SIA investigating dog's death at Changi Airport: 5 steps to note when taking pets abroad

Before deciding to travel with your pet, you should consider the animal's age, medical conditions and the potential stress on the animal.
Before deciding to travel with your pet, you should consider the animal's age, medical conditions and the potential stress on the animal.PHOTO: REUTERS

SINGAPORE - A woman's pet dog died while being transferred to an Singapore Airlines aircraft at Changi Airport on Sept 2.

She claimed the airline was negligent in handling the American cocker spaniel. SIA said it was conducting an investigation and could not share further details, and expressed its "sincere condolences to the owners".

Here are five steps to note when taking pets abroad, according to the Agri-Food & Veterinary Authority (AVA).

1. Check the pet import requirements of your country of destination

The first step pet owners should take is to find out what the import requirements are for the country they are heading to.

Different countries have varying requirements, and some may require more steps, medical certification and a quarantine period.

Australia, for example, is known for its strict pet import rules, which landed even actor Johnny Depp in trouble for smuggling dogs into the country in 2015.

Australia's government has a "cat and dog calculator" on its agriculture.gov.au website to help owners figure out what steps are needed to take their animals over.

To take a cat from Singapore to Australia, for example, an Australian Import Permit is required, on top of pet lodging and various proof of vet visits.

Most other countries have guidelines on their websites on what is needed to take pets there.

2. Apply for an AVA Export Licence

Apply online for an AVA Export Licence for your pet here. The licence costs $50 for normal service and will be issued within two working days after all the documents are submitted.

It will cost twice that for express service, and pet owners can get the licence within one working day of submitting complete documents.

Note, however, that the AVA Export Licence will be valid for only 30 days from the date it is issued, so make sure it coincides with the date of your leaving Singapore.

3. Obtain a Veterinary Health Certificate

If the country you are going to requires a Veterinary Health Certificate, then you must get one by taking your pet to any AVA-licensed veterinarian for examination and request for a certificate.

The type of certificate needed, the certification statements required on the certificate and how long it must be valid for depends on the requirements of the country you are heading to.

The country may also need the certificate to be issued or endorsed by an official government veterinarian.

To get AVA's endorsement for the certificate, pet owners can apply online via the LicenceOne (AVA e-Licensing) website and pick it up in person, or apply for it in person.

4. Make an appointment for pre-export inspection

If you are going to a country that requires pre-export inspection, make an appointment online to get your pet inspected here.

This must be done at least five days before departure.

If you do not submit an online booking request for the appointment, you will have to pay an added inspection fee.

The inspection should be made at least four hours before departure time, so there will be enough time for your pet to be transported to the cargo terminal.

Inspection must be done during operating hours at the Changi Animal and Plant Quarantine Station.

5. Make arrangements with Ground Handling Agents

Finally, contact the airline you are flying with to find out about pre-export arrangements with the Ground Handling Agent before your pet flies.

There are two such agents: Sats Gateway and DNATA Singapore.

Before passing your pet to the agent on the day of departure, make sure you have with your pet a copy of your AVA Export Licence, the original Veterinary Health Certificate that meets the requirements of the country of destination and any other additional supporting documents required by the country you are heading to.

Also note that the pet must meet Singapore's import requirements for when you return from overseas.

Before deciding to travel with your pet, you should consider the animal's age, medical conditions and the potential stress on the animal, said AVA.

If you are deterred by the many steps required and you are not relocating or moving for an extended period of time, you can consider the following options:

  • Have a friend or family member care for your pet in your absence.
  • Engage a petsitter.
  • Leave your pet at a pet boarding facility.

Source: Agri-Food & Veterinary Authority