Taking the Dog Back to the USA

We arrived back in DC after wrapping up our assignment in Malabo about three weeks ago.  It was a spectacularly uneventful journey, which we were especially grateful for, given that we were flying with me at 7.5 months pregnant, a dog with separation/anxiety issues, and more luggage than poor Cormac could really wrangle on his own.  Since a lot of people we know are planning to eventually depart Malabo with a dog or cat, we thought we would share the process of how to get a pet off the island.  You can read about how we brought Molly with us to Bioko here.

The same day that we booked out tickets on Lufthansa, we made sure to make a reservation for Molly on the same flight.  If you’re in Malabo, you can go to their office and make the reservation in person.  Otherwise, you can just call Lufthansa and give them the weight of your dog and kennel size to book a spot.  You’ll have to pay for the excess baggage charges (which you can only do in cash in Malabo) at check-in.

The USA’s import requirements for dogs going to the continental 48 states is pretty easy.  They need a rabies vaccine and certification that the pup is screw worm free, if you’re coming from a place with screw worm.  We went a step further and had the vet issue us a general certificate of health (on the USDA’s export certificate form), just in case someone in Frankfurt, Germany (our transit city) wanted to see that she had been fully vaccinated and micro-chipped.  To get the dog out of the Malabo airport, you need a letter from the Ministry of Agriculture, signed by one of the Ministry’s vets, certifying that they are healthy enough to travel.  The only document that anyone actually asked to see during the whole travel period was the letter from the Ministry, which is what we were told by a friend who also traveled with a dog recently, so it’s worth getting the letter if you plan to travel with a pet out of SSG.

Molly was loaded onto the checked baggage belt at the Lufthansa desk in Malabo about an hour before take-off.  She was treated to a water and potty break at the Frankfurt Pet Lounge since our layover was just over three hours long, and then boarded the next flight to Washington, DC.  We met her at the over sized luggage counter in Dulles airport about 26 hours later, where she was clearly a bit confused and scared.

The poor pup is having a little bit of trouble adjusting to live in the big city.  Since she spent her first ten months of life living in the sleepy suburbs of Malabo on a walled and gated compound, she didn’t get a whole lot of exposure to people, cars, or other dogs.  We pass more people walking out of our apartment building than we did on any walk we ever took off-compound in Malabo.  And sometimes they have the audacity to carry strange objects! Or make noises!  Add in the cars and sirens and it’s just about more than our poor Molly can take.  If she sees another dog, she absolutely loses her mind trying to decide whether to be scared or excited that there’s a potential playmate headed her way.  Needless to say, we’re doing a lot of training and probably signing up for some professionally led classes to help her adjust to life in the city.  She’s making slow progress each day, but with a baby on the way, we are hoping we can move her along at a little bit faster pace!