Moving with pets to Beijing, China!
* How was your experience finding pet care in your new country? Did you have a hard time finding a vet?
When I was working on finding my housing, I did the following two things:
(1) I asked the Housing Relocation company that we were using to obtain a listing of vets for me, their phone numbers, addresses and the distance from my house.
(2) I asked every new person I met during my first few weeks in the country if they had a pet and what vet they used. I found that the personal experience from neighbors and work associates was much more insightful since it was based upon personal experience. They were able to quickly educate me on what to expect and how to manage the relationship with the vet. I learned that I needed to closely manage the needs of my cats in relation to vaccines and health checks and that I should not expect the vet to keep track of this or to notify me when I needed to schedule a check-up. This is very different then my experiences in the US and Canada so it was helpful to learn this before I made a mistake in managing my cats health.
* How do you get pet food, medicine, etc.? Any other suggestions, good finds or other pet friendly places you have found?
-- Aside from asking about appropriate vet coverage from the relocation company and neighbors, I also asked where they bought their pet supplies. I found in Beijing, that most of the vets also sold numerous pet supplies as well as grooming services. I could not find the brand of cat litter that I used at home but was able to get several recommendations from neighbors on what they were using and had no issues. I also found that I could get the same brand of cat food (Hill's) but that is was extremely expensive, often past it's expiration date and wasn't always available. As a result, I asked for a recommendation from the local vet of a brand of food that was readily available in China and good quality. I then weened the cats to the new food and now have a much easier time since I can readily find the food at many different vets and don't have to pay as much money!
* How was your pet(s) reaction to the new environment? Do they seem to enjoy their new surroundings?
I relocated two cats to China which was a very long trip with a few weeks separation due to our housing arrangements. However, they arrived safely and quickly adjusted to their new home with absolutely no issues. To be honest, I am totally surprised that they adjusted so quickly. They have even accepted our housekeeper as one of their own. They actually greet her each morning! I would recommend that you verify with any domestic help that they like pets. Unfortunately I have found out that my Chinese teacher is terrified of cats and will not come into the house until the are out of the way!
* What's your favorite local hotspot that you've discovered? A good restaurant, a beautiful overlook, a great dog park? We'd like to hear about it.
---The Great Wall of China is an absolutely amazing achievement and the outskirts of Beijing provide many locations for visiting different parts of the wall.
* What are some things you miss the most about where you came from/the US? Do you miss a certain type of food or activity that you could only do here?
---The thing we most most about the US is being able to see blue skies. The smog coverage over Beijing is so heavy that we rarely are presented with blue skies.
* Have you found any good options locally for boarding your pets?
---We have not boarded our cats and probably will not based upon feeback we have received from people living in the area. However, our housekeeper has watched the cats on a few occasions. While we were away, she comes over to visit the cats, change the litter and provide fresh food and water.
* If you had to relocate your pet(s) all over again, what would you do differently?
---My cats were delayed in arriving in China for several weeks due to an oversight bt my US vet. The office managers and the vets were not aware of the FDA certification requirements associated with moving to China nor did they realize that they no longer had an FDA certified vet on staff. However, we did not discover this until I had already left the country and the cats were in their care. Fortunately for me, PetRelocation.com is managed my professionals who really care for their furry clients and they helped me solve my problem. They actually orchestrated getting my cats to a different vet who was certified and were able to finalize all of the necessary paperwork. In the end, the cats arrived safely and PetRelocation.com made it very easy for me.
* How long do you plan to stay in your new country? Do you plan to return to your country of origin, or do you have plans to move on to another location?
----We will probably be in China for two years and will more than likely return to the United States at the end of the assignment.
* Any other suggestions or helpful tips for pet owners living in your new country?
---Beijing has very strict laws about dogs that pertain to the number of dogs you can have and the actual size of the dog. They even go as far to determine where you can live if you have a dog over a certain size. I would recommend that anyone bringing a large dog into Beijing research the unique laws to ensure they fully understand the current environment.
In addition, I would recommend that anyone relocating to a foreign country begin the planning process as soon as possible to ensure the appropriate time has passed for vaccinations. I ran into another logistical issue related to how old the rabies vaccine needed to be prior to entrance into China. As a result, the cats could not depart on the same travel date as our family. It is very important that your vet review your pets immunization records and compare them to the entrance requirements of the new country.
Thanks for your great answers, I know our readers appreicate your insight!