Every Dog Has Its Day – the Importance of Complying with Pet Importation and Quarantine Requirements

“Lucky dog gets a big ol’ bed, stray dog gets the porch. Every dog has its day dog, but today dog just ain’t yours.” So goes a country song by Toby Keith that probably holds a whole new meaning for two Yorkshire terriers. For Pistol and Boo, actor Johnny Depp’s dogs, a recent day in May wasn’t their day when the actor allegedly smuggled the pups into Australia without following that country’s quarantine laws.

An investigation is underway to determine whether prosecution of Depp and/or the pilot is appropriate. It’s possible Depp can simply pay a fine and move on but the fate of Pistol and Boo could have been much more severe. The Australian Agricultural Minister threatened to euthanize Pistol and Boo. Depp’s pilot might still face prosecution and jail time.

The pups escaped execution in Australia but their arduous journey wasn’t over even after being flown back to the U.S. The U.S. does not recognize Australia as a rabies-free country so their return to the U.S. was not met with Lady Liberty’s open arms. Instead the dogs were subject to “investigation” and “temporary confinement.”

There are a few lessons to be learned from this experience:

  1. Know the customs and immigration requirements of any country you’ll be flying to. Don’t just focus on human visa requirements and throwing out catering at the appropriate time. If you’re transporting pets, be sure to know what your destination country requires in order to bring animals into the country.
  2. Once you know the rules, FOLLOW THEM.
  3. Business aviation is no doubt a service-focused industry. Don’t let a concern about inconveniencing a passenger or owner prevent you from following the rules. This concept – compliance over service – should be your motto whether the issue is a short runway during a rainstorm, extra baggage that pushes the aircraft’s loading limits, or yes – even whether to sneak two tiny dogs into another country. In fact, non-compliance is actually a disservice to your passenger. I assume Depp wasn’t happy about the possible demise of his pets.
  4. When in doubt, refer to numbers 1 and 2 above.

(Note: I’m not saying the pilots intentionally tried to circumvent the rules because of pressure from Depp or anyone else. I wasn’t there. I don’t know. I’m just saying if you’re ever tempted to bend the rules in order to make a client happy – DON’T. Your passenger can probably afford the fine. You might not want to spend a couple of years in jail. And Pistol and Boo? I’m certain they didn’t want to go “Down Under” in quite that manner.)

“Every dog has his day dog, when the big dog throws him a bone. One moment in the sunshine when your ducks lined up in a row…”

Make sure your international trip planning considers your four-legged passengers.

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