How Do I Get a Rescue Dog Home from Overseas?

Jun 3, 2014
Outside Magazine

If you must rescue a dog while overseas instead of close to home, it's possible to get Fido home in less expensive ways.    Photo: Ian Waldie/Getty Images


Ah, the age-old dilemma of falling in love with a stray dog and deciding to take it home when you're vacationing in some exotic place. No, airlines don't offer dog rescue discounts, but there is a low-cost option for getting a dog home specifically from Puerto Rico—you're within American territory and can avoid extra red tape, embassy involvement, and quarantines.

Animal adoptions outside U.S. boundaries are another matter. You've probably heard about the plight of stray canines that were euthanized in Sochi, Russia, prior to the recent Winter Olympics. Getting some of those pups over to the United States was close to impossible, except for a handful of people who were physically at the games and had an easy pile of cash to spend.

Below is advice on how to cheaply transport a rescue dog from Puerto Rico or save a dog in Sochi or somewhere else around the world. It comes with one caveat: You should strongly consider rescuing a dog closer to where you live instead. About 3 million dogs and cats are euthanized annually in shelters across the United States. Adopting one from the local shelter or Humane Society is less expensive and easier on the environment than shipping one from halfway around the world, and it achieves the same goal of saving an animal.

Transporting a Rescue Dog from Puerto Rico

Flying a dog home with you on an airliner will cost between $200 and $2,000, so I can understand your reluctance to use this option. The alternative is Pilots 'n Paws, a nonprofit online gathering place that unites rescue organizations, airplane owners, pilots, and adoptive pet owners from across the United States. The system works something like this: You post a "request a transport" listing on the Pilots 'n Paws board that includes the dog's size and temperament and the sending and receiving locations. You then network with volunteer pilots who are willing to fly the dog all or part of the way (depending on the distance) to an airport near your home.

If you truly want to make a dent in the dog overpopulation problem in Puerto Rico, you'll get a better bang for your buck by donating to one of these two organizations: the Humane Society of Puerto Rico, which organizes spay and neuter efforts and adoption programs, and All Sato Rescue, an impressive organization dedicated to reducing the number of stray and abandoned dogs in Puerto Rico through adoptions, public education, and political efforts. 

Saving Dogs Internationally

The Humane Society International spearheads the Street Dog Welfare campaign around the world, from Haiti to China. Its efforts include vaccination programs to prevent rabies, spay and neuter surgeries, and reform battles to stop the illegal dog meat trade. Click here to sign the organization's petition to the International Olympic Committee to stop the mass killing of dogs in future host cities as part of pre-Olympic preparations.

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