city, if you find a taxi or Uber willing to transport you and your dog, keep their phone number! Many will turn you down when they see your dog. There are several pet friendly hotels in Cebu city – www.booking.com has an option to click pet friendly. They will have an additional charge for pets in most cases.
6. Find a good vet in Cebu that can assist you in preparing for your export and import requirements. Cebu based rescues can likely recommend someone. Below is an email I received from PAL outlining the requirements but I suggest obtaining a list from your specific airline. Keep in mind you cannot get the export permit until 15 days after the rabies vaccine. *ensure you check requirements of any countries your dog may transit through on stopovers* You also want to confirm what kind of care they will receive if they have a stopover. Qatar airways and Cathay Pacific apparently have excellent stopover service for pets. PAL does not (maybe why they no longer transport pets).
The absolute best service I can recommend to assist you with veterinary care and the complicated export process is My Travel Companion Although I started doing the research on the airline requirements myself, they were able to do all the veterinary care, paperwork, everything. If you use this service you won’t have to worry about anything. They also care so much and continue to check in on how Mena is doing. These people have heart!
7. Book a reservation for your dog to fly either with you as excess baggage, or as cargo with an airline. You’ll need the dogs weight and crate measurements when you phone to book this reservation. Be mindful of connection times. My first attempt at booking left my dog with an overnight layover unaccompanied. I was able to switch to a more reasonable flight. Cost for shipping my dog was $800 US but it will vary based on airline, dog size, crate size, etc.
8. Go back to the pettravel.com website to review how to prepare your dog to fly safely and comfortably. Ensure you have a well labelled IATA approved crate. I found the crates to be cheaper at the Gaisano department store rather than the SM mall pet store but your veterinarian likely has a better suggestion of where to get a crate or may sell them. Again, My Travel Companion can do all of this for you. Mena arrived with a well prepared crate and I didn’t have to stress about any of this. Their costs are reasonable and they are the experts in ensuring the crate is prepared for travel.
*pet supplies are incredibly limited on the island but the Chinese store in Santa Fe does sell some leashes and collars and the grocery store does sell kibble* You may want to start leash and crate training ASAP as a beach dog can easily become overwhelmed in the city.
9. Give that dog all the love it deserves once it arrives home.
For more info on the stray dogs of Bantayan you can contact Island Sanctuary Santa Fe Bantayan