I admit, I’m not much of a pet lover. I remember when someone told me that if I can’t take care a pet how can I take care of a person? Uhuh. I ought to ask my husband about my caring skills. Haha! Anyway, that’s it: I don’t like owning dogs or cats because I’m kind of afraid of them. Haha! I grew up with dogs in our province in the Philippines but they’re not really my pets; more of like my grandmother’s and mother’s. They were just around but I don’t really touch and engage them as often as pet lovers would do. I was also traumatized when I went on vacation in the Philippines in 2010. I was bitten by my sister’s dog a few hours before my flight back to Saudi Arabia! A FEW HOURS! I was rushed to the Medical City where they injected me with my first dose of anti-rabies (because my sister wasn’t sure when the last time our dog had its vaccine). I made it to my flight and when I got back in Saudi Arabia, I completed my anti-rabies vaccine shots at the Shimeisy Hospital where I got them for free in their Emergency Department. So anyway… why am I blabbering about this? Because a few months back, I wanted to raise hell (sort of) at the King Khaled International Airport because of a dog. Yes, for the sake of a DOG.
My older brother and his wife (my sister-in-law) own a Havanese dog and his name is Shadow. They had him for two years and they love him like their own “child”. They got him during the time when they were starting on their own. They live in Naseem and they were far from us who live in the Suleimania area. Shadow is their companion every day. And yes, you might be wondering why he’s called Shadow when clearly, he’s as white as day. It’s not the color, folks, but his mannerism of “shadowing” people who are close to him. He goes where my brothers, SIL and sisters go. Shadow, not the color of a shadow but the act of shadowing. There.
My sister-in-law got pregnant on the last quarter of 2015 and she was to give birth in June. She went home to the Philippines to give birth in her hometown in May while my brother stayed behind in Riyadh to process his exit papers. So while processing his exit papers, he was also processing the papers of Shadow because he’s also bringing him home to the Philippines with him on the same flight. Here’s the process and documents he needed to acquire to bring home Shadow (and these are also the steps you need so that you can bring home your dogs to your home country):
1. Secure a medical clearance from a licensed veterinary clinic in Riyadh that is authorized by the Ministry of Agriculture (MOA). This clearance will also serve as the pet’s passport. It should have a photo of your dog. Now, you don’t just go to any pet clinic you see in Riyadh. They have to be accredited! Here’s a list of accredited veterinary clinics in Riyadh (list acquired from the MOA last May 2016):
- Advanced Pet Clinic, Abu Bakr As Sidiq Road, Al Masif District
- Fahad Bin Sultan Center for Raptors, Exit 9, Al Izdihar District
- Pet Oasis, Al Ihsa Street, Al Malaz District
- Elite Veterinary Clinic, Imam Mohammed Bin Saad Bin Abdul Aziz Road, Al Aqiq District
- Bandar Al Dira’e Centre for Raptors, Al Thumamah Road, Al Janadriyah District
- Joon Company Clinic, Makkah Al Mukaramah Road, Al Mather District
- Al Twaij Clinic, Al Haeer Road, Ad Dar Al Baida District
- Al Khaleej Clinic, Al Haeer Road, Ad Dar Al Baida District
If you get a clearance from a clinic that is not accredited, the MOA will not issue a clearance. Your dogs should have complete proper vaccines. Anti-rabies is the most important vaccines and it costs around SR 150-180.
2. Bring your dog to the Ministry of Agriculture (MAP) to get a medical certificate from a resident veterinarian. You will also have to get the Certificate to Export from him. This should be done 7 days before you leave the Kingdom because the certificates have an expiration date. No microchipping necessary.
3. Book a flight on airlines that allow live animals. Most likely that will be Saudi Airlines and Philippines Airlines (PAL) for those who are going to the Philippines. My brother booked a flight with Saudi Airlines. Last May, Philippine Airlines wasn’t allowed by the KKIA management to fly live animals because they upgraded x-ray machines so it’s better to check with PAL first if they are already accepting live animals. You can call their numbers or visit their office.
- Saudi Airlines Branches in Riyadh
Al Morouj, Olaya Street, Riyadh, Saudi Arabia
Tel: +966 112683723
Office Hours: Sunday To Thursday: 8:00 AM – 10:00 PM / Saturday & Friday: 3:00 PM – 10:00 PM
Check this PAGE for Saudia’s policies on traveling domestic animals and pets.
- Philippine Airlines Branches in Saudi Arabia
MAIN OFFICE: Al-Tayyar (Central Province)
Prince Mamdouh Bin Abdulaziz St., Suleimania, Riyadh 12242, Saudi Arabia
Tel: +966-11-465-3995 ext. 100 / 101 / 102
Office Hours: Sundays to Thursdays: 9:00 AM – 1:00 PM / 4:00 p.m. – 9:00 p.m.
