(Part One)

"Flying? I don't think so!"

“Flying? I don’t think so!”

(Ecuador) Most of you know that my friend Julie is battling cancer in the USA, and I’m helping her husband Jim as he moves their home contents, personal belongings and 4 cats back to the USA. I am also helping him prepare to sell their 100+ hectare property near Mindo. After we waved ‘Goodbye’ to the moving company crew and their trucks, we began gathering information about sending the four feline members of the family to the USA. Before purchasing appropriate cat carriers/kennels, we needed the specs. Jim checked with USDA websites as well as the airlines. We also asked various friends and professionals, and we received conflicting information.

“It’s easy to send pets back to the USA.”

“Just be sure the vaccinations are up to date.”

“Any sturdy pet carrier will work.”

“All you need to do is show up with your pet and up-to-date paperwork, and fly the pet as carry on.”

“Measure the height of the pet, from the floor to the cat’s head or tail when it’s sitting or standing, and add two inches to that…”

"Quick! What's the distance between the ground on the tip of my tail?""

“Quick! What’s the distance between the ground on the tip of my tail?””

“Ventilation on three sides of carrier/kennel.”

“Ventilation on four sides.”

“No vent holes on top.”

“Container for food and water must be attached to the inside of the carrier/kennel and accessible to the outside so that the food and water can be provided without opening the door.”

"I'm not so sure about this concept!"

“I’m not so sure about this concept!”

Every airline’s website seemed to have different online information, so we drove to the Quito airport (3 hours on a good day!) in hopes of finding the most reliable information. Jim planned to purchase his airline ticket based on which company provided the most-helpful information and professional care for their pets. At the Quito airport, we were directed to the upstairs offices of the major airlines. We visited American, Delta and United Airline offices and received more conflicting information.

“I don’t know about that. The person that can help you isn’t here…”

“How big are the cats?”

“Any pet store will have the carriers.”
(For four cats?) “Yes. it will be easy to find them.” (Is there a certain size, specification for what size carrier?)

“Go to our airline’s website, and instructions are there.”

"I"m big enough to fly!"

“I”m big enough to fly!”

“How big are the cats?”

“Yes, we sell carriers, but only at the home airport in Houston.”

“The person that can help you will be in the office tonight. We close for four hours in the afternoon and open again from 8 until 11 at night.”

“I’m sorry; our server is down, and I cannot access that information at this time.”

“I will call the person who can give you some information. Here, sit at my desk…”

"Wiill they provide cushioned seats?"

“Wiill they provide cushioned seats?”

‘Only one pet carry-on per person.’

‘There’s no one in Ecuador that can help you. Go to our airline’s website.”

“How big are the cats?”

“Only three ‘carry-on’ pets per plane, on a first come first serve basis.”

(But what options are there for four cats?)

“No limit for the number of pets in cargo.”

(“Cargo?” How do we check them through cargo and be sure they are on the same flight as Jim?”)

“Our ‘PerishAirport” (Perishable Handling Airport Services) can help you. They’re located near the traffic circle. That is where you would do the paperwork and leave the pets.”

"Are there more surprises ahead?"

“Are there more surprises ahead?”

“Rabies vaccination needs to be given at least one month before the flight.”

“Vaccinations need to be given ten days or less before flying the cats to the USA.”

“I will give you directions to a pet store in Quito. They should have three carriers. If not, there are many pet stores in Quito, and you should have no problem finding the right sized carriers.”

"First class for me, por favor!"

“First class for me, por favor!”

Leaving the airport with more questions than when we arrived, we began the search for four appropriate cat carriers with 2″ interior clearance (online specs – perhaps in case of turbulence?!)

We were not prepared for a detour, which routed us toward the southern end of Quito! Our next stop was not the pet shops, but AllPets Vet Hospital in hopes they knew the current airline regulations and to schedule the required vaccinations. Jim and Julie have used Allpets in the past, so that stop was a refreshing one! Several doctors rotate shifts at the 24-hour AllPets, and we were assured that they would work the cats into their schedule and process the required paperwork when needed.

They pointed us to several pet stores nearby, and we embarked on a cat-kennel search!

"Wake me when it's time to fly"

“Wake me when it’s time to fly”

(Stay tuned for part two…)