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Old 04-28-2018, 06:46 PM   #1 (permalink)
 

puravidapitbull is an unknown quantity at this point
Relocating from Costa Rica to USA with pitbull

Hi. First post. I'm an American expat living in Costa Rica moving back to the USA, and I'm planning on bringing my year and a half old female pit. I'd like to share my experience and ask if anyone else has advice or similar experiences.

We realized the drive from Costa Rica to the USA would take over a week and would pass through Nicaragua, Honduras, El Salvador, Guatemala, and Mexico before we even get to Texas. It's a long drive through some dangerous places, so we decided it would be best to fly, but have had a terrible time finding an airline that does not have a breed specific restriction against carrying pitbulls, including the South and Central American airlines. I don't know why I didn't find it earlier, but it looks like United Airlines flies out of San Jose, Costa Rica SJO and does accept pitbulls. It's $338 fee for 24-33 kg (>50-70 lbs.) A friend warned me that United has the highest percentage of pet deaths while transporting, but I have no idea how true that is. Neither am I sure if it was encouraging to see that United's program to transport pets not in cabin was branded as "PetSafe". Like what happened before to make it so concerning as to need to include safety in the branding of pet transport? Before the pets weren't safe? We only want to transport our baby safely, so we are going to do more research and do everything we can on our end for safety, like crate training and trip preparation for the dog, making sure the crate is not cheap or insecure, and only traveling during perfect weather / temperature conditions. Anyway, we figured it's basically a safer option than driving a week through Central America, and the only other airlines we found were along the lines of Lufthansa, British Airways, and they do not have convenient routes from Costa Rica to USA although maybe they have connecting flights that go through somewhere like NYC or Miami now that I think about it.

The CDC website has information about bringing your dog into the USA here: https://www.cdc.gov/importation/brin...ates/dogs.html It looks like we will need current rabies vaccination documentation, and we plan to travel with all of our pitbull's vet documentation and a letter of recommendation from our vet just in case. Our pit is socialized, friendly, and not aggressive at all, but she is not yet crate trained. We plan to begin crate training soon.

I have heard there is the potential of pet quarantine when we enter the USA. Any information on USA quarantine would be welcome. A lot of the flights I saw entered the USA via the entry port of Houston. So what happens if our pit gets quarantined in Houston? What are the odds and determining factors? How long does she have to stay? Would we have to get a hotel and stay with her while we wait? Days? Weeks? I really have no idea, but I don't think we'll be lucky enough to have our port of entry be the same city as our final destination. I heard a friend of a friend experienced international quarantine, but I haven't caught up to them to ask about it.

I'm also wondering if there is anything I'm forgetting about being a pit owner and taking care of a pit in the USA in general. She is my first dog and I've never owned a dog in the USA. Costa Rica is a country with a very strong dog culture, and there are no breed specific laws that I am aware of and in fact very lax dog laws in general. Most dogs are socialized and do not always need to be kept on a leash. We would let her off the leash nearly every day at the public park to run around with plenty of people around and nobody minded. Even many times while the police where present on foot or horseback and they were fully aware she was a pitbull off her leash and they had no problem with it. I am well aware this is not acceptable behavior in the USA and that she will be expected to be on a leash at all times in public and further that many people have a level of racism / breedism against pitbulls in the USA that is nonexistent in Costa Rica. Dogs have far fewer rights in the USA than in Costa Rica in general, so I'm concerned, but hoping she will be able to cope with the restricted freedom and socialization and adjusting to her new country.

In researching relocation information, I have noticed many breed specific location bans against pitbulls, many apartments don't accept dogs, and further many also have breed specific bans against pitbulls. So I've realized we need to be very careful in selecting our location, and use this website to search municipalities for pit legislation: https://batchgeo.com/map/BreedSpecificLegislation. Will most apartments that accept dogs allow pitbulls or is there a lot of breed specific banning of pits at specific apartment complexes? We can't live in a place with a city or building that bans a part of our family from being there. But what about places near bans? For example Denver has a ban on pitbulls, but many of the suburbs do not. Could we live in the suburb with no breed specific legislation against pibulls and give her a happy life or would people there shun her and hate her just for being a pitbull and make her life miserable?

What about language issues? She's not brilliant, but she has been trained to respond to a short list of commands. But we speak mainly Spanish in the household, so she doesn't respond to "sit", but she responds to "sientense". She doesn't respond to "stay", but she responds to "espera". I've been trying to teach her some English, but it hasn't been a priority and we haven't got much further than "sit", and "paw" because it sounds like "patita". Anyway, I know she will be with us almost all the time, but I'm concerned she might become stressed if strangers are speaking around her or speaking to her in a language she doesn't understand. She has been surrounded by Spanish her whole life. For example, if she goes to doggie school or daycare or something and the teacher and all the other dogs only know English and she's the only one who knows Spanish will that make her scared or sad or something and could become an issue?

