What’s home without your furry companions? Your PCS to Germany may be stressful, and bringing pets can be another obstacle to overcome. But if you plan ahead, your PCS with pets to Germany can be less of a headache.
How to PCS to Germany with Pets
As of 2020, families PCSing to Germany may only bring two pets, which can either be cats or dogs. No other pet types are currently permitted by the DoD.
While there aren’t any restrictions on cat breeds, there are a few breeds of dogs that cannot enter the country (Category I): Pit Bull Terrier, American Staffordshire Terrier, Staffordshire Bull Terrier, and Bull Terrier. Depending on where you’re stationed, the individual states also have restrictions on dog breeds.
There are other dogs that may be permitted to enter the country (Category II), but they have to pass a temperament test first. If they pass, they will still need to follow some restrictions (more on that in a bit).
And keep in mind that you won’t be reimbursed for any of your pet’s travel costs!
Go to the vet
Once you’ve determined that you can PCS with your pet to Germany, contact your local vet clinic. If your pet isn’t already chipped, you’ll need to do that before updating your pet’s rabies shots. And don’t wait on this! If your pet needs a rabies shot, it has to wait at least 21 days before it can enter the EU.
But that’s not all, folks. Your pet also needs a veterinary health certificate issued within 10 days of departure. As if you don’t already have enough going on.
Ideally, the clinic knows what steps you need to take for a smooth process, but that’s not always the case. Your vet may tell you that you don’t need it, or that they can’t do it. But you need the health certificate, so make the appointment no matter what, even if you have to do it at another clinic!
Contacting the clinic at your future post is a good idea, too. They will be able to prepare you for what to expect once you arrive.
Prepare to travel
You’ll want to buy a crate that fits the requirements for your companion’s weight and measurements. So if your dog is on the borderline of a weight requirement, you may want to keep them on a strict regiment for diet and exercise!
If your dog is over the limit for the crate you own, you may need to rent a crate from the airline or come back with a new one.
And, of course, don’t forget to buy a pet ticket! The Patriot Express charges anywhere between $100 to 400, and private airlines may charge anywhere between $400 to 2,000.
Arriving in Germany with Your Pets
Once you land, you and your pet will be desperate to reunite (and probably have a bathroom break). But you’ll have to pay the fees first.
Before you collect your pets, a vet will inspect them in quarantine. Afterwards, you need to pay a fee up to €200 before you can take your furry friend with you.
Registering your pet
Once you arrive in Germany, you need to register your pet with the veterinary clinic on post within 14 days. If you don’t, you won’t be able to secure government-leased or on-post housing.
Starting a pet sitting service is a great way to make money. Learn more about how to start a business as a spouse in Germany!
If you have a Category II dog, you will also need to register with your local Rathaus (town hall) once you have housing. Plus, they must wear a leash and muzzle in public areas. The municipality may also have a tax on your dog (Hundesteuer).
Additionally, the German government requires that you register your pet with TASSO. Whether you have a cat or a dog, TASSO can help you find your pet in case they get lost!
Adopting a Pet in Germany
Unlike the U.S., Germany doesn’t have many animal shelters, probably because they have such rigorous regulations for owning a pet! They don’t take pet ownership lightly, and neither should you. Be sure to discuss the costs and responsibilities with your family before adopting a new furry member.
And if you decide to purchase a pet from a German breeder, make sure you have a trusted third party translate the contract for you.
You don’t necessarily need a passport for your pet before you PCS to Germany. But if you don’t fly the Patriot Express, some airlines may require it. We recommend contacting your airline to confirm their requirements.
If you plan to travel within the EU with your pet, you will need a pet passport issued by a licensed vet. We recommend contacting your local on-post clinic to find out more information.
Dog Care in Germany
As mentioned previously, the Germans take dog ownership very seriously. For example, while it may be socially unacceptable to leave your pet outside all day in the U.S., it’s against the law in Germany.
And if you leave your dog home alone all day with no one to walk them or play with them, they may develop destructive habits or bark all day. If your dog barks or howls continuously for 10 minutes, it’s considered a noise disturbance. As a result, you could have your dog taken away.
If you bring your dog out in public, they must be well-trained. It’s expected that you wouldn’t bring an untrained dog to a restaurant. If you have any doubt that your dog can’t behave in public, just don’t.
For information on pet sitters and boarding your pet when you travel (because you will definitely travel), the on-post vet is a great place to start. They have information about boarders throughout the area, as well as pet sitters.
And be sure to book your boarders or pet sitters in advance! Like, as soon as you buy those plane tickets for the four-day weekend, book a reservation at a boarding facility.
Wilson’s Hunde Kindergarten Freihung
PCSing to Germany is stressful for everyone in the family. But it may be argued that it’s most stressful for a dog, who has little understanding of the change that’s happening. Henry Wilson of Wilson’s Hunde Kindergarten says “You have to give a dog at least 3 months to adapt.”
*Update: As of August 2020 Wilson’s Hunde Kindergarten has relocated to Hammerleinsmuhle 5 Freihung, 92271.
Wilson’s Hunde Kindergarten offers dog day care Monday through Friday in Freihung. It’s the only certified dog care center in the town, employing staff who have training in dog behavior and pet first aid.
The space allows dogs to play inside and outside with plenty of toys and obstacles. The staff helps the dogs socialize and adapt to their surroundings. For example, they train them not to bark at people or cars going by.
Final Thoughts on Pet Ownership in Germany
When you PCS to Germany, seriously consider what it means to be a pet owner while you’re stationed here. If you’re not sure you can give your pet all the love it needs while you’re stationed in Germany, consider re-homing them with family or friends.
And that goes for buying a pet in Germany, too. If you don’t want to board your pet while you travel, or if you have an irregular schedule, this may not be the best time to introduce a new furry family member.
The rules in Germany are different from the U.S. It can be hard enough for adults and families to adjust to change, but imagine how your pets feel! If you don’t help them adapt, they can develop destructive behaviors.
But there is certainly no doubt how much joy they can bring into our lives!