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Flossy Takes Flight: Exporting Our Dog from Malaysia

May 11, 2016

As we near the end of our time in Malaysia it became necessary to ship our wonderful Golden Retriever back to the homeland.  The process of figuring out which routes were best and which company to use was arduous. Flossy is a ball of nerves when it comes to traveling.  A 45 minute car ride stresses her out, so the prospect of sending her across the globe was a source of much anxiety.  We wanted her to have a safe and comfortable journey, but needed to keep costs reasonable as well.

Flossy : )

Flossy : )

Thankfully, I can now happily say that Flossy is safe and sound in the U.S. keeping my mom company until we can once again be reunited.

Bearing in mind that this is my experience and the information I’m sharing is accurate to the best of my knowledge, here is what I learned along the way.

Pet Transport Companies

Kuala Lumpur International Airport (KLIA) does not allow pets on the premises.  So traveling with Flossy was not an option.  Also heat restrictions prohibit the shipment of pets out of KL from May 15-September 15, and made it necessary for us to ship Flossy a few weeks ahead of our summer travel dates.  Furthermore, certain paperwork can only be executed by a pet agent, so there is really no getting around hiring someone to assist you with the process.

I wanted to find a reliable, trustworthy, and reasonably priced pet agent.  I asked friends, Facebook groups, and our local vet for advice.  These were the three pet relocation experts that came up consistently:

  1. Pet’s Pet Taxi
  2. Armstrong Pet Moving
  3. Dr. C. Sockalingam , Yarl Livestock Services {email: drsocka@yahoo.com | mobile: +601-237-15566}

I emailed each and found all to be responsive. I asked for a price quote as well as some general questions concerning which route would be best for Flossy.  When researching online, I found that routes through Amsterdam and Doha were recommended.  Dr. Sockalingam was the only one to answer my questions thoroughly, and his price quote was several thousand ringgit cheaper than the others as well.  Dr. Sockalingam explained that flying Flossy through Doha would be a great option as the cost of her ticket would stay low, while the quality of her care would remain high.

Of course I researched this online and called the cargo department of Qatar Airways in Doha directly to make sure that she would in fact be in caring hands for the duration of her trip.  The airline associate that I spoke with was friendly and professional.  She explained that Qatar Airways’ facilities in Doha include a temperature controlled holding area where food and water is provided hourly (up to two hours before their flight), as well as a vet on hand who checks on each animal, and they clean the animal’s crate before the flight.  All of this was very reassuring to hear.

The journey ahead seemed daunting.

The journey ahead seemed daunting.

 

Flight Preparation

Dr. Sockalingam came to our place a couple of weeks prior to her scheduled departure date to give Flossy a check-up and make sure her paperwork was in order.  Flossy instantly took to him.  I think she would have left with him if I would have let her!  Since Flossy was already microchipped and all of her vaccinations were up to date she was good to go!

Travel Tips

I attached two water dispensers to her crate along with a bowl for holding her food.  Since her journey to Washington, D.C. was going to be a long one, I duct taped four individually zip locked portions of food (with treats inside buried in the mix) to the top of her crate.

I also decorated the front of her crate with her name.  I wanted her handlers to know her name in hopes that it might comfort her along the way.  According to my mom, when Flossy arrived in Dulles everyone around her was calling her by name and she was wagging her tail right and left!

Flossy's travel crate.

Flossy’s travel crate.

I took two Polaroid pics of her and inserted them in Ziploc bags and taped them to the front of her crate. In the unlikely event that she escaped from her crate (you read some harrowing stories online!) people would know her name/what she looked like.

Finally, I placed a towel in Flossy’s crate to remind her of home and hopefully increase her sense of well-being.

Qatar Airways Cargo Tracking allows you to track your air cargo online.  I followed Flossy’s itinerary and saw she was on schedule for each of her flights.

Air Cargo tracking provides peace of mind.

Air Cargo tracking provides peace of mind.

 

It was a nerve-racking couple of days as I sat waiting to hear that Flossy had indeed arrived safely.  Flossy arrived in Dulles happy and surprisingly clean.  As it turns out she wasn’t nearly as stressed out as I was!  Thanks to Dr. Sockalingam her trip was a complete success.

Flossy is now enjoying her temporary new digs in the U.S.A. Thanks Mom!

Flossy is now enjoying her temporary new digs in the U.S.A. Thanks Mom!