I have been living outside the USA for almost 10 years, so I'm not 100% sure how the states will treat our sweet Costa Rican dog. I'm worried about experiencing an unforeseen issue or obstacle with customs and immigration or importation due to her being a pitbull, but we can't bare the thought of parting with her, so we're going to do everything we can to include her safe transport with us to the USA. It's a serious physical and legal process so I'm trying to consider all elements and potential obstacles in advance. Could adjusting to the climate be an issue for her? Costa Rica is pretty comfortable climate wise. Any advice, resources, or tips would be appreciated, and I hope to share my full experience as I go through the process. Anything about international relocation or relocation in general.

Thanks! Pura Vida!
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Old 05-21-2018, 02:00 PM   #2 (permalink)
 

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I wanted to post an update. It looks like United will not accept her in the cargo, so I kept digging for an option. It looks like we could fly direct from San Jose to Toronto on Air Canada shipping the dog as cargo, not to go as excess luggage with a passenger. We would need to purchase a $500 reinforced wood kennel. I'm still waiting on a quote for the shipping cost, but there's more good news. Ontario has a pitbull ban, so even landing in Toronto and then driving to the USA could be difficult. The other option is connecting in Toronto to the USA, but that requires a larger airplane that accepts the wooden kennel as cargo, and the only destination is LAX. I'm hoping we can bring the dog into Toronto and then drive to my parents' house in Detroit. I'm doing research now on the Ontario pitbull ban, I this copy /pasted from the Ontario government website:

What sort of documentation do I need to travel with my pit bull?

The amendments do not deal with customs documentation regarding shipping of dogs to Canada from foreign jurisdictions and dogs that are in transit destined for other countries. The legislation bans pit bulls and their importation into Ontario. It is the responsibility of an owner to show that a pit bull is not being imported into Ontario in contravention of the ban.

So if I understand this correctly, if we provide proper documentation of our trip and show that the dog is not being imported, and we are only in transit to the USA, we could land in Toronto and drive to Detroit and it would not violate the Ontario pitbull ban.
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Old 05-21-2018, 02:09 PM   #3 (permalink)
 

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I guess I'm going to have to look into this more, but it looks like there might be issues with even driving through Ontario.

https://www.thestar.com/news/canada/...re-banned.html
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Old 05-21-2018, 03:08 PM   #4 (permalink)
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If she’s not a papered dog with a pedigree showing her lineage she’s a mix of some sort. The easiest thing to do, which is what all of us with mutts have done at some time or another, is to stop calling her a pit bull and called her mixed breed or some kind of close mixed breed like a boxer mix or bulldog mix or something along those lines.


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Old 05-21-2018, 03:26 PM   #5 (permalink)
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As far as some of your other questions. Finding housing that allows “pit bulls” and associated breeds can be difficult depending on where you’re going. I have three pit mixes and am struggling to find more appropriate housing in the Philly area but there are other places where it is much easier. The Pacific NW and down South it is much easier. I have more difficulty because I have three dogs. A lot of places allow one or two but not three so you will have an easier time of it than I am having. But be prepared for it to be difficult depending on where you’re headed.

As far as the language goes, that’s a non-issue. My dogs were taught commands in a mix of English and French. Police and working dogs are often taught in Dutch. Dogs don’t understand any language. They learn to associate certain sounds with certain behaviors through training but don’t understand the actually language. They more understand inflection and tone of voice and things of that nature but it’s all just sounds to them.

My biggest suggestion is to not call your dog a pit bull if you can. Like I said she’s almost positively a mix of some sort so I would start calling her mixed breed or a mutt (that’s not derogatory that’s just a dog of any mix). See if your vet will provide your paperwork saying mixed breed (mine did without a hesitation) because they are mixed. I have all their paperwork saying mixed breed and many of us do the same thing.

“Pit bulls” have an undeserved bad reputation in the US. You’ll like run into people that will judge, we all have. But you’ll also run into people who will love on your girl as much as you do. Have thick skin and ignore the naysayers, be proactive as far as leash laws and training, and be a responsible owner and you’ll be fine.

Good luck getting her here though. That’s certainly a challenge I don’t envy.


