Can I Rescue a Street Dog or Cat and Bring It Home?

Rescue Dog
Photo Credit:

It happens so often. You are traveling on vacation in a foreign country, walking down the street or sitting at a cafe and you spy the beautiful face of a dog or cat looking scared and hungry. It can be an abandoned kitten or a dog that somehow manages to stay alive while living on the street. You cannot help wanting to rescue it, change its life, take it home and love and care for it. But think to yourself, is it really wise to rescue a street dog or cat while on vacation and bring it home?

No one can blame you for how you feel, but one important thing to know is how easy or hard it will be to bring this soul who has stolen your heart home safely and within current laws on pet import to avoid quarantine or refusal at customs and what you should do to prepare them for export.

Health and import regulations for importing a live animal

All countries worldwide base their pet import regulations based on diseases that can be contagious to other animals or humans, particularly rabies. Rabies is a brutal disease that kills nearly 60,000 people a year from bites from dogs, cats, raccoons, foxes, ferrets and other warm-blooded mammals that can carry the rabies virus.

Rabies is not the only concern that countries have when dealing with the import of dogs and cats whose health care history is unknown. Other diseases such as leishmaniasis, ehrlichiosis, and heartworm are issues that animals who live on the streets can be infected with.

Here are some questions to ask yourself before rescuing a dog or cat in a foreign country.

What country are you visiting?

Let’s first consider the country that you are visiting. Many of the most beautiful vacation destinations in the world are classified by the World Organization of Animal Health (OIE) as high-rabies countries as they don’t have structured programs in place to control rabies. Some examples of high-rabies countries are Thailand, Cambodia, Vietnam, India, Indonesia and China.  Depending on your home country, it could take 4 months or more and multiple veterinary visits before bringing your rescued dog or cat home. Click here for countries considered to be high-rabies.

Oftentimes, regulations are less stringent when importing a dog or cat from a rabies-free or rabies-controlled country.

Where is your home?

If you don’t own a pet already, you may not be aware of the requirements that will be imposed on your rescue pet when entering your country.

Here are some examples of pet import regulations when importing a dog or cat from a high-rabies country:

Home Country: European Union Member State

Pet Import Regulations from high-rabies country: microchip, proof of rabies vaccination, 30 day wait after vaccination, rabies titer test (FAVN), 3 calendar month wait before travel, EU health certificate

Pet Import Regulations from other countries: microchip, rabies vaccination, 21 day wait, health certificate or EU Pet Passport

Home Country: United States

Pet Import Regulations (all countries): proof of rabies vaccination administered no sooner than 30 days before travel, health certificate, screwworm inspection (when entering from some countries)

Home Country: Canada

Pet Import Regulations (all countries): proof of current rabies vaccination (no wait after vaccination), health certificate. If imported unaccompanied, microchip, health certificate and import permit

Home Country: South Africa

Pet Import Regulations (all countries): microchip, proof of rabies vaccination (minimum 30 days in advance), blood tests (dogs), import permit, 14 days of quarantine (dogs)

Home Country: Australia

Pet Regulations (all countries): microchip, rabies vaccination, rabies titer test (FAVN) 180 days before import, import permit, blood tests, parasite treatments, health certificate. Pets can be imported directly from approved countries otherwise pets must be moved to an approved country about 6 weeks before import.

No matter what country you are bringing your rescue home to, we would urge you to research current and detailed pet import regulations by clicking here.

You must be able to allot the time involved to meet your home country requirements for pet import. If you cannot do that, then you need to make arrangements for their care and veterinary visits until either you can come back to get them or fly them as unaccompanied air cargo to you. This will take coordination with veterinarians and someone to check your dog or cat in at your airline’s cargo facility.

Is your airline pet friendly?

Another consideration are the airline pet policies you are using to return home. Many airlines do not accept pets for transport such as Ryan Air, Jet Airways and AirAsia. Many other airlines will only transport pets as air cargo through the services of an agent like British Airways and SAS. If your ticket is booked on an airline that does not accept pets, then your pet will need to fly as unaccompanied air cargo which is more expensive than it  would be if you fly with your rescue.

It all sounds daunting, right? Well, actually, it can be. Sometimes, as heat breaking as it is, it is better to try and find an abandoned animal care and adoption organization in the country you are visiting instead of bringing it home. There are rescue organizations in so many countries that may be able to help. Oftentimes pet stores, veterinarians, government agencies responsible for animal control or animal hospitals are aware of rescue organizations in the country you are visiting.

