How I Came to South Korea With My Human

***Disclaimer: Travel restrictions and guidelines for importing pets into any country are always subject to unexpected changes. If you are planning to travel from the United States of America to anywhere international with your pet, please please please take a look at the United States Department of Agriculture website well in advance of your trip!***

Even before the very first day she met me, my mom had some pretty big plans for the both of us. She planned to make me a world-travelling canine- 1st stop The Republic of Korea. Alright furry friends listen up. In order to get into the R.O.K from the USA, we all need to have what’s called an International Health Certificate and it needs to be endorsed by both a USDA accredited veterinarian (you know, one of those weird people who sticks a cold wet beeping thing up your behind?) and an officer from the USDA office itself. Make sure you go onto the USDA website linked above to get the health certificate that is specific to the country you are going to! Alright now grab a piece of paper, a human and borrow those opposable thumbs of theirs and have ’em write this down:

Microchip + Rabies vaccination + Rabies titer test = International Travel Certificate.

These three mandatory things must be done in this order to get your International Travel Certificate and be allowed into the country! Sorry pals but to travel and immigration departments around the world, your main identification is not “fluffy” its gotta and its gonna be your microchip number. This is why you need to have your microchip done either on any date before you get poked with the rabies vaccine or prodded for the titer (Eh, it really wasn’t so bad, it’s worth it.) or it can be given on the same day you get your vaccine- just make sure that your microchip gets implanted first and the vaccine given second ^_-.

So! My timeline went a bit like this. On June 23rd 2019, I came out into this big and exciting world. On August 23rd, my new mom came and took me home. On August 27th, I had my first “new puppy visit”. Now please remember pups of all ages- make sure your humans take you to see a veterinarian within one week of bringing you home whether you’re an adopted rescue dog or came from a breeder’s house. It’s always good to make sure you get yourself a thorough exam to confirm you are in tip-top tail waggin’ shape and ready to take on the world.

Anywho, at my first puppy visit, I only got my next puppy DHPP vaccine and a Bordetella vaccine. It was at my second visit, on September 23rd, where the preparations began. On September 23rd, I got a small, rice-sized microchip implanted right under my skin between my shoulder blades (eek that needle was huuuge!). Then, I received my first Rabies vaccine along with my next puppy Distemper/Parvo vaccine and first Leptospirosis vaccine. Humans! You should consider vaccinating your furry friends for Lepto! I found out it can be deadly and humans can get it from us too. (Note: Some clinics offer both 1 year and 3 year rabies vaccines. The first ever rabies vaccine for any dog regardless of age will always only be effective for one year. When your human takes you to the vet a year later to get your next rabies vaccine, they can then choose the 1 year or the 3 year – I’d try to get them to opt for the 3 year one!). On October 21st 2019, I received my next and last puppy Distemper/Parvo vaccine, my second and last (for the year) Lepto vaccine. I also received my first Lyme vaccine and humans, if you and your furry friend live in a notoriously tick ridden area, such as New Jersey USA, please consider vaccinating your pet for Lyme disease. Oh and on this day too I heard them talking about something really weird…I think it was spaying?

November 14th 2019- my last puppy visit! At this appointment, I received my second and last Lyme vaccine (for the year) and my first Canine Influenza Vaccine. They also drew some pre-op blood work for the spaying thing. And that spaying thing happened on December 5th 2019. Boy what a day that was…just awful. First, my mom starved me- she didn’t give me breakfast! Then she took me to work with her (did I mention she worked at the animal hospital?) and, long story short, I fell asleep and woke up with an itchy tummy seeing unicorns and rainbows with leprechauns and pots’ o gold… It. Was. Bizarre. I still don’t really know what happened that day but my mommy said it was the best option for me and that I can be healthier later on this way so I’ll forgive her. Anything to keep me and healthy and on takin’ on the world one chew toy at a time sounds good to me! Check out benefits of spaying and this other thing for the fellas called neutering(?) here! Oh I also got my second and last (for the year) Canine Influenza vaccine so now I am fully loaded for immunity!

The most important thing that happened on that weird December day was my Rabies Titer. The people at my mom’s work pulled out some of my blood, fill out this order form called the FAVN Report Form for the Rabies Antibody Titer for Export Animals. The Rabies titer tests my immunity level against rabies! This is why you wanna wait at least a month or two after getting vaccinated to get your titer done. Of course, double check with your vet to see what timeline they suggest regarding vaccination and titer-ing! Also! Humans, please keep in mind that (for the USA) the rabies titer test for travel needs to be shipped out to a special laboratory! So, results can take as long as 3 to 4 weeks to come back in the mail!

Okay! So by mid-January I have had my microchip implanted and my rabies vaccine and rabies titer done. Last piece of paper left was my International Health Certificate! After the International Health Certificate is endorsed (for Korea at least), it is valid for 30 days (meaning you can use it to enter Korea for up to 30 days from the day it gets endorsed by someone at the USDA office). However! Humans, please keep in mind that most if not all airlines require a veterinarian signed letter or form stating that they have checked your canine companion over and they are suited to fly. This is typically mandatory for both cabin riding canines and cargo hold riding canines. It also applies to both domestic and international flights. The documentation and exam must also be completed no sooner than 10 days before your flight. So! This doctors appointment kinda kept getting delayed as that COVID-19 thing kept getting in the way. But finally things started to work out a bit for my mom and I as we soon found ourselves back at her old job for my travel health certificate appointment. There, the doctor looked me over inside the hospital while my mom stayed in the car while wearing one of those weird paper-like things the humans have been wearing lately (seriously, what are those things?!). I checked out as a perfect 10-no surprise-and from there we went to the place where there was so much paper and tape rolls I fought to resist the temptation to grab ’em (I’m kinda obsessed with paper products). We walked up to the counter where there was a woman employee whom I hoped had a milkbone or something- nope she had nothin’. My mom then handed over a paper with my microchip number on it along with my rabies vaccine certificate, my rabies titer test results, and the International Health Certificate she had just gotten from the vet. My mom told the woman that all that stuff had to be mailed to the US Department of Agriculture office in nearby Albany, New York ASAP. And that was that. A few days later my mom came back from the mail box all excited saying that my ticket to Korea had arrived!

So, in a nutshell, that’s what my human and I had to do. On May 18th, I left the US of A with Emma and have been oddly stuck inside this room with her for the past 14 days. Ooh but she says we are gonna try to explore some cool place tomorrow. FINALLY! I have so much energy bottled up in this 10 pound Yorkie body right now I don’t think I can hold it in much longer! I wonder where we’re going? I hope mom doesn’t get us lost…she always gets lost. Stayed tuned to see where we go! Also, if you haven’t already, head on over to my mom’s side of the site to read about our trip arriving here, South Korea’s covid-19 protocol, and our quarantine days.

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