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Old 16-09-2015, 13:44   #1
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Extensive Cruising With a Dog, Foreign Regulations?

My long time sailing pal, Luke, a Golden Retriever/ border collie mix died 3 years ago and we couldn't bring ourselves to bring another rescue dog into the family at that time. Luke was the best pooch I've ever had and a fine sailing dog, surefooted, agile, smart and with a sense of humor. We miss him terribly.
Lately our two boys have been really bugging us about adding another canine member to the family and both my wife and I are definitely in favor of that, but, and there's always a but, we plan on stepping off in 2-1/2 years for a possible 3-5 year cruise, or more if we decide to lengthen our rambling. We'll see how far we get.
Since, if all works out, we hope to circumnavigate but know many factors come into play there, so we'll head out and see how far we get, without making any far fetched claims.
My question is, what are the difficulties in traveling to foreign destinations with a dog? Quarantine regulations?
Do some countries outright ban foreign animals from entering?
Does it become extremely complicated or is a matter of filling out more paperwork and making sure to have all the proper documentation for immunizations?
Any input from others with direct experience is appreciated.

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Old 16-09-2015, 15:33   #2
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Re: Extensive Cruising With a Dog, Foreign Regulations?

Two quick generalized comments: 1.) most dogs do not acclimate well to offshore sailing conditions and 2.) once outside the US (with the exception of Canada, Europe, NZ and Oz), many cultures are indifferent or cruel to them. Sorry if this is not your idea of a PC statement but I have witnessed it first hand in the Bahamas, Caribbean and Mexico. We sailed our first year in Florida and the Keys with my hunting dog-- a 9 year old Brittany Spaniel who never adjusted to the water and never was able to do "her duty" on the boat. Every evening, we would have to find an anchorage with a sandy spit along shore where she could be walked and this limited many good anchoring spots. And, every time we went ashore, we would bring her along since she suffered from anxiety if we left her alone. Unfortunately, she passed in the Fall of that year with brain cancer and was a great loss to us both. I cannot speak about foreign regulations concerning dogs, but I would never sail with a dog again nor would I advise others to do so. It is my personal opinion it is a selfish act and cruel to the animal. Good luck and good sailing.

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Old 16-09-2015, 15:52   #3
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Re: Extensive Cruising With a Dog, Foreign Regulations?

I believe that if you are going to cruise with a dog it is best to start them on the boat when they are puppies.

Regulations vary greatly. Noonsite might be of help.
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Old 16-09-2015, 23:37   #4
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Re: Extensive Cruising With a Dog, Foreign Regulations?

When you cast off, your kids are able to continue your rescue dog way of life, which is kind and good.

But, really, given the quarantine restrictions between the US and the antipodes (leaving out Hawaii for the moment), to me the stresses on the pooch of 6 mo. quarantine periods are really cruel. It is not that it cannot be done, but it truly cannot be done without cruelty to the dogs. And what if? What if, pooch overboard, you have to decide if it is safe for you to turn around and beat upwind to retrieve him/her?

Truly, I think if a circumnavigation is what you have in mind, do not bring your beloved friend dog. It will be extremely hard on him/her.

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Old 17-09-2015, 03:54   #5
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Re: Extensive Cruising With a Dog, Foreign Regulations?

There's a blog by friends of ours cruising just the Caribbean. Tropical diversion, you can ask them But they have said the costs of clearing in many places has been much more to double, because of their dogs. I have also read recently that many islands out out bait that will kill dogs pretty quickly. Pretty sad. Happens in the DR , Grenada I've heard of it I. The Bahamas but not recently.

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Old 17-09-2015, 04:28   #6
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Re: Extensive Cruising With a Dog, Foreign Regulations?

I've been cruising the US east coast for the last couple years with a laika hunting dog who will now be accompanying me to the bahamas and points south. He spent the first two years of his life on a farm before moving aboard and has acclimated to life aboard.