If you rescue a street dog or cat, can you provide for their needs when you get home?

Consider that older dogs that have lived on the street may have issues with confinement, anxiety, shyness and socialization. You should be prepared to deal with these issues. There will also be a huge cultural adaptation for a rescue pet. New environments can bring insecurity issues that will require close monitoring.

Rescuing a puppy or kitten may be easier in that they are still in the learning stage. They have not had as much time to bond with their environment and experience life challenges as an adult dog has. Changing their environment will not be as traumatic for them.

Before falling in love with an abandoned puppy or kitten, consider how difficult (or easy) it would be to rescue a street dog or cat and take it home with you. We would all agree that saving a life is worth every minute and every dollar spent. Dogs and cats (as well as all animals that can be domesticated) deserve a chance to live in a safe and loving environment, and there are a lot of volunteers and organizations who strive towards that goal. You are simply taking part in that effort.


Can I Rescue a Street Dog or Cat and Bring It Home? — 26 Comments

  1. Hi. Me and my partner have found a cat Turkey and fallen in love. How do we go about transporting it to London England?

  2. Its me again
    *Hi there!
    I am currently living in united arab emirates and my home country is india,i will be returning back in few months and i have a stray cat which me nd my sis rescued.She is living with us now.We love her sm and never in my dreams also i wanna leave her So can somebody help me with the information what shld i do,what all are the needs take her back with me.please guys!!*

    I forgot 2 mention that its been 1 year since we took her inn.

  3. Hello Ingrid – all your cat will need to enter Canada is proof of current rabies vaccination. Ask your airline whether a health certificate is required.

  4. Hi , I have a farm cat here in Italy that I want to bring home to Canada with me , my flight leaves from Denmark on December 7 is there a way I could take her this time or should I wait until my next trip and get her vaccinations now instead?
    Thank you

  5. Annia – you will need to have your cat microchipped, then vaccinated for rabies (same vet visit is okay), then wait for 21 days before importing to the UK to avoid quarantine. Your cat will also need an EU Health Certificate issued by a licensed veterinarian in Antigua and endorsed by a government vet. You can import your cat to the UK under quarantine regulations and send us an email at [email protected] if you need more information.

  6. Hi there, I have fallen for a cat in Antigua. And considering to bring him back to London, is there a specific process I need to follow. Iā€™m here for another week. Thank you

  7. Hi
    I just adopt a cat from Iran I want to know how can I bring it to uk I mean what kind of Vacation a d how I can brin them thanks

  8. Matt – dogs and cats can fly as unaccompanied air cargo; however, very likely, an agent in India or Nepal to arrange and book the transport. It is a more expensive class of travel. Any puppy or kitten should not be flown before 15 weeks of age (most airline regulations) because their respiratory systems are not fully developed before then. Also, you need to consider animal welfare regulations and the pup should have a rest stop along the way. Should you decide to fly the pup unaccompanied, then you can search for an agent at To enter Canada, your pup will need to be microchipped, vaccinated for rabies, import permit and a health certificate issued within 36 hours of travel. (

  9. Thanks for the great info Susan, more questions, what if it flys accompanied? What are the requirements then? Is it possible to bring a puppy on a long haul flight? How old should the puppy be?

    Thanks again,


  10. Matt – if your puppy flies unaccompanied, it must fly as air cargo and, very likely, an agent will be required to book the transport. Unaccompanied puppies entering Canada will be deemed commercial and so, must be microchipped, vaccinated for rabies and an import permit must be secured from your local CFIA office. It will also need a health certificate issued in English or French within 36 hours of travel. See regulations here:

  11. One day I’d like to bring a puppy back to Canada from either Northern India or Nepal. What is the shortest time frame possible? What age is the easiest? Just a rabies vaccination? That sounds too easy. Regards Matt

  12. Josefine – in order to import your puppy to the United States, it will need to have a rabies vaccination no sooner than 3 months of age (a vet can determine the age) and wait for 28 days before entering the US. It should be microchipped at the same time as the rabies vaccination and the puppy needs medical care to get it to good health before travel. You will need to provide care for your puppy in Cuba before importing to the US. There are further requirements to import your dog to Denmark. Unfortunately, you can not prepare the puppy to travel with you on such short notice. If you can locate a rescue organization in Cuba, you can discuss options with them. Aniplant is located in Havana and they may be able to assist you. You can reach them at +53 7 8701161. We can provide assistance in Miami. If you can accomplish care in Cuba, send us an email at [email protected] to discuss further.

