Saturday, 17 May 2014

Emigrating with Pets (Bunnies!)

Anybody who knows me knows I love animals, and I adore our two house-rabbits, Penny and Boo. It's absolutely unthinkable that we go anywhere without them, so an added 'stress' of the move has been researching how we go about that, what we need to do, gathering quotes for animal export, etc.

Penny and Boo, gorgeous little buns
We've had them for around a year and a half - they are house bunnies and have never been outside as we live in an apartment (so I am very excited to see them running free in the Norwegian grass!)

Penny (Penelope!) is the white bun: she is half English Spot and the vet reckons she has some giant in her too. In the picture above she is still small, she is a big girl these days. She is lovely and very fussy, she adores Hans (and he adores Penny) and she gets too many treats. She is a bit aggressive with food and grunts and growls when food is around and a careless person gets too close. She has helicopter ears (as you can see!) but as she gets older her upright ear is getting lazier. I hope she doesn't lose it completely as it's adorable and she looks confused and/or inquisitve all of the time.

Boo is the fawn coloured bun; a Dwarf Lop. Boo is.... difficult. They're both adopted / rescued bunnies and we found out (too late) that Boo was seperated from her brothers and sisters for fighting. She still fights; any other rabbit, slippers, sometimes socks (when you're wearing them). BUT to her credit she has developed a close friendship with the vacuum cleaner so it's not all bad. After lots of hard work we gained her trust and she is affectionate with us. Honestly, we did discuss putting Boo up for adoption and taking only Penny with us, but decided no - Boo is a little bit 'special', but she is our bunny and we love her. So she gets a new life too!

Luckily with Norway being a part of the EEA, the process hasn't been too difficult. The most awkward thing has been finding rules specific to rabbits, as they tend to state 'dog, cat or ferret'. 
On the Norway side of things, the rules for pet import are goverened by the Norwegian Food Safety Authority, Mattilsynet. It was on this site I found an 'import of rabbits' form.
The down-side of it is the cost - you can save money if you do everything yourself, but it would be too difficult for us to do that as we are going seperately and the rabbits are going alone. After gathering many different quotes and lookng at different options we decided to go with a company who would take care of everything.

In my own Little Miss Organised way, I made a spreadsheet showing the different companies I contacted, what the quotes offered, price differences (including comments on how the customer service was (because that stuff is IMPORTANT damn it!) In the end a company called JCS Livestock won. Obviously, the event hasn't happened yet (and I'll report back once it has!) I was given their details by a girl at work who used to work for Twycross Zoo, the Zoo apparantly use JCS and are very happy with them.

We got one of the best quotes from JCS, and then after researching reviews and checking out their Facebook page that did it for me - lots of happy customers! So fingers crossed and watch this space - I'll report how it goes.
JCS will pick up the bunnies from home, drive them to the airport, x-ray them (I think), provide carriers, sort all of the paperwork, arrange the flight, etc... we just have to collect them from the airport at the other end. We have saved some money by arranging to get the vet letter ourselves. We don't need passports for the rabbits, but Mattilsynet specify that we need a Vet letter specifying:
  • we've owned them for more than 6 months
  • they're older than 3 months
  • they're healthy
  • vaccinations are up to date
  • they have had exams for myxomatosis and rabbit VHD
We just got them microchipped too - it wasn't necessary before as they lived indoors, but thought it best to do it now. We made sure that our vet registered them with Petlog, as we can tranfser the information once in Norway and it's officially recognised.

Will update on the pet situation when I have more to say! Bye x

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