Wednesday, September 3, 2014

The Hidden Cost of Pets in the Foreign Service

It's pretty amazing to me the number of people who have pets in the Foreign Service. I'm not talking people who joined while they had pets, but rather people who know what's going on, and still choose to continually get new pets. We've recently learned that there are rather substantial costs attached to bringing your animals overseas with you. I'll give you a brief outline of what it cost us to get our two (healthy) cats to India. (All prices are estimates from memory)

Vet Bills: vaccinations and healthy inspects ($2-300 total)
USDA Vet Bills: Certifying them to go overseas ($80)
FEDEX: Due to the timings involved in the paperwork we had to FedEx or drive it to/from Richmond's USDA facility ($50)
Motor Pool costs: Once in India, we had to take the cats to the quarantine facility to be inspected, twice. ($5 and 6-7 hours of work time)
Quarantine Inspection/Expediator Fees: ($115)
Plane Pet Fee: In cabin ($300)
Non-City-Pair price difference: Our city pair was through Heathrow, which doesn't allow pets. We are allowed to break the city pair because of this, but have to pay the price difference ($750)
Pet carriers: Soft ones that would fit under our seats ($50)

All in all we're looking at an extra $1500. Maybe that's not the end of the world, but if you consider it's for a two year posting, that's around $50 per month... not counting their food, litter or continuing vet bills.

On the other hand, having our cats walking around like they owned the place and generally acting like cats did give our new house an immediate sense of normality. I'm told it's small things like that that help you avoid culture shock and keep your resiliency. I guess it was probably worth it, this time. I doubt we'll continue to adopt new cats though, when ours pass away.

One last note, we adopted our cats when they were 12 years old (pretty old for a cat) and it was an insanely traumatizing experience for them. It was weeks or months before they got back to acting what we've since found to be normal for them. We expected a similar transition when moving... but it just didn't happen. They took the change of scenery in stride (though perhaps they were just thrilled to be out of the carriers after their 25ish hour torture session)!

No comments:

Post a Comment