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Old 05-21-2018, 04:12 PM   #6 (permalink)
 
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The issue with shipping the dog is not the breed itself, it's that the airlines believe the muzzle is too short and the safety of the dog becomes a concern. Almost all bull breeds are banned from riding cargo with almost every airline. Best bet will be to contact the concierge desk for the airlines and see how they feel about you purchasing a seat for your dog. Last year there were a few airlines that would allow them to board with their owners and ride as "carry on". I'm not sure how it is now since an "ESD" dog attacked a passenger a few months ago.
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Old 05-21-2018, 06:00 PM   #7 (permalink)
 

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Originally Posted by DynamicDuo View Post
If she’s not a papered dog with a pedigree showing her lineage she’s a mix of some sort. The easiest thing to do, which is what all of us with mutts have done at some time or another, is to stop calling her a pit bull and called her mixed breed or some kind of close mixed breed like a boxer mix or bulldog mix or something along those lines.


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When it comes to referring to the breed, i'm afraid that labeling it a mix does not qualify a dog to pass these sorts of bans. The attorney general of Ontario has a webpage with Information on The Dog Owners' Liability Act and Public Safety Related to Dogs Statute Law Amendment Act, 2005: https://www.attorneygeneral.jus.gov....la-pubsfty.php which includes the following text:

Under the amendments to DOLA, pit bull is defined as:

A pit bull terrier
A Staffordshire bull terrier
An American Staffordshire terrier
An American pit bull terrier
A dog that has an appearance and physical characteristics substantially similar to any of those dogs.

The last item in this group is what presents a problem. I can post a picture of our apbt later, but she looks exactly like a pit, with physical characteristics so significantly resembling an apbt that you couldn't plausibly convince customs officials otherwise.
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Old 05-25-2018, 02:32 AM   #8 (permalink)
 
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Old 05-27-2018, 09:09 PM   #9 (permalink)
 

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The issue with shipping the dog is not the breed itself, it's that the airlines believe the muzzle is too short and the safety of the dog becomes a concern. Almost all bull breeds are banned from riding cargo with almost every airline. Best bet will be to contact the concierge desk for the airlines and see how they feel about you purchasing a seat for your dog. Last year there were a few airlines that would allow them to board with their owners and ride as "carry on". I'm not sure how it is now since an "ESD" dog attacked a passenger a few months ago.
yes short muzzle dogs have a safety concern, but United added a second category to "brachycephalic (or short- or snub-nosed)" dogs and cats, "strong-jawed dog breeds", and a list of breeds they include in these categories.

https://www.united.com/ual/en/us/fly...l#petsafetable

I was able to find out that Air Canada accepts pitbulls in cargo if they fly in a reinforced wooden kennel and quoted around $1500 for San Jose, Costa Rica to Toronto for 89kg volumetric chargeable weight plus $500 for the kennel is $2000. Unfortunately I heard Ontario has a pitbull ban and called Canadian Customs who they said they would check with their supervisor and return my call. A few days later he said called back to confirm that I could not drive out of the airport in Toronto. I could land, pay the $35 fee, and depart for another destination without leaving the airport. The issue is that shipping the dog is not possible on the smaller aircraft, for example from Toronto to Detroit. I could connect in Los Angeles, but I have not yet received a quote for SJO -> LAX. The flight is 23 hours total including an 11 hour layover in Toronto, and I'm not sure how that would work with the dog and customs overnight and I'm not sure if the shipping would be the same price or more. LAX is not my top destination, but destinations closer to Toronto fly on smaller non 767 / 787 aircraft which are too small to hold the reinforced wooden kennel. Right now it looks like SJO -> YYZ -> LAX might be our best cheapest option. around $500 for the flight and $2000 to ship the dog for $2500 total.

An interesting comparison would be buying a $1500 car in Costa Rica, driving 2600 miles to Dallas averaging 26 miles / gallon and 100 gallons of gas for $400 plus $600 for hotel and visas for $2500 total, plus we have a car at the end... The question is can I get a $1500 car to reliably make it 2600 miles through Costa Rica, Nicaragua, Honduras, Guatemala, Mexico, and Texas? Probably not. Dogs need to stop for breaks for bathroom or walking around. Sounds perfect for a road trip through Central America. I wish there was an easier solution.
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Old 05-28-2018, 07:26 PM   #10 (permalink)
 

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I heard through the shipping agent that the Ontario pitbull ban does not apply to my dog, so there is a chance we are able to ship her to Toronto and then drive 4 hours to Michigan. That would still cost $2000, but maybe the best option unless I go with the road trip. If driving I would be willing to take a loss on the car, but the actual car I would buy would be reliable enough to make the trip. Like buying a $5k car and willing to take a $1k loss selling it for $4k after returning to the USA.
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