Saturday, June 11, 2011

Flying is for the Birds

My name is Cayenne, and I am an African Grey parrot.

I have lived with my mother since I was only four months old. I was 15 years old in April.

My mother joined the Foreign Service when I was 8, and since then, I have had to get used to this travelling thing. Mostly I have had to get used to my mother's fretting about the travelling thing.

When we went to Jerusalem, no one told my mom that I needed something called a CITES certificate. The officials at the airports in Tel Aviv didn't seem to know that either. They never asked for one. Of course, they also didn't ask for the USDA form that is also required. So maybe they just don't know.

Anyway, this CITES certificate is something about importing and exporting exotic species. I'm not sure why this applies to me, since I was born in Mississippi. I guess Mississippi is sort of exotic....

Anyway, mom didn't know this was a problem until we were coming back from Jerusalem. That is when someone told her that she was not allowed to import me from Israel because they had bird flu.

She told them she wasn't importing me, that like her, I am a native Southerner. And that the bird flu was only in Gaza, and that I was never allowed to leave our apartment in Jerusalem.

They didn't seem to care. They said she had to get a CITES permit or I would be put down when we got to the States.

Not sure why that is a big holds me and then puts me down every day. But she seemed really upset. I got a lot of hugs during that period.

Anyway, it all worked out. They accepted my hatch certificate from Mississippi and she got the permit. I did have to stay at this fancy hotel in New York for 30 days, but mom was more upset about that than I was. This nice lady talked to me every day and gave me some medicine she said was just in case I brought anything nasty back with me. She even let me have some of my toys and my own food with me.

The point of all of this is that this time, mom is making sure she gets that CITES permit so I can both go overseas with her and come home again at the end of the tour. Because you know, we Greys live 25 to 50 years on average, so I am still pretty young. I bet I'll get to see mom retire.

So if you are travelling with your bird, you should check and see if they need that permit too. Just in case. You can find the info about it here and here.

Friday, June 10, 2011

Pet Air Travel Tips: More Safety - Less Stress

Sorry I haven't written you in a while...I have been adjusting to my new brother. And now I am adjusting to the idea that we are moving soon.

So in the spirit of moving, my mom got this email from PetLink the other day and I thought I would steal it and share it with you.

Dear DiploDoggie's mom,
Taking flight with DiploDoggie? Make it safe and relaxing for both of you with a few tips from your friends at PetLink.

Many thousands of animals travel safely aboard aircraft every year. How do they travel? You may transport your pet as accompanied baggage, if you are a passenger on the same flight as your pet. On flights of less than 6 hours most airlines will allow pets to be taken with the passenger in the cabin (except when flying to the UK). The container for the pet must fit under the seat in front of you and must have a waterproof bottom. The other way that pets can travel by plane is in the pressurized cargo hold (if they cannot be accompanied or if they are too large to fly in the cabin). Whether the pet is flying as checked baggage or as cargo they will arrive in the same special area of the cargo department, which is pressurized and temperature controlled. Airline personnel make every effort to handle pets with the care they deserve.

If you are thinking of flying with your pet, how should you prepare?


•Visit and update your contact information, including adding temporary contact information where you can be reached during your vacation.

•Animals traveling internationally need to have a 15 digit microchip that should appear on all Veterinary and Vaccination Certificates. This microchip will also be read at security.

•Purchase an IATA compliant pet carrier crate in which your pet can comfortably stand, lie down and turn around. Remember to cover the bottom of the pet carrier with a cozy towel or other absorbent material and give your pet at least one month to become familiar with the carrier.

•During the winter months, the airlines may require documentation called an 'acclimation certificate' stating that your pet is acclimated to temperatures lower than 45 degrees.

•Check your pet's collar tag to make sure it won't become caught in the carrier doors. Get a durable collar tag that shows your pet's microchip number and the PetLink toll-free number. As a precaution, also attach a separate collar tag with destination address & contact information.

•Clearly identify your pet on the outside of the crate including his or her photo, name, and contact information for your pet's destination point. Carry a photo of your pet.