The planes usually have an oxygen machine (or something like that) that is meant for animals on board. The dog (or any live animal) will be considered as excess baggage and will fly in their baggage hold. You will pay at the cashier where the excess baggage/luggage is paid at the airport. In case of terminal 2, that’s the desk near the coffee shop in the Departure area.
- Go to the airport early! You will have enough time to secure the animal’s fare/ticket and if there are any hassles, then you can smoothen it out and solve the problems without worrying that you’ll be late for your flight.
- Book your flights during the non-peak season so that there will be no hassles in the airport. It won’t be crowded (dogs tend to bark you know) and the luggage belt and area are not crowded too.
- Make sure you leave your dog with a responsible airport personnel. The truth is, I don’t know how you’ll choose who this person is among them. But you really should. When you check-in, they will wait you wait on the side first and won’t take your dog immediately to the baggage hold. So you have to look after your pet for a while before you can go inside the immigration.
- It’s not necessary to inject the dog with a vaccine to make it sleep. But if you think that your pet will get too agitated, then it’s your and your veterinarian’s prerogative to do so.
- Use a strong, dependable cage for your pets. Also a strong lock. Visit this PAGE for the cage specification of Saudia.
4. Secure an Import Permit from the Bureau of Animal Industry (BAI) in the Philippines. They have a form in their website that you can download (but I couldn’t link it now because their website is NOT opening!) and you need to show this to the airport in the Philippines when you arrive. If you don’t have the import permit when you land, you can talk with the Quarantine Officer on duty and present your pets papers, secure an import permit, and pay the necessary fees (of the import permit, not a bribe, lol),
And that’s it. Okay, so sounds simple yes?
In the case of Shadow… no. Our patience was tested during that time because here’s what happened: So my brother has secured all the necessary permits and documents even before leaving the house on the day of his and Shadow’s flight. We went with him to Terminal 2 for Saudi Airlines’ international flights at least five hours before his flight at midnight (5 hours!!!). There were a lot of people then because the start of the Eid Al Fitr holiday was just two days away and a lot of people are also going out of KSA then. We went to the airport early so that everything goes smoothly, and if there will be snags then we will still have the time to solve it.
My brother lined up for an hour or so. Good thing, Shadow was in his best form and he was really quiet. He barks occasionally making heads turn to my brother’s direction in the line, haha. But overall, he was a nice dog that keeps still in his cage. He stayed in the house for two days and while I mostly avoided him, he’s such a cute, fluffy and energetic dog. It’s not hard to like him. Anyway, back to the KKIA, after an hour or so, my brother has already checked in and got his boarding pass. The guy at the counter asked him to check with the airport personnel near the information desk on what to do with the dog next. So we inquired and the personnel said we just wait near the desk and he will get Shadow from my brother an hour before the flight. It was around 10:00 PM by this time. We bid goodbye to my brother who will wait for another hour with Shadow at the Departure area because he couldn’t go inside the immigration and boarding gate before the personnel gets Shadow from him. So he waited and we went home and he texted a few minutes before midnight that Shadow was already taken by the airport personnel and he was already boarding. So that’s that.
The following day, my brother’s plane landed in Manila. It was morning here in Riyadh when he called me. He couldn’t get through because he was calling me via Facebook Messenger so I decided to call on the phone of our younger brother who fetched him in the airport. The older bro was frantic when I talked to him. “Iniwan nila si Shadow!!!” (“They left Shadow!!!”) And I was like, “Huh? Nino?” (“Huh? Who?”) He was shouting in my ears: “THEY LEFT SHADOW IN THE AIRPORT IN RIYADH!!!” WTF moment, you guys. I think my heart stopped a beat. “WHAT!!!!!!!” We were all so frustrated! My brother arrived in NAIA and when he went to the claim area, a note was already prepared for him. Shadow was left in the airport because the airport staff were late in getting him to the plane. Another face palm moment. We took all preparations and precautions just to have the dog flown and brought home to the Philippines and this happened! We cannot help it when other people are careless and irresponsible, I guess. But my blood went to my head and I wanted to be angry at something, someone, whatever!
So where is Shadow? At the airport’s baggage area, poor baby! Turned out, while I was talking to my brother, my father got a call in his office from the airport informing him that there’s a dog left there and can we please pick it up pronto? My father picked me up from the workplace after lunch and we headed to the airport to pick up Shadow. I know I am a calm and basically a chill person but on the way to the airport, I was fuming mad. How can they let this happen? The poor dog was left there without his owner, so antsy and hungry (because the last time he ate was like 12 hours ago)? I wanted to find the airport personnel that we talked to the night before and give him a piece of my mind!