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15 Comments leave one →
  1. Lucy Bowen permalink
    May 11, 2016 12:13 pm

    So glad she made it safely. Awesome story. :)

  2. Caroline permalink
    May 11, 2016 5:51 pm

    Very happy to hear she made it to the States safe & sound. Thanks for sharing your experience. I’m currently planning on flying my dog from KL to Scotland and just the idea of my Waffle in a crate on a 16 hour journey terrifies me. Very grateful for the tips you mentioned. I had no idea that KLIA did not admit pets as I considered flying him to Amsterdam as check-in luggage then switching to cargo to the UK. Also, you mentioned that pets cannot fly out of KL May – September. Is that a Malaysian restriction? Or is that an American one? Are pets allowed to have their water dispensers attached during the flight? I was under the impression that animals were not allowed even water upon boarding.

    • May 12, 2016 12:27 am

      Hi Caroline! The travel agent who issued our family’s tickets told us about the heat restrictions. I’m not sure if it’s an airport or airline specific rule. Thankfully, pets are allowed to fly with water dispensers attached to their crates. I chose square ones as they are less obstructive and zip tied them to Flossy’s crate. Best of luck to you & hope this helps!
      ~Melany

  3. Cheekin permalink
    May 12, 2016 11:59 am

    👍Great story!

  4. Pamela Stacy permalink
    May 15, 2016 11:56 pm

    Just a little insight on “receiving” pretty Miss Flossy..we received a call from a Qatar representative to confirm that we would be there to receive Flossy. They were very helpful in providing instructions on what needed to be presented as well as directions to their office. We were advised to drive directly to Qatar cargo facility not to Dulles airport.
    The day of her arrival we reported in to Qatar cargo, provided copies of Flossy medical history and were instructed to have a seat as they were in the process of unloading the aircraft. We had waited approximately 45 minutes when a gentleman asked that my husband accompany him to the airport (a 5 or 10 minute ride). At the airport he directed my husband to the customs desk. The customs clearance process took about a minute and they were on their way back over to the Qatar office. Papers were reviewed and we were called back to the receiving dock to greet our four legged visitor. The Qatar personnel were kind and professional as they assisted us in providing attention, water and help in loading her into our car. We did have to pay a $50.00 Fee which they didn’t explain and we were too distracted to question. One final note, the vet also called us to insure that the Qatar representative had contacted us.

    • May 18, 2016 12:10 am

      Thanks for adding this additional information! : )
      ~Melany

  5. May 29, 2016 8:42 am

    Hi, thanks so much for all your valuable tips! Facing the problem to export my cats to Europe and there is no direct flight either. Can you tell me what Dr. Sockalingam price quote was? Regards Conny

    • May 29, 2016 12:24 pm

      Hi Conny,
      For our situation the price was 5000 rm, but it may be cheaper for cats as they weigh considerably less :) All the best & good luck!
      ~Melany

  6. Helen permalink
    April 12, 2017 8:48 am

    Thanks for all this information. I decided to contact Dr Sockalingham too as we are moving to the Netherlands in July. All I got back was an “OK” and after some more questions an “Too early. Can start the process 2 weeks before flight.” I would love to use him as it seems that he is the only one charging reasonable rates, yet I would like to have peace of mind before the trip by knowing what paperwork he will do for me, what I need to do and whether or not he will be the one booking my pooch on the flight.

    Moving continents entails finding schools, a house, packing up and saying goodbye. I understand a little better why other companies charge more to take one worry away from you. 😔

    • April 12, 2017 11:30 am

      Hi Helen!
      Glad you found the article helpful! Dr. Sockalingham’S communication skills are not the best BUT he genuinely cares about animals, has years and years of experience & his rates are the most reasonable. It is a nerve racking experience though! I wish you the best of luck!
      ~Melany

  7. Penny permalink
    September 12, 2017 10:14 am

    Is Dr Sockalingham easy to reach?

    • September 12, 2017 11:40 am

      Dr. Sokalingham was a bit difficult to reach. We usually would leave a message for him and he would return our call later. Hope this helps!

      • Penny permalink
        September 12, 2017 11:55 am

        Thanks Melany, did he provide you a full quotation prior to your process of relocation?

    • September 12, 2017 12:59 pm

      Hi Penny,
      He provided a rough estimate, which was very close to the final cost (and considerably less than the others we contacted). I’ve shipped Flossy accross the globe twice now, and while the logistics never get any easier, it’s always worth it. Best of luck!

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