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Thread: Shipping American Staffordsire Terrier mix from Texas to Belgium

  1. #1
    Junior Member
    Join Date
    Nov 2017

    Shipping American Staffordsire Terrier mix from Texas to Belgium

    I wanted to share our experience shipping our AmStaff from San Antonio, TX to Mons, Belgium. My husband is a Department of the Army civilian who transferred to SHAPE. We have three large dogs, the AmStaff being the smallest, then a Bernese Mountain Dog and a Great Pyrenees. Due to their size they have to fly as cargo. My husband transferred to Belgium in September and I will follow with-in the next year. But we decided to send the AmStaff, Max, over first to keep my husband company.

    We spent about a year and a half researching shipping the dogs in case my husband received the assignment.
    1. Find an airline that will ship your specific breed. Delta would not fly an AmStaff mix (restricted breed), but United would in a reinforced crate.
    2. Purchase a crate. I kept sending pictures to United Cargo to ensure the crate was acceptable. They were extremely responsive and helpful. I purchased the reinforced crate made from wood from CR8-2Fly for about ~$870. It was the XLarge size. For our Berner, Forest, I will need to purchase a custom crate which I am still checking with airlines to ensure they'll accept. The Great Pyrenees, Cotton, she will need to go in an off-the shelf Giant size crate
    3. Acclimate dog to crate. Every day I would have Max go in the crate building up the hours. He actually liked the crate and would just curl up and lay down. And this is exactly what he did when we dropped him off.
    4. Schedule flight. Max was going unaccompanied so I wanted him to go on a direct flight. Nothing goes to Europe directly from San Antonio so it meant flying him out of Houston. Also, because of crate size, he would need to fly out of Houston. We decided to fly him from IAH (Houston) to AMS (Amsterdam). So I drove three hours on front end to drop him off and my husband drove three hours on his end to pick Max up. We booked the flight with United Cargo about a week out. It was pretty simple as I initial did it online and then confirmed with a follow-up phone call. I also called the day before the flight and made sure Max was on the manifest.
    5. Health certificate. Max already had the 14 digit microchip and rabies certificate, etc so it was just a matter of getting a USDA certified health certificate. Since we are retired military, we took him to vet on post that was able to sign-off on certificate. Cost was $90 to include the Advantix they applied although he takes flea and tick medicine orally once a month. I understand that if he went to his normal vet, the paperwork would have to go up to Austin for sign-off but I cannot vouch for that. BECAUSE HE FLEW UNACCOMPANIED, HIS HEALTH CERTIFICATE HAD TO BE DATED 48 HOURS PRIOR TO FLIGHT. Cotton and Forest will be flying with me, so their health certificates can be done as early as 10 days before they fly.
    6. Flight. We did a drive by the United Cargo area early to make sure that we were in the right place and spoke with the cargo reps to make sure we had everything for Max to fly. We returned to process Max three hours prior to the flight. The whole process took maybe 40 minutes and was very simple. $1790 to ship Max as his weight with crate was 183 lbs.The reps were so nice. They put ice in Max's water bowl and taped a Ziploc bag of 16 oz of food to the top of the crate. He flew with a yellow lab. We tracked the flight the whole way both on a flight tracker and at United Cargo website. We saw Max land and confirmed delivery at AMS.

    That's when things went downhill and of course, it was my husband having to deal with it and with me going frantic. My husband could not find the dog. From everything we had researched, it was our understanding that all incoming dogs went to the Animal Hotel where they would be checked by a vet, walked, fed, etc. That is for dogs coming in on KLM/Delta. United does not have a cargo facility at AMS. So my husband called me (it's 1am in Texas) to say he cannot find the dog and he kept getting directed all over AMS. I called United Cargo and they finally track Max down and tell me that he is at WFS. I call back my husband and he had found out the same thing. It is now about an hour and a half after Max has landed. So my husband goes to WFS which is a warehouse, the gate guard is asleep/hungover but finally awakes to say that the dog had not arrived yet; come back in two hours. My husband returned and dog is there and while they would not let the owner of the dog who flew with Max back to see her dog, the guy did let my husband back to see Max. Another two hours later, my husband finally was able to take Max and the crate. Meanwhile, in those four hours, Max had not been watered, fed or walked. The customs lady did go in the crate to check his microchip. But Max had not been out. He had pooped and peed in the crate and there was no where to clean him up so my husband took him in the car for the three hour drive to Mons as is. Oh, and it cost 80 euros to get him out of hoc. Max was also understandably timid and made no noise. He had a sliver of wood stuck in his tooth. My husband got some of that out and the rest Max managed on his own.

    Now he is home in Belgium. He has a nice yard to run around in and my husband cleaned him all up. After four days is starting to find his voice again, doesn't seem jet lagged and is becoming himself again.

    Forest and Cotton will be flying with me and we are going into Brussels so it won't be such a long ride after a long flight. Cotton I'm not so worried about. She's a rescue so has been through tough things before. Forest is a baby though and I am concerned about him. I have flown dogs before and I know it takes a little bit of a toll on them, but they have all weathered it. But i also can't see them not being with us for three years.

    Anyhow, hope this is helpful. It certainly is an experience (and an expensive one at that). But our dogs have replaced our five grown children and they are as much family.
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  2. #2
    Join Date
    Apr 2010
    Fort Lauderdale, FL

    Re: Shipping American Staffordsire Terrier mix from Texas to Belgium

    Wow, Sam. Quite a story! Thank you for sharing!


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