People are sometimes surprised when they find out just how many pet relocation companies exist worldwide. In actuality, there are hundreds of companies that PetRelocation works with to provide incredible experiences for pets moving around the globe. The International Pet and Animal Transportation Association, or IPATA, is a trade association dedicated to helping pet relocation companies gather to improve their knowledge, build strong alliances, and achieve common goals. In addition to hosting annual conferences, regional meetings are organized to help focus on issues and goals of a common region.
A few weeks ago, I had the pleasure of attending the IPATA Latin American Regional Meeting held in Lima, Peru. In addition to being interested in learning more about the needs of the growing group of pet owners in Latin America, I also serve as IPATA's Assistant Regional Director of the Americas and had been asked to speak on the topic of humanization, or the trend of people seeing pets as members of the family.
If you're going to Peru, you've got to go to Machu Picchu, so the first few days saw our group exploring the Cuzco area of Peru and hiking up to one of the greatest wonders of the world. Being a pet-focused group, one day we visited the Ccochahuasi Animal Sanctuary where we were treated to an up-close viewing of the Andean condor, the endangered national bird of Peru. We also got our first look at the Peruvian Hairless Dog, also known as the Peruvian Inca Orchid. I had heard of these dogs prior to my trip, but what I didn't know was that Inca Orchids hold a special cultural designation that requires them to go through a different export process than most pets when being exported from Peru.
A Peruvian Hairless Dog at the Ccochahuasi Animal Sanctuary
After our visit to Machu Picchu, the conference got into full swing in Lima. After an announcement from Jack Russo, Director of the Americas for IPATA and owner of Bobbi's World Kennels, as well as an update from our incoming IPATA Present Derek Huntington from Capital Pet Movers, we heard from local airline representatives from LAN Airlines, Copa Airlines, Air Canada, and Lufthansa about their service offerings in and out of Latin America. We also were honored to have Dr. Patricia Caldas, one of the head import/export authorities at Servicio Nacional de Sanidad Agraria del Perú (SENASA), which overseas all pets arriving to or departing from Peru. One interesting fact is that Peru only sees "pets" (in Spanish, "mascotas") as dogs and cats. Any other pets (birds, lizards, etc.) will have to arrive as a commercial import/export and require additional paperwork.
From L-R: Dra. Patricia Caldas, SENASA, Melissa Vasquez Sansores, Pet Air Mexico; Melisa Irrivari Oliveri, PetWings Peru; Jack Russo, Bobbi's World Kennels; Luz Maria Farias, LATAM Pet Transport - Chile; Kaesy Batista, Canal Movers & Logistics - Panama; Patricia Gil, LATAM Pet Transport - Peru
Pet shippers were also trained on pet emergency CPR as well as the Heimlich maneuver and other first aid best practices -- an important but sometimes overlooked element of training for any pet handler -- by Dra. Melissa Grisolle of PetWings, who is a pathologist, veterinarian and pet relocation provider in Peru. In addition to this, we heard a great talk from Melisa Vasquez Sansores at Pet Air Mexico on the special handling of brachycephalic (or snub-nosed) breeds.
In addition to these talks, we spent some time as a group identifying three year goals for the Latin American region. One area where we hope to make progress over the next three years is forming stronger relationships with Latin American governments. We would like to see it take less time to clear pets through customs, as anyone who has cleared a pet through customs south of the equator will tell you that it can take anywhere from up to 8 hours or more. While other countries have moved toward allowing pets to be pre-cleared through electronic documents, thus reducing the time the pet is left waiting in his crate after a long flight, Latin American countries have been slower to adopt this practice. Members of the IPATA Latin American region hope to change this over then
Attendees visiting PatoVet and Petwings in Lima
At the end of the meeting, we loaded up on a tour bus and shuttled to PatoVet, the vet clinic of Dra. Grisolle. There we were treated to a demonstration on handling aggressive as well as timid dogs by Tim Cruser of Come Sit Stay Pet Resort. In addition to having an excellent pet resort outside of Denver, Colorado, Tim is also an experienced dog trainer, having trained protection animals and working dogs for 30 years. We were taught best practices in crate training as well as how to properly load and unload pets from crates.
It's always great to meet up with fellow IPATA members and share stories and learnings from our pet shipping experiences. These types of meetings are critical to the further development and improvement of the pet relocation industry, which makes up the steadily growing pet services industry. Thanks to the Latin American members for hosting such a great meeting!