We are inseparable and I don't think it in the least bit cruel to have him along, but it certainly makes life difficult sometimes! Whenever possible he is given as many miles on land as possible, which also keeps me active. But frankly, if I was starting from scratch w/o a dog that I didn't already know and love then no way in hell!!
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Old 17-09-2015, 06:07   #7
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Re: Extensive Cruising With a Dog, Foreign Regulations?

I love my dog and don't know what this experience would have been without her, but my recommendation is against cruising with a pet, sorry to say, but here are the reasons.

We have been cruising the Caribbean the last 2 years and 2 years in the Bahamas before that, we have a female Chocolate Lab who is now 10 years old.

As for regulations, yes most of it is just paperwork, but it's the islands and nothing happens on time or as planned. Be prepared for delays, long walks, and endless waiting. Keep in mind, that for many islands, you must have paperwork from the previous island that you visited, meaning vet appts and fees before you clear out for your next destination. Lay weather windows on top of this and welcome to cruising with a dog. I does get easier with experience, but the learning curve is expensive and time consuming.

Many of the islands are not pet friendly. In many islands, dogs are not house pets and are treated more like livestock. Yes, they do poison dogs! Its not just rat poison, which you have to watch out for, but in the DR and Grenada they have wild dogs that attack the livestock and they are currently using poison as a solution. I have met two owners who have lost dogs and spent time with the vets at the Carriacou animal hospital, who have treated numerous cases. I have a great fear that some day a child will be lost to this ignorant practice. If you google it, you will find plenty of information and here is a link to a petition that you can sign to help end the practice.

Finally, cruising is extremely hard on dogs. The environment is not like home, lots of cuts on the pads, from running on coral and rocks. Foreign parasites, insects, spiders and ticks. And the heat, you want to take the dog with you everywhere you go, but walking on paved roads in towns where the heat is radiated is brutal. You have to be much more conscious of your dog at all times.

If you circumnavigate, you will have counties that require quarantines.

I hope this has not been too negative, it's just not the picture most cruisers think of when heading off. I hope it helps.

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Old 17-09-2015, 06:40   #8
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Re: Extensive Cruising With a Dog, Foreign Regulations?

Thanks for the replies, it's pretty much what I was thinking.
Although I've done offshore cruises with my last pooch pal, he was an exceptional sailing pooch who had been on boats since he was a pup and had no issues with it, he was very well acclimated and well suited to the life. Unfortunately, like people, you never know how they will fare until your there, so that may not be the case with another pooch.
I worked and lived in third world countries for extended periods in my previous career and understand where animals stand in the hierarchy of living things, which is quite different from what people in the US are used to. In countries where 85% of the population lives on the edge and live already challenging lives pets are not an affordable luxury for most.
My main concern was about the bureaucratic hurdles involved with trying to do that, and it was, unfortunately, what I expected.
Unfortunately I will have to be the bad guy in telling my sons we can't do it and I do feel guilty for denying them that experience since I've had dogs as long as I can remember, mom had a weakness for taking in and rehabbing strays, probably from her experience growing up in the depression era, her family took in people and pooches even though they had little themselves.
All the pooch pals I've had were strays or rescue dogs, all were great, with the mutts being the healthiest and most well balanced in personality.
Thanks for the honest replies.
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Old 17-09-2015, 07:53   #9
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Re: Extensive Cruising With a Dog, Foreign Regulations?

I have been quite saddened when I see dogs cruising on sailboats.
They need much water to be kept clean and mostly by dogs with atrophied limbs as dogs are seldom welcomed ashore.
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Old 17-09-2015, 08:11   #10
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Re: Extensive Cruising With a Dog, Foreign Regulations?

We see many people cruising with dogs, and the dogs all seem very happy.

For owners, it is a very mixed bag. Depends 100% on the place you are visiting. Some countries have an over-the-top fear of rabies, and require cruel amounts of quarantines. Others, its just a veterinarian's note and you are good to go.

It has gotten quite a bit better in the past few years, with RFID chips that prove that your dog is the one that was vaccinated, and with blood tests that prove that the vaccination worked. So the number of problematic countries is decreasing steadily.

My advice is DON'T lie to customs about having an animal on board. The consequences are heart breaking if they find out.

