Bringing Your Pet to Israel

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You have a pet. You love your pet. You drown in its dark eyes and kvell at the gleam of its fur (or scales). And now you're coming to Israel and can't bear the thought of leaving Spot or Fang behind.

Let us begin with the fact that pets can only be transported into Israel through specific ports. First and foremost is the Ben-Gurion International Airport. You can also bring him or her or it through Haifa Port, Ashdod Port and Eilat Port. That, dear animal lover, is it. No bringing your pet chameleon through the crossing points between Israel and its neighbors, for instance.

Moreover, in the case of dogs, you can't bring in ones on the "dangerous" list. This list includes American Staffordshire terriers, fondly known as "Amstaffs"; Staffordshire bull terriers, fondly known as "English staffs" (or amusingly, "English Amstaffs"); Rottweilers; bull terriers; Argentine dogos (which look rather like leggy Amstaffs); the Japanese dog known as tosa; pitbulls and finally, last but never least, the Brazilian dog known as fila.

There is absolutely no point in trying to pull a fast one and tell the Customs official that your dogo is really a poodle having a bad hair day. If it's banned, it's banned.

Like you, your pet needs a passport. This consists of certification from the state veterinarian service of its country of origin, and it has to be fresh – dated within ten days of the trip. The certificate must attest that the dear one has had rabies shots at least 30 days before travel, and that it underwent a blood test 30 days after the rabies shot by an accredited vet. The blood test has to be tested by a lab certified by the OEI, and must show that the level of rabies antibodies is at least 0.5 IU/milliliter.

The vet's certificate must also attest that the pet shows no signs of infectious disease.

To make the beloved's arrival as smooth as possible, you will want to fax the paperwork to the relevant port of arrival two days before the pet is to land.

Cats and dogs must be beyond dewy-eyed infancy: Under Israeli law they have to be at least four months of age. You also have to bring a signed declaration that you have owned the pet for at least 90 days before its arrival to Israel.

They also have to be chipped, with a subcutaneous identity tag transmitting at 134.2 kilohertz, which can be scanned by a chip scanner that meets ISO standards.

How do you know if the chip implanted in Pet meets these standards? Ask your vet before you fly.

If you meet all these standards, your pet should be spared any stay in quarantine. If not, the pet could be quarantined or even returned to its point of origin or, in extreme cases, destroyed, as the chief vet at the port of arrival decides. You get to pay the cost of hosting in quarantine.

Want another tip? If you're making connecting flights and Poochie flew in the cargo compartment instead of coach, make sure he was transferred to the next flight too.

You should also check with the airline you're flying to see if it has stipulations of its own; many will let small pets – typically up to 7 kilos in weight – fly with you in coach, caged of course. The pet, not you. A cardboard box won't cut it – there are special cages for flying pets. Lastly, if all this bureaucracy unnerves you, there are companies that specialize in flying pets around the world.

Pets are welcome in Israel, just be sure to have all their paperwork in order.Credit: Reuters
If it can't eat on its own and is less than four months old, it can't come.Credit: Reuters

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