If you fall in love with an animal while on vacation abroad and want to save it and take it with you, you are faced with a bureaucratic show of strength – it gets particularly complicated if there is still rabies in the country of origin. Your animal world tells you what to look out for.
Viktoria Rohde didn’t really want a dog. In March 2017, everything changed with a desperate phone call from her boyfriend’s aunt. The woman was standing at the airport in São Paulo (Brazil) and could not take her puppy Mel with her to the USA because the necessary papers were missing for the trip.
So it happened that Mel ended up with Viktoria and her current husband, who were then living in Brazil. “At that time we didn’t have any specific plans to return to Germany. Bruno’s aunt made it clear to me that entry would not be easy, ”says Rohde.
About a year later it was clear that the couple would move to Berlin – with Mel, of course. “I did a lot of research back then. Unfortunately, my vet in São Paulo had no idea, ”recalls the now 31-year-old.
First of all, it was necessary to insert a microchip and get a new rabies vaccination . “If it had been up to the doctor, we would have done the vaccination before the microchip. But that would have been nonsense. There is a certain order. ”
Before traveling abroad: three-month waiting period for dogs after rabies vaccination
This is the only way to ensure that the rabies vaccination can be clearly and unmistakably assigned to the animal, as stated on the website of the responsible Federal Ministry of Food and Agriculture (BMEL).
In the case of dogs and cats from third countries in which rabies still occurs, such as Morocco, Sri Lanka or Brazil, the rabies antibody titer must also be determined via a test one month after the vaccination. Only if this is positive does the respective pet have enough antibodies in the blood .
As soon as there is a positive result, a three-month waiting period begins, after which the animal is allowed to leave the country. “The incubation period for rabies can last up to three months,” explains BMEL spokeswoman Silke Brandt. Therefore an infection cannot be ruled out even if the antibody test is positive.
Papers and vaccinations cost more than 250 euros
Shortly before leaving the country in April 2019, Viktoria Rohde had to present her dog again to an official veterinarian, who issued a multilingual document. The cost of everything, including the vaccination and test, was more than 250 euros.
“The airline in Brazil didn’t want to see any papers when we left,” she says. In Germany, she then approached the customs officers at the airport. Nobody would have been interested in the dog on their own. “In theory, we could have just marched through and saved the money and all the stress.”
But if you are caught at customs with no or insufficient papers, you risk a lot of trouble and even higher costs. The animal is usually sent back to the home country . If that is not possible, the alternative is called quarantine. That can cost up to 4,000 euros, as the veterinary border control post (GKS) at Munich Airport reports.
Germany is rabies-free
There are good reasons for the strict regulations: In September 2008, Germany declared itself rabies-free after the last case of a fox in 2006. “This status must not be jeopardized by importing rabies-infected animals into Germany,” explains BMEL spokeswoman Brandt.
Today Viktoria is happy that she took the trouble and brought Mel safely to Germany. “We have the impression that she likes it much better here. It’s not as hot as in São Paulo, there are beautiful parks and forests, and it is much more open. “
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