•Within 10 days of your trip, obtain a health certificate from your vet, including an update of vaccinations. •Bring your pet's medical records.

•Bring your first aid kit.

•Bring DiploDoggie's medications - especially anti-diarrheal and motion sickness meds.

•Take prescriptions with you.

•Take along fresh water - freeze it the night before.

•Choose direct flights where possible to minimize exposure to extreme temperatures or stress of sitting in the cargo hold.

•For longer flights or layovers, attach a small pouch of dry food to the outside of the carrier.

•Keep in mind that each airline has its own guidelines: let airline personnel know that you're traveling with a pet.

•Always remain on the same flight as your pet.

Remember, the number one stress-relieving tip is to prepare well enough in advance of your trip - beginning with a visit to your vet and another one on to learn more about pet travel! Relax! Thousands of furry travelers fly safely every year.

Most importantly... have fun!

Sincerely,Your PetLink Team

PS The ASPCA does not recommend flying your pet in the cargo hold. If it is unavoidable, the above tips can help ensure your pet's safety and well-being.

Friday, February 4, 2011

Pets in Cairo

This post is from Life After Jerusalem. I wanted other pets to know about this and tell their parents to help if they can!


AFSA has started a new Facebook page for Foreign Affairs Friends of Animals Network. They have sent a couple of emails recently that about the pets of the folks evacuated from Cairo that I wanted to share with you. The second is the more important, because they are looking for your help. They are having a couple meetings for people here in DC who can help, especially those who are in a position to foster some pets.

Here is the first:

Colleagues –

Per the U.S.U.S. Embassy Egypt evacuation status, non-emergency Embassy personnel and families have been ordered to depart Egypt, and some 2,000 U.S. citizens and family members have been evacuated since January 31 – but evacuation flights are not able to accommodate pets. Meanwhile, reports have been trickling out about the paucity of pet options for evacuating USG staff and families – and indeed, for all US citizens.

We have established contact with animal welfare organizations in the U.S. and in Egypt, to evaluate what if anything we can do to assist U.S. pets and pet owners involved in the current evacuation.

Additionally, through AFSA, we have started a dialogue with the DOS Director General’s office, with the goal of developing an SOP for handling pets in future evacuations. We are looking at the model of the U.S. domestic Pets Evacuation and Transportation Standards Act of 2006 – an Act passed and signed into law by President Bush in the aftermath of Katrina, in response to evidence that human lives were put at risk when people were ordered to evacuate without their pets.

Are you a pet owner who has been involved in the Egypt evacuation yourself, or do you have close contact with a pet owner who has been involved?

Do you have ideas about what our network might do to help U.S. pets and pet owners involved in the evacuation?

Do you have suggestions for the proposed SOP to cover handling pets in future evacuations?

The Foreign Affairs Friends of Animals Network can help advocate for better evacuation plans that incorporate elements of domestic legislation. We want to hear from you!

Here is the second:

The FLO has started a blog to gather detailed information about pets remaining in Cairo, and to coordinate their care and transport as appropriate. The URL is

While the FLO works on that end, they have asked AFSA and the Foreign Affairs Friends of Animals Network to help with contingency planning on the DC end. We don’t know how the situation will evolve in the coming days, but one scenario may possibly involve flying the pets to the DC area, in which case a network of volunteers would potentially be needed to provide short-term care for some of these cats and dogs.

Are you in the DC area and interested in lending a hand?
- Let us know if you can meet at the AFSA office, 2101 E Street NW in DC this Saturday or Sunday Feb. 5 or 6 at 2 pm.
- If you can’t come to a meeting this weekend, but are potentially available to provide short-term fostering in the DC area for a USG dog or cat, please let us know that too.

Tuesday, February 1, 2011

But you can't make me like it

My mother went out and bought me a coat to wear when it snows.

I'm not a fan, but I can deal with it.

But then she bought me boots.

Really? I have gone my whole life without wearing any clothes other than my collar and I have done just fine.

