|Now that I'm almost two... they are letting me get involved!|
At last... I have a legitimate reason for writing a (dog) blog:- one that's more about me and my own needs (and my species) rather than just 'the management' here and what THEY get up to - the uprights!... One of the team that I 'work' with (and I use the term loosely) suggested that we should put out some information about the ins and outs of ferrying (literally in my case) your pets backwards and forwards across the channel to France. It's only fair to tell you how it applies to me and our own travel habits... But I will also provide links (at the bottom of this page) to other places that may be of further help. I've been to and fro between Sussex and the Cotes d'Armor around 8 times in the last 15 months so I think I qualify... n'est-ce pas?
So here goes... Rudy Slade... A House in Brittany Near Loudeac, the Cotes d'Armor...
We almost always travel to France with Brittany Ferries. It's a longer sea trip across the western channel (from Portsmouth to St Malo) rather than the cheaper to travel, narrower straits further east, toward Newhaven and Dover etc., BUT the western channel makes for a shorter car journey on the other side for us...as our house is in Brittany - just 90 minutes drive from the port.
A ticket for a pet costs £40 for the round trip... (other carriers may vary). That's the same whether you have a kennel or leave your cat, dog, ferret, rabbit or gerbil in the car. I travel in the van with all the comforts of home... food, water, treats and toys and that's where I stay for the duration of the voyage. The kennels, by comparison, are open fronted (although under cover) but they have metal sides, are quite noisy and the sound echoes a bit and they don't offer much by way of creature comforts... When the weather is bad they can often be windy as they are open to the air and also sometimes are wet underfoot. So, for me, the van or car is definitely the best option. It's obviously up to the pet owner to choose.
Segregation of pet carrying vehicles. The Dockers who marshall the vehicles as they are driven on-board are supposed to make sure that vehicles carrying pets (you will be given a fluorescent sticker for the windscreen) should not be directly next to each other. We heard a story via our vet in France that two dogs parked in adjacent cars antagonised each other so much that they both, simultaneously tore the inside out of their owners' cars to shreds... upholstery, headlining... the lot! So, if you are placed next to another vehicle with a 'pet on board' sticker you may want to have a word before too many more vehicles arrive on the deck making moving to an alternative position impossible.
Dogs DON'T GO on the Passenger Decks or in the cabins. If dogs are ever allowed on the passenger decks it is likely that they will be Guide Dogs/Help Dogs or sometimes on certain vessels when the kennels are not on the same deck as the vehicles (eg: Pont Aven). Dogs are not allowed on the passenger decks WITHOUT a muzzle.
You CAN visit your pet during the voyage. The ferry company will put out a call over the tannoy on board on departure and ask all pet owners to visit to the Information desk to log-in and find out what time visits will be. It is normal that this will be once on a night crossing and twice during daytime crossings. We almost always cross at night so that my uprights don't (for me) add to the trauma of just being in unfamiliar surroundings - but, if it's night time, then I would normally be asleep anyway and so life goes on pretty much as normal. Conversely a daytime crossing, with me in the van, means I will be banged up all day on the boat and then... as soon as we get home they will go to bed and I'm expected to do the same... just when I'm raring to go. So night time trips suit me best. We are very lucky; our journey on the UK side is only 40 minutes and, as long as I am allowed to go for a wee as soon as we are out of the ferry port then I can relax until we get home. Note:- In St Malo there is a parking area adjacent to the exit road right by the beach where you can park either when getting off the boat OR before getting on... where dogs can have a stretch or a run on the beach. In fact it's OK for Camper Vans to park (free of charge) for the whole night before a morning boat. If that suits your uprights better.
So... you are travelling with your favourite pooch or moggie... but - before you do - your travelling pet must be chipped and have a passport with all details of to-ing and fro-ing recorded... That's probably the easy bit... You just go to your vet and get the chip 'injected' under the skin usually on the left side of the neck - just above the shoulder... No pain... No gain! The vet will issue a form to complete in order for the passport to be issued. There must also be a record on the passport of a Rabies Injection having been administered. Following the date of the jab there will have to be a wait of 21 days before you can travel. This could obviously cause a hindrance if you are in a hurry and you haven't taken the necessary steps but it's a whole lot better than having to put your special friend through quarantine for 6 months in a special designated kennels, maybe even a long way from home - which is the way things used to be ! Eek! Some Gerbils don't even live that long!!
At each embarkation point, whether coming or going... your owner will have to take a chip reader from the person manning the check-in cabin and wave it about over the area where the chip was inserted by your vet. This is not a big deal... although sometimes chips may move around a bit under the skin - and, when owners can't find the chip with the machine it sets them off into a bit of a panic but, to me, it's just a bit of fun... I'm laughing with them not AT them you understand... It cracks me up!
Coming Back to the UK from Europe... Your pet must attend a vet before the return journey between 24 hours and 120 hours prior to embarkation in order to have a Tape Worm tablet administered (perish the thought) and to have his/her passport stamped to declare that they are fit to travel. The cost of this is is between 35 and 45 Euros. I know, I know... it seems like a licence for them to print money. It takes a very short time and the cost of the medication is really minimal. But, most vets will give your pet the once over and may offer some advice on anything that looks like it could be trouble... My upright says it's a bit like 'advisories on an MOT' whatever that is! And the passport stamp is something you can't avoid so why not just chill out and make the most of the experience.
That's just about all I know about the ferry thing really... It may sound a bit long winded and somewhat complicated affair but, as you go through it step by step it's all very logical and straightforward. Obviously if you are traveling by air there are additional pro's and con's but I didn't have a lot to do with that when I first took up this traveling lark - even though I did fly from Athens to Brussels (it doesn't half make your arms ache! arf!!) before I took up with this mob... So you're on your own with that side of things... It's life on the ground and crossing the channel that I'm into these days! Cheers for now... Rudy x
btw... Here's a site we came across which offers some advice about pets traveling by air:-
If you're HERE and you don't have a house THERE... Look for one! - http://www.ahouseinbrittany.com/
|This was me on my first trip to Brittany... How young do I look here? Amazing!!|
Take it easy... and Bon Voyage!