Back in June, we announced that we were moving home to Ireland. We arrived in San Francisco 8 years ago with just a couple of suitcases, and we are leaving with a container full of boxes, a baby, a cat and a dog. Planning for the move, along with juggling a newborn, has been challenging!
The biggest hurdle for us was figuring out how to get our fur-babies, Atticus and Scout, to Ireland with minimal trauma. As cliche as it sounds, they really are like our children, and the thoughts of putting them in the cargo area of a plane filled me with anxiety. At first, I was all about doing it myself and set about researching through the USDA website . I quickly became completely overwhelmed by the logistics of shipping animals, USDA requirements and so on, so we opted to use a third party. O' Brien Animal Transportation & Services (OATS) were recommended to us by a representative at Aerlingus. They're based in the Bay Area and ship animals all over the world (including lions!).
Katie Hensel was our representative at OATS, and she made the entire process so seamless. We initially planned to ship Atticus and Scout at the beginning of September, but decided to bring it forward to coincide with our month-long trip to Ireland this past June. We gave Katie 3 weeks notice of this change of plan and she didn't bat an eyelid. We chose the date, and OATS gave us a schedule of events. We purchased specific crates that OATS recommended, and then all we had to do was bring the pets into our local vet for examinations, updated vaccinations and worm treatment. We then picked up the signed paperwork from the vet and sent it to the Katie via courier.
Katie personally came to pick Atticus and Scout up on the day of travel. We had placed comfort blankets in their crates, along with items of our clothing (familiar smells comfort animals). We also taped their food to the crates in a ziploc bag. Once they were picked up, we received updates at every step of the way: check-in, flight status, stopover and landing. We even got some photos! OATS partner collected the pets in Dublin, processed them through customs and dropped them to our door. They were pretty excited to see their new home! We were shocked at how quickly they settled in, and how un-phased they seemed by their adventure.
It is possible to arrange international shipment of your animals yourself. There is a lot of paperwork and planning, but it can be done. I am so happy that we decided to use a vendor, and we are so grateful to O'Brien Animal Transport Services for delivering our pets safely. If you have any questions about shipping pets to Ireland or our experience, please reach out!
Read more about our relocation here!