THE BEGINNING !!!
This all started when I decided to leave South Africa to live in the United Kingdom.
As my hobby I used to Exhibit Show Dogs and my pride and joy was the cocker spaniel.
This was my hobby, I really enjoyed doing this, it was really exciting when you see your dog in the ring just come 1st in a show, my reputation was getting known , I sold many puppies to people who either wanted to show the dogs or just as a pet.
My big black boy that was nicknamed by the judges at the shows as The Black Bomber won his first show at the age of 4 months, he was really on a high winning every show he entered for months.
He ended up getting Best In Show after only 4 years of showing which I was told is very soon for a dog as there were people there that have been showing for 25-30 years still waiting for a best in show. His pictures / profile were all over South Africa, the phone never stopped ringing for orders for puppies, it was like dealing with a Film Star especially when he had his photo shoots, because of this and who they were I grew very close to all of them.
I knew that when I decided to leave for the UK there would be turmoil in their lives as I was determined not to leave any one of them behind. Believe me I had many offers from friends to take them, people I knew that also exhibited and bred the Cocker spaniel they would have had a good home with them, I trusted them even knew they would be well looked after but still decided against it.
The first part was to get all their blood testing, rabies etc done for them to be able to travel to Europe, this took months to complete which was costly.
The next step was deciding on what kennels to find in Europe, I spent weeks looking for agents who could find good kennels, eventually I found agents and trusted in them to come up with good facilities.
I settled for kennels in Normandy, France which was not too far to travel to see them once I was in the UK as everyone knows this is a 6 month quarantine. I was quite happy as I was also told that the French just love their dogs.
There blood testing and rabies results came back absolutely clear. They had a check up with my vet to find they were all 100% healthy, the last thing was their microchip which eventually got done.
The next step was booking their air travel which was very costly as they had to have special crates made to travel in. Then came the first worst part which was placing them into kennels in SA and parting with them for a couple of weeks until I got myself over to UK and settled in one place, luckily they knew the owners of these kennels from the dog shows , they were well looked after, plus, they were also good friends , they gave them extra priorities.
The next step was their travel arrangements with the pet travel company who did all this for me. The Air Travel Company was liaising with the agents in UK for their arrival in France of which they told me they would be there to see them safely to their destination, unfortunately I could not afford to go over to France myself and see to this which bothered me.
THE START OF MY PROBLEMS !!!
Well everything went from bad to worse from here on, firstly the agents didn’t turn up at the airport plus they had lost the dogs in transit, they were sitting in Spain with apparently no water for 10 hours. After all the phone calls to trace them and to organise a flight to France I was just about at the end of everything, eventually the kennel owners arrived at Charles Degaulle Airport and collected them after more mess up with their paperwork.
I thanked them as they told me in broken English that they were all fine , settled into the kennels.
I made them tell me each name on their papers so I knew that they were all there.
I phoned them every week to see how they were, the owners said they were all happy, enjoying their stay. I decided after 3 months of them being there I would take a trip over to see them for myself so I would have my mind at rest.
I spent the weekend in a Caravan site close to the kennels so I could be near to them.
Well, I arrived at the kennels in the morning to find it was just an old barn, they had 3 large rooms between them ( 3 in one room and 3 in another right next to each other) I was devastated, the floors were concrete they had plastic beds one each, no bedding, it was dark, damp and cold, they had one water bowl between 3 dogs they had a flap to get in and out of that led onto a concrete and loose stone area (no grass) they would be locked inside after they were fed , they couldn’t get out until the next morning.
I arrived pretty early , they were not expecting me to turn up so early but it was after 8am , still the dogs had not been let outside, the kennels were full of faeces / urine where they obviously were desperate.
They were so ill looking, disgustingly smelly with knots right to their skin, I almost died on the spot. They were very stressed but so glad to see me, but I couldn’t do anything for them, I was out of control. I couldn’t even move them from the kennels they were in to another one as this was so costly but to think I had to turn away once more for another 3 months.
I got my father to take over fresh new blankets, toys, treats, anything I could think of just to make them more comfortable for the next 3 months. I was told that for the wellbeing of my dogs and myself not to return to visit them so, I took the advice.
HAPPIER/ SAD DAYS TO COME !!!
The next 3 months went by so slowly but eventually came the day to pick up my babies and bring them home it was a happy day for me but for them they didn’t really know what was going on, after all they had so many things happen to them from the day they left their lovely home in South Africa.
They were all sick and dehydrated so I had to take them to a vet I chose for their treatments in the UK who happened to be a South African, unfortunately everything didn’t end in such a happy way, due to them laying in the own urine all those months my one little girl developed a tumour which the vet put down to laying on a wet damp acid floor which caused acid sores that turned into tumours, this was not told to me and obviously they didn’t bother to check the animals wellbeing. This got much worse as time went on, She had had a stroke on top of that, I had only 10 days left with her before I was persuaded to have her put to sleep, for those 10 days I looked into her eyes for forgiveness, I carried her everywhere wrapped in bandages that I changed regularly, my vet had her on painkillers to ease the pain, She just looked at me as if to say, I am home now with my family, will my dogs ever forgive me for this tragic ordeal.
It took me months to get them all back to their beautiful state once more, I had to shave them all off and start again, I don’t normally shave cockers as they tend to go curly but I had no choice, however I was lucky they grew back ok. I was told I should sue the kennels and the agent for not doing his job either, but unfortunately the RSPCA advised against it as the language barrier was a problem and it would take forever, they told me that they had experienced these kind of problems in the past.
Although this is now 4 years ago it still brings tears to my eyes, I am happy to say my 5 remaining are well and happy once more, they still get very anxious if you go out or leave them for long periods so we try to make sure that someone is here with them.
All I can recommend if people are planning on taking their animals from country to country is to try and find out as much as possible about the kennels before hand , if possible go or get someone to go to see what their conditions are like, I would hate for anyone to experience what I experienced in those 6 months! Is it really worth putting your animals plus yourselves through this traumatic experience, it really makes you wonder, but then again could you leave your babies and travel thousands of miles away knowing you will never see them again !!!!
ENDING NOTE !!!
In my personal opinion I feel that the quarantine for all animals is far too long, this should be shortened by half the time at least, this is a very stressful time for both families as well as the animals. If there were any abnormalities in the animals surely this would show before the 6 month period was finalised.?
When an animal has their Titre testing etc, the results are within a couple of weeks, isn’t this enough to prove that the animal is healthy to travel to any country.?
Written by Bediveare