PCSing with a pet CONUS or OCONUS can be extremely stressful. When I was growing up my family moved from country to country every 4 years, due to my father’s job, and so did our pets. It was costly and tiring, but in the end a pet is your family and wouldn’t you do anything for your family.
Below, I have compiled a list of frequently asked questions for those who will PCSing CONUS (OCONUS section will follow shortly). All the answers are given by military spouses who have moved once or several times. Their answers are from personal experience, so please keep that in mind. These answers are simply to help guide you and to make your move with your pets as simple and stress free as possible.
What is the first thing a pet-owner should do if they have orders within the US?
Photographer Holly Robertson suggests, “You need to take your pet(s) to their vet and have them checked out. Up to date on all shots, get them tested for parasites, hook and heart worms. Remember the same thing that you’d do with your medication, do for your pet- get a three month or longer supply of prescribed medication or at the very least an open prescription and don’t forget flee/ear mite drops. If you have more than one pet try getting pet insurance from the ASPCA. Actually I would recommend that to all pet owners… take a couple of good photos in good lighting. A face shot and a couple others of any markings. Be prepared for anything.”
Lauren Cecora says, “Figure out your route of travel and make sure if it is by interstate that there are plenty of places to stop to let your pet out and reserve hotels that allow pets. We didn’t find this out until after we moved but La Quinta doesn’t charge a pet fee. They don’t even ask how many pets you have… I would skip calling any bases along the way. Every base we have ever reached out to won’t talk to us about staying, especially with pets, unless we have orders specifically to that base. They also only let you contact them a week out, and for planning purposes I would use them as a last resort.”
How much money will they expect to put forth for a pet move?
HUN Executive Board Member, Amanda Cherry said, “A lot depends on if you are flying or driving. We drove…it can be from $25- $100 depending on the hotel.”
Lovingasoldier.com Blog Coordinator, Kristen Smith added, “This certainly depends on a number of factors. For household pets (like dogs and cats), we plan to have the additional cost of a pet deposit when we stay in a hotel or temporary lodging. Shipping pets separately from your own travel can be an additional expense running into hundreds of dollars.”
Is there a specific place where they should go to start getting all the paperwork ready for the pets move or will the local vet usually know what should be done?
Carolyn Riccardi recommended, “Every state is different. Some require registration of dogs, some don’t. You can go online to a state’s website usually to find out if it’s required and get the paperwork in order. Most times the Vet at your new location will have the info.”
Do different States vary on different types of vaccines they should get?
Riccardi said, “No, it is always the same. The only one required for registration is rabies.”
Robertson suggested, “If you are going to live on base I would recommend all of the major vaccines.”
Are there breed restrictions in certain States?
Instead of searching the Internet for hours wondering, LC suggested, “Most places list the restricted breeds, but when in doubt call and ask.”
Riccardi also added, “Please check before choosing a place to live. Also, most apartment complexes or base housing will have restrictions as well. Make SURE you check so you aren’t stuck making a choice between your dog and your house.”
If you are driving to your duty station, do you find it harder or easier traveling with your pet than flying? Which would you recommend?
Smith recommended, “For us, driving is a much better option. Our dogs tolerate it much better, and are less stressed.”
Do any States require you to register your pet(s)?
Depending on which States you are going to you are have very different requirements. As well, those states that do require you to register have made it as easy as registering online. Check with the local county website or ask the vet.
I would like to thank Amanda Cherry, Carolyn Riccardi, Lauren Cecora, Kristen Smith and Holly Robertson for helping me put this section of traveling with pets CONUS together.