But she tells me that we are moving to some really cold place next and that I need to have a coat to keep the snow off my coat and boots to protect my feets.

And then she showed me this article, in the Wall Street Journal, which is apparently an important newspaper and apparently says she is right.

But that doesn't mean I have to be happy about it.

Ready For the Dog Days of Winter?

Is a $175 Bella Lucca faux mink coat for dogs medically necessary?

Pricey couture is optional, but some breeds do need outerwear in the winter, veterinarians say. Small, short-haired, inactive dogs without a thick fur undercoat are more susceptible to cold weather.

Breeds include the Chihuahua, dachshund, Boston terrier, shih tzu, bichon frise, miniature pinscher and the xolo, a Mexican hairless dog.

"There's no question in winter with rain, snow and ice that these dogs are more at risk because of their size and inability to keep body heat," says Rene Carlson, president-elect of the American Veterinary Medical Association.

Normal dog body temperature runs 101 to 102 degrees. A drop in body temperature of five or six degrees can put dogs at risk of low blood pressure and kidney damage, as well as decreased blood flow to the liver and brain, which can possibly lead to hypothermia.

Elderly or ailing animals may need to don extra layers, regardless of their breed, says Stephen Zawistowski, science adviser to the American Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals.

There are plenty of pet apparel purveyors these days. Outdoor retailer REI sells $40 "Adventure Dog Boots" with recycled tire rubber soles, while offers a crocheted acrylic/wool cap for toy breeds.

Bigger breeds bred for outdoor life and work, such as the Labrador retriever, German shepherd and Siberian husky, typically can stick it out in the buff, so long as they are active on walks or have a sheltered spot with lots of bedding and a nutritious, plentiful diet if left outdoors, vets say.

"When we think of the working and sporting dogs, these are the ones less likely to need protection," Dr. Zawistowski says. "Lap dogs need it the most."

Useful garb may include: wool and polyester sweaters, fleece or waterproof jackets and booties to protect from ice and salted streets and sidewalks. Indoors, extra layers can help, too.

There are also bed warmers, such as the Pet-zzz-pad, an American Kennel Club-licensed item, with cords encased in steel chew-resistant casing.

Less useful, Dr. Carlson says: hats and goggles, which can throw off an animal's equilibrium. "Dogs have a very good blinking response and a third eyelid that comes up if there's need for protection."

Keeping Fido warm doesn't have to cost a fortune. A child's sweatshirt from a thrift shop cut to fit and bundled under a dog's belly with a zip tie can do the trick.

"When you're spending $250 on a designer coat, that's so you can be seen with the dog in the coat, not for the dog," says Dr. Zawistowski says.

This was in a side box:

Ice-Melt Poses Pet Risks

When protecting dogs from harsh winter conditions, don't overlook the paws.

Rock salt (sodium chloride), a common ice-melting agent, can irritate pets' paws, mouths and gastrointestinal systems and trigger seizures when ingested in large quantities.

Alternative ice- and snow-melt products, with names like "Safe Paw," "Safe-T-Pet" and "Ice Melt for Pets," may be less irritating, but still can pose risks. Some include magnesium, calcium, potassium or urea, which also can pose problems when consumed in large amounts, says Camille DeClementi, senior toxicologist for the Animal Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals.

"We worry that if pets ingest a fair amount, it will change the electrolyte balance in their bloodstream," Dr. DeClementi says. Among the possible effects: dehydration, kidney failure, heart arrhythmia and seizures.

What puts pets at risk? Piling product on sidewalks rather than sprinkling as directed, or accidentally leaving open bags where they're accessible to pets. In cases of concentrated ingestion, a urea or calcium-based product generally poses less risk than products with other common ingredients, Dr. DeClementi says.

She recommends wiping pets' paws down after walks and keeping fur between paw pads trimmed but not too short. If an animal exhibits lethargy, vomiting, diarrhea, twitching or trembling, call the veterinarian or Animal Poison Control Center (888-426-4435) and have product label nearby for reference.