The advice to use as a reference is very sound. Plan ahead, ask other cruisers, and you can figure out where it is feasible to stop. But be sure that there will be at least a few places you just don't want to visit with a pet.
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Old 17-09-2015, 09:11   #11
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Re: Extensive Cruising With a Dog, Foreign Regulations?

I sail more as 30 years with dogs on board, always with a Welsh terrier , small dogs with a height of ca 40 cm. Currently I have 2 dogs a Welsh and a Fox terrier on board and now in Greece. I sail with my dogs in the Med, Red Sea and Indian Ocean, visiting countries like Egypt, Sudan, Yemen, Oman, India, Indonesia, Thailand and Malaysia and almost all countries in the Med. All my dogs have enjoy the life on board and we have crossed more as 50.000 NM without any problem.
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Old 17-09-2015, 09:22   #12
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Re: Extensive Cruising With a Dog, Foreign Regulations?

I sailed around the world with my Jack Russel terrier, he visited around 70 countries. I had zero problems except in Australia, where he had to be kept below, and NZ.
A few countries told me to keep him on the boat, but most would allow him ashore without a problem. Malta is the exception, do not take a dog into Malta.
Hawaii is not worth the stop as they will quarantine your dog.
England said he had to stay aboard for the short time I was there but was not too worried about him.

As for a dog not wanting to poo or pee aboard, they will after time. I had an old short length of line he liked to pee on, and I would keep it on the back deck and heave it over the side tied to another length of line every day. In rough weather I would put it on the cockpit sole. A bucket of seawater cleans everything up.

He loved going ashore and would jump in any dingy that came alongside, that was about the only problem.

He was a good shipmate, and a good watchmate, he was with me for 16 years.

A home without a dog is just a boat.

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Old 17-09-2015, 09:25   #13
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Re: Extensive Cruising With a Dog, Foreign Regulations?

I love dogs, but if was going cruising and didn't have one I definitely wouldn't get one until I came back. Some countries are a PITA with animals and you also have to figure out how to get the dog to shore twice a day etc. The other problem is what if you want to go on a day trip, or a two day trip on land? How would you do that? how to keep the dog cool in the boat? or if you leave the boat open, what if he falls overboard while you are gone? It will dominate your cruise for sure.
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Old 17-09-2015, 09:26   #14
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Re: Extensive Cruising With a Dog, Foreign Regulations?

Understand you are talking to dog lover in the extreme. It is hard to cruise with a dog, no doubt about it.
1) start with a puppy to acclimate to boat and doing his duty on a Spot(Matt)

2- You MUST have Rabies titer done at U of Kansas and it is impossible to meet the requirements til a puppy is at least one year old because to the time delays between shots!
3 As said some countries do not share our love of dogs and in Vietnam they eat puppies, really
4 St Lucia for example is off limits and if you trespass they WILL shot the dog on site
5) Hawaii just as bad re quarantine time and expense as it is rabies free

6) You also need a Federal USA permit from Federal Vet
7) All this stuff is on line
8_ You must have an ISO Chip implant (NOT all chips meet the requirement and the Vets aren't into it.
9) Wonder why I know all this crap ......

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My 13 yo Yellow Lab just died a couple of months ago and I would do it again in a minute!!!!!!!! And YES I do think that some dogs don't like to sail. And YES cats are much better boat animals but then They aren't Dogs!
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Old 17-09-2015, 09:29   #15
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Re: Extensive Cruising With a Dog, Foreign Regulations?

I'll weigh in on this discusson as a dog owner and federal veterinarian who has to help a lot of people move their pets to different countries around the world. Most of the island nations, including our own State of Hawaii, have very formal requirements with specific timelines for the entry of animals. A cruiser would be hard pressed to meet some of the more restrictive entry provisions for places like Japan and Australia. Our lab and golden live aboard with us and we travel locally while continuing to work. When we look at heading off in a few years we will plan on coastal trips and boarding the dogs when we have to make offshore passages. Our cruising itinerary will be dictated by where we can safely go with the dogs. Not for everyone, but we are a little more dog crazy than most.

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