  13. URGENT!!!

    I found a little puppy in Playa Giron. The mum is dead and he is in bad condition. I am leaving to Miami the 25th of january from Havana. And the 28th from Miami to Copenhagen, Denmark. In Miami I would get treatment for him before leaving to Denmark. I want to bring this little puppy with me back home. The problem is I am arriving in Havana tmr around 8pm and my flight is around 11am the day after. He is facing hunger, he is really thin and needs treatment for ticks. He is missing vitamins and red bloodlegmes – if I look at his eyes. I have washed him and removed all the ticks I could see, I gave him a little food and water.

    What are my options – is it possible to safe him?? He needs me, and I would gladly safe him! But I bet he needs a passport and to see a doctor before.. The wifi in Cuba is soooo bad, so please help me!!

    Best / Josefine

  14. Emily – the process to import a pet from a high rabies country is this: 1. microchip and vaccinated for rabies – dog must be a minimum of 12 weeks of age. 2. wait for 30 days 3. have a vet administer a rabies titer test 4. wait for 3 calendar months before import. ( If you cannot wait that long, perhaps you know someone who could care for your puppy until it meets regulations or a kenneling or rescue facility that may be able to assist. Unfortunately, we do not know of a commercial vessel that will accept pets that sails between Thailand and the EU.

  15. I am in Thailand for 23 more days, then traveling back to The Netherlands. I don?t know if it is even possible to take this pupper home with me within 23 days considering the law. Perhaps I could get around waiting 3 months by perhaps skipping my plane and booking a boat? Is there any way this is possible?

  16. Karolina – you will need to get your dog vaccinated for rabies and wait for 30 days before entering the US. It will also need a screwworm inspection and a health certificate issued by a licensed veterinarian in Peru. Here are the regulations:

    An export permit will be required for dogs and cats departing Peru. You can apply at the airport or at the SENSA office. There is a small fee for this permit.

  17. Hi, I and my partner found a street dog while traveling through Peru, but our “holiday” ending by the end of this month. We are very stressed because we would like to take her with us to USA. Can we do something to be able to take her home with us in 20days?

    Thank you.

  18. MLV – try searching here. There are several other agents who serve Sri Lanka: Know that your pup will need to be chipped, vaccinated for rabies, wait for 30 days, then have a rabies titer test, then wait for 3 months before traveling to Denmark. It must also fly as air cargo which is more expensive than checked baggage. It may pay for you fly with your dog if possible. (don’t know whether you are in Denmark now or still in Sri Lanka) If you need further assistance, send us an email at [email protected].

  19. Hi.

    We really want to adopt a street dog from Sri Lanka to Denmark. Do you know of any companies we can contact, that will do that kind of service? We already contacted petexpress and even though we hate for it to be about the money, they just charge more than we can afford šŸ™

    Kind regards

  20. William – there are several reasons that would explain the difference between your quotes. Pet transporters provide a variety of services including vet visits, doc prep, endorsement, routing and booking, crate provision, pick-up, check-in and arrangements for an agent at the destination airport. As all live animals must arrive in the UK as air cargo, that portion of the quote should have been about the same unless the transporter quoted charges from a different airline. Most transporters will provide a breakdown of their charges, so, for those reading this post, do not hesitate to ask if you feel you are being overcharged.

  21. Hi. We were quoted ?7,000 by Pet Express Sri Lanka. However we got in touch with a charity who got our dog to Edinburgh for ?1,820 in total for everything from vaccinations to transport.

  22. Rescue & Adopt a Street Dog from Sri Lanka

    If you find a street dog / cat in Sri Lanka and you wish to adopt; we at Pet Express can assist you. We can certainly handle the complete process and relocate the rescued dog / puppy safely to your country.

    We will immediately provide required veterinary attention, microchip the puppy / cat and give the required vaccines. Furthermore, if any blood tests are required we will get these done as well. The rescue dogs / cats could be boarded in our facility until they are ready to travel.

    Our team is persistent in our efforts of adoption and re-homing, sterilization, vaccination, saving the injured, education and awareness programmes and arranging overseas adoption for homeless stray dogs and cats in Sri Lanka.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published.