Know Before You Go! Accessibilty Tips for Mature Travelers Traveling With a Service Animal.
Accessibility of service animals can be a consideration of mature travelers when choosing their mode of travel, accommodations and vacation spot. For cruise enthusiasts for example, it is something the traveler looks at in hotels when travelling to their cruise ship, the airline that gets them there and the cruise ship itself. These will be covered in a series of articles to follow but today we are going to talk about general planning necessary to get your service animal safely into the country you wish to visit. Accessibility of a service animal may not be an issue in your country, but could be abroad.
If you are a traveler travelling with a service dog, special arrangements have to be made and investigated before embarking on your travel. Sometimes this can take up to a year’s planning……. so start now.
Depending on where you are going, some countries have restrictions on animals travelling through, or arriving in, the destination country so always do your homework. The country’s embassy or consulate can let you know details of documentation required, health certificates of the service animal needed and any quarantine requirements. If it is a foreign country with a predominate language other than English, these documents should also be translated into the language of the country in which you are travelling and should be readily available at all border crossings or security areas.
Always check with your vet on how travel in a foreign country is going to affect your service dog. Temperatures, humidity, availability of familiar pet food, and safe water need to be taken into account. You also should consider health insurance for your service animal as it can be quite costly should you run into a problem overseas.
As a final recommendation, outfit your dog with recognizable gear with the words “SERVICE ANIMAL” or “GUIDE DOG” written on the harness in bold letters. In order for people to know he/she is a service animal this must also be translated in the language of the country you are visiting. Bring a letter from your veterinarian stating why you require the service animal and finally, know the requirements you must adhere to upon re-entry back into your country of origin. Certain exit countries will trigger a requirement to screen your dog for diseases native to the country you were visiting.