When we got to the airport, we went to the desk at the Departure Terminal. The guy who called my father’s office told him that we should call him once we’re there but he wasn’t frigging answering his darn phone! Okay kalma. So we asked around if any personnel knew about the case of the left behind dog and everyone was shrugging their shoulders. I even saw the guy we talked to yesterday at the far end of the area and I was nagging my father that we should ask HIM! Fortunately, the guy who called us finally FINALLY answered his darn phone and told us to go to the Arrival Terminal and go inside the baggage area. We went down and my father went inside. He went out again carrying a cage with poor Shadow inside. Even if I’m not a dog lover, I felt for Shadow. He’s so wawa. I wanted to be angry towards someone, whoever was responsible for this, but I got embarrassed to make a scene because I was with my father who was the epitome of calmness. Hahaha! The guy told my father that we should try again tomorrow. We should bring Shadow again to the airport and he’ll be included in the next Saudia flight to the Philippines. Again I want to shout, “MAKE SURE YOU EFFIN GET HIM TO THAT NEXT FLIGHT OR ELSE… okay, okay, kalma (because I don’t actually know what to insert after OR ELSE, haha!)
We brought Shadow home and here’s the dilemma… the key to his cage was with my brother who was already in Manila. WOW. Thankfully, my husband is good with tinkering with stuff and he made a way to open the lock without damaging it. Shadow bounced out and ran all around the flat. He was pretty upbeat when he had eaten properly. I basically spent a good part of my day calling the Saudi Airlines office and the KKIA terminal just to make sure that there’s a flight and Shadow will get into the flight. I continued to call offices but was left with a ringing phone and 1. no one answering, 2. someone answering but he can’t speak in English, or 3. someone telling me to hold because she’ll pass me to another line and so on and on until I just hear the busy tone on the other line. I’ve never felt so hopeless in my life! I think I felt angriest at myself that I couldn’t do something! (I’m Miss Know-It-All after all.)
The following night, my father and my husband brought Shadow again to the airport in the hopes that he will fly. Yung totoo na ‘to moment! I was in a dinner with friends but I felt so nervous that they won’t allow Shadow to go, or worse, they’ll leave him behind again! I was asking my husband to take a picture of whoever gets the dog from them and whatever sticker or tag they put on him so that if something happens, I can put the picture of whoever is at fault in whoever’s face and get an answer! Hahaha! I was totally in panic mode. My husband updated me that a personnel already took Shadow (after an hour of checking his papers again and again) and they were on their way home. Hopefully, Shadow will be too in a few hours.
Before sleeping, I was praying so hard that Shadow will make it to the flight. Btw, the dog missed his domestic flight with my brother to Iloilo, where they are currently based. My sister-in-law was crying and panicking when she found out that Shadow didn’t make it to Manila… and guys, she was 9 months pregnant that time! She gave birth a few days early, maybe because a part of her got so agitated about the dog’s situation!
Anyway, so the following day, my younger brother and older sister was already at the airport to claim Shadow. The first thing I did was of course ask for updates. My sister said that my younger bro was already inside NAIA’s claim area and just waiting for word. Then a couple of minutes after, she texted that Shadow was MISSING. The NAIA airport staff couldn’t find him. SERIOUSLY?!?! A live animal in ONE flight… how hard can it be to find him?! It’s not as if his cage looked like a luggage yannow! We were all messaging each other; this has became a family affair, haha! My siblings and I are scattered, meaning my older bro in Iloilo, my two siblings in Manila, my younger sister in La Union, and me in Riyadh… all frantically messaging each other what’s going on. The staff were telling my brother that there’s only one dog in the Saudia flight from Riyadh to Manila and it was named after a woman owner. We spent hours waiting for word. Until finally… that dog turned out to be Shadow. Maybe they just tagged him with a name of one of the passengers because the poor dog is flying by himself BUT whose fault was that in the first place?!?
Finally, Shadow has landed in Manila! Can you imagine the ordeal he went through?! If he can only talk, he’s probably asking what did we put him through. Thankfully, he became energetic once freed from his cage and went jumping around the car. The sad part though is that he wasn’t able to make it to Iloilo to see his “brother”. My sister-in-law gave birth a day after Shadow arrived in the Philippines. But we’re really happy and grateful he made it to the Philippines. If he got stuck in the KKIA for another day, he would’ve probably not make it in the home country because the following day, this happened in the Riyadh Airport:
Well, I just want to share this story with you because you’ll probably have a lot of experiences in bringing home your pets to your home countries. Or vice-versa, if you’re bringing your pets to Riyadh. But no matter, just be patient and forge on. I salute all pet owners and the length they go through for their pets. Likewise, I salute all pets for the positive effects they bring to their owners and their families. Because just look at the ordeal that Shadow went through… while it gave us anxiety and panic attacks, it brought our family closer. Mas gumagamit na kami ng group chat ngayon! Hahaha!
P.S. Thank you to the older bro who supplied information on this step-by-step how-to guide. It’s my first time to chat with him in pure English when he messaged me the steps. Parang s’ya na nagsulat sa Pink Tarha blog. LOL. Thank you to my sibs for the various photos of Shadow that I nicked from our group chat and their Facebook accounts, haha!