Taking the hassle out of pet travel

  • Dog days: border collie Scooby is enjoying his new life in Bermuda with owner Thomas Godfrey (Photograph supplied)

    Dog days: border collie Scooby is enjoying his new life in Bermuda with owner Thomas Godfrey (Photograph supplied)


Flying a pet 3,447 miles from London to Bermuda can be a huge hassle. There is reams of paperwork to fill out, and vet checks to complete. And then there’s just getting the pet to the airport, and onto a plane.

Fetchapet, a pet shipping company in Colchester, Essex will handle all the stress for you.

The company, 90 minutes out of London, has been shipping four to five pets to Bermuda on a monthly basis. They even have a Bermuda targeted website.

Founder Rachel Davis, worked in the pet travelling industry for 30 years before forming Fetchapet in 2015, with Emma Went and Jeremy Parish.

“We are a very small, family run company,” said Ms Went, the shipping manager. “We operate out of a colleague’s house.”

They ship a few pets for people relocating to the island, but the majority of their work is with puppies purchased from UK breeders.

“We know it is difficult for people to source puppies on island, and importation from the United States is quite difficult because puppies have to be older to be brought into Bermuda,” Ms Went said.

But Ms Went is quick to say Fetchapet sends pets to individual households, not to pet stores.

“We are keen to support responsible ownership,” she said. “We work with people who have sourced their pets from reputable breeders.”

She said Fetchapet has worked with people in Bermuda since its beginnings.

“People in Bermuda seem to recommend us a lot,” she said.

The pets come in on the British Airways flight, direct from Gatwick Airport.

Ms Went said one of her biggest challenges is the logistical work with the airlines.

“It is always tricky to make sure we can get the puppies on the flight and make sure they arrive during the weekday, so their owners can collect them right away,” she said. “They have to be pre-cleared by customs before they arrive. There is a customs broker on the island. There are always lots of bits of paperwork that have to be tied together.”

They work with a government-accredited vet in Colchester to make sure the puppies are fit to fly.

“Then when that is done, we have to talk to a woman at the Department of Environmental Protection in Bermuda to get an import permit issued,” she said. “She is always very helpful.”

Ms Went said she loves animals and often brings her own working cocker spaniel to work. Her dog loves to play with the puppies awaiting their flight.

“When they reach us, we don’t put them in kennels out back,” she said. “We put them in a puppy pen in the office and they are around us all day. The flight can be stressful enough for them. We have a little one here at the moment, a labradoodle puppy, who is leaving for Bermuda on Thursday’s flight.”

Breeds with flat faces like pugs and bulldogs can be trickier to ship, because their narrow nostrils and windpipes, make them more susceptible to air quality and temperature changes that may be encountered during air travel.

“British Airways will not carry them on their flights,” Ms Went said. “For these breeds, we use an alternative route via New York. Jonathan Nisbett, the government veterinarian, grants us permission to use this route providing strict conditions are adhered to, such as ensuring the puppy stays under quarantine conditions whilst in the US, and does not come into contact with any other dogs.

“Heat restrictions apply to these breeds during the summer months, meaning it is currently only possible for us to send bulldogs and pugs into Bermuda during the winter months.”

The staff at Fetchapet love getting updates from their clients.

“Lots of people have waited a long time to get these puppies,” Ms Went said. “They spent a long time finding the right breeder, and then the puppy had to be old enough to travel. We speak to clients all throughout that time, so we have known them for many weeks, once the puppies reach us. We know how happy they are to finally get their pup. That is the best part of this, seeing the end result.”

Ms Went said she’d love to one day visit Bermuda, but hasn’t got around to it yet.

The cost of the service depends on the size of the puppy. Small breeds start around £900, with the price going up the larger the dog is. A Labrador sized puppy, for example, would be in the region of £1,500, and a very large breed puppy such as a Great Dane would be closer to £2,000.

For more information see www.fetchapet.co.uk/pet-export/bermuda.html

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Published May 2, 2019 at 8:00 am (Updated May 2, 2019 at 12:15 am)

Taking the hassle out of pet travel

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