One expat pet’s long journey ‘home’

We asked expat partner Eileen Quay to explain the complicated procedures for repatriating a pet from Laos to Singapore.

Man’s best friend

“We adopted Marley from a local rescue centre in Vientiane. She’s a real character and she’s been good company for us, especially when we’ve been in a lockdown situation,” says Eileen, a Singaporean mother of two, who has just returned home after four and half years in Southeast Asia.

The journey begins…

“When we adopted her, I wasn’t too worried about the process of getting her back to Singapore. I knew she would have to go into quarantine, of course. But it’s definitely much more complicated than I imagined. It’s also going to take a lot longer that we thought,” adds Eileen.

Global operation

Firstly, as Laos is considered a high-risk country for rabies, Marley had to get the all-clear. Only one problem: “You can’t do a test for that in Vientiane! Our vet had to send the blood sample by DHL to Italy. But the biggest delay is down to the limited number of quarantine slots for pets in Singapore. We left in mid-August but there’s no slot available until December. So Marley will stay at a pet hotel in Vientiane for at least five months. Apparently she will be the second longest running guest that the hotel ever had!”

First, a detour…

When it’s finally time for Marley to fly to Singapore, there’s another snag. “There’s no flight from Vientiane that takes pets. So, she’ll travel by van across the Laos–Thai border to Bangkok, which takes eight hours. She will then stay one night at a pet hotel and have to be checked by a vet to get more documentation before flying to Changi International,” says Eileen. “We’re using a relocation service for this but it’s still been a logistical challenge and you have to be involved. Needless to say, the costs keep mounting. We will have spent thousands of dollars by the time Marley is in Singapore.”

Adopt pets responsibly!

“I should say first that when sharing these experiences, I wouldn’t want to put anyone off adopting a pet while they are expats in another country. But I do think it’s worth highlighting as people should be aware of the challenges and costs of repatriating or relocating a pet before adopting one. When you become a pet owner, I think you take on that responsibility.”

Photo: Marley in the family car

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