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Driving to another state with a dog

This is a follow-up to yesterday’s post about U.S. airlines’ requirements for health certificates. That post was about flying from one state to another; this post is about driving across state lines.

Officially, the rules are the same, except that the airlines’ requirements don’t enter the picture. Officially, you need to research the rules each state has promulgated about the timing of rabies vaccinations, whether a health certificate is required, and when the certificate has to be issued. And once again, the safest solution is to vaccinate your dog for rabies at 12 weeks, get a health certificate whenever you drive out of state with your dog, and make sure it’s dated within 10 days of your travel.

On the other hand, I’ve never been stopped at a state border, and no one I know or know of has ever been stopped at a state border. Practically speaking, you probably don’t need a health certificate from your vet to go on a roadtrip with your dog. The only time I can envision it being a problem is if you were pulled over or arrested for some other reason — the law enforcement person handling you might well choose to add your failure to have a valid Certificate of Veterinary Inspection to your other infractions (and if they’re really feeling stern, they might seize your pet).

If we were driving with Chloe from Seattle to eastern Oregon to visit my uncle, would I get a health certificate? Nope. I would, however, make sure I had in hand copies of Chloe’s current proof of rabies vaccination and of her up-to-date shot record. They’re necessary in too many situations to leave them behind — some hotels require proof of vaccination, for example, and day kennels certainly do.

If you want to dot your i’s and cross your t’s, however, the resource you’ll need is USDA APHIS’s handy link to each state’s import regulations.