Transporting pets adopted in Spain to the UK – (part one)


Transporting pets adopted in Spain to the UK – (part one)

For many an expat, living in Spain is difficult. In some cases they find themselves stuck in a country with a high unemployment rate, trapped by negative equity and a poor exchange rate.

All across Spain expat pensioners are struggling to make ends meet while working-age expats are finding it hard to secure a job.

The popular media have commonly dubbed expats in Spain as ‘Living the Dream’, often accompany articles with photos of carefree retirees happily walking along the beach hand on hand, or enjoying a glass of wine and some tapas while the sun sets.

But what may have started as a dream has turned into a nightmare for many, and in 2013 this situation could well worsen as Spain continues to struggle against the ongoing threat of an EU bailout, and the resultant loss of control of its own destiny.

Spain’s budget for 2013 anticipates that the Treasury will have to issue 207.2€ billion in gross debt in 2013, almost all through bonds and bills, to cover debt repayments and new financing needs. With yields having reached as high as 7% in 2012, a 100€ billion rescue loan already in place for the Spanish banks, unemployment at 25% and an economy expected to shrink by 1.5% this year it is hard to find much to be optimistic about for expats living in Spain.

But for those in a position where they can return to the UK there is often an additional concern – what to do with their adopted dog.

It used to be a bit of a joke that an expat was seen to have really settled in Spain when they adopted one of the many abandoned and abused street dogs, a sorry by product of a not so positive side of Spanish culture.

I wish I had a € for every expat that has ended up taking a dog home with them from a bar or cafe. Expats with no thoughts of returning home to the UK at the time acquiring a sort of a badge, a statement of having settled in Spain, acknowledging their commitment to making the country their home.

But this generous and well intended act can lead to complications further down the line.

Fast forward a couple of years and these same dogs are once again at risk of being abandoned as their owners realise that taking these adopted pets back to the UK with them will require a passport, microchip, rabies vaccination, and other things besides.

Faced with the costs and stress of returning home, many to rented accommodation or to live with family where a dog just isn’t allowed, what to do with their dog becomes a real issue.

Those who would be able to offer the dog a home in the UK may find that the costs of getting its passport sorted out are just too prohibitive, especially with the recent increase in IVA from 8% to 21% that vets are now forced to charge.

But there are companies out there who can help, companies like ALStrays Transport.

Throughout 2012 ALStrays Transport saw a significant increase in bookings for people returning to the UK and taking their dog with them. In the majority of cases the dog returned at the same time as the expat, often before, being sent ahead to stay with family until the owners could settle their affairs and follow on. In some cases though we have taken dogs over to be reunited with owners months, and in one case a year and a half, after being left behind with friends or rescue homes in Spain.

Over the last three months of 2012 we saw another trend emerging: the number of Brits that came over to Spain to stay with friends or in rented accommodation, befriended a stray, fed it, left money for its sterilisation and upon their return to the UK made the decision to adopt the animal.

Whiskey is one dog we transported recently. Michael Ryan and his wife fell in love with the little fella on a visit and arranged to have him transported to the UK. As Michael says:

“Our first meeting was mutual attraction and the grand plan was hatched to get Whiskey to the UK. I will not forget his fresh little face when you opened the van doors. On the road for two days, you would not have thought two hours! Once I got him home he met our 3 year old retriever, there was a little posturing, a little marking of territory, a couple of spats but now they are inseparable. In fact in only one week Sam has become very protective of Whiskey. The foul English weather came as a bit of a shock to the little fella but this is not a bad thing. I think any thoughts of him running off back to Spain have been dispelled. He has already established a routine with us and our other dogs. He recently walked 9 miles and never put a paw wrong! These ‘strays’ are certainly plucky and resourceful and somehow give an extra dimension to the ownership experience. It is amazing! Their capacity to show their affection and happiness is all the more enhanced by their sometimes unhappy backgrounds.”

Stay tuned for part two of our guest post regarding transporting adopted pets to the UK!

Chris Marshall
This post was written by
Chris has lived and worked in the UK, USA and Spain before settling down in Almerimar, Spain in 2003, where he spends his time time running Almerimar Life, writing on a freelance basis for a number of papers and clients blogs, broadcasting regularly on a number of radio stations and along Sands running ALStrays - a cat re-homing and transport project he set up with his wife, which also transports dogs to the UK and throughout Europe