Air Madagascar, more like Air Inefficiency: Parasy’s Journey of to America

For most of my readers, you already know I adopted a dog in Madagascar within my first week at site. I wrote a previous blog about it, telling the story of Parasy: where I found her, how I nursed her back to health, and decided she had to come home for me. I reached out to the masses to fundraise money to bring her back to me. At the time of writing the blog, all I was thinking was the possibility that I might have to leave her here in Madagascar. I honestly didn’t think it would cause the backlash it did. But it did. There became a divide between the volunteers on the island–those who were vocally against me publicly asking for money, and those who while they may not have agreed with my decision, supported that is was my and only my choice. There were times I contemplated just giving into peer pressure and not taking her home with me…but I just couldn’t. And so the time-consuming period began of prepping my little girl to fly out.

Prepping Parasy involved three different trips to the capital, 8 hours from my village for a wide variety of things. She needed vaccinations, blood drawn for tests, deworming pills, and health inspections. I learned just prior to her first appointment, public buses do not allow dogs in their cars. No matter how much I offered in bribes, they didn’t budge. “No your dog is going to bite us,” “she’s mean,” “she has fleas,” were the typical responses, or more like excuses. Parasy was none of those. I even offered putting my dog in a crate strapped to the top of the taxi. I know, horrible thought, but I didn’t know what else to do. Same answer.

In the end, I needed to rent out a private car. It was an expensive expense that I was trying really hard to have to not pay for, but again, Parasy is worth every penny. It ended up actually being a very good thing I had a private car. Very quickly, I learned Parasy does not do well with traveling. It was like a rolling cycle of vomiting. Like clockwork, almost every 20 to 30 kilometers, she was throwing up. Let me add as well, it’s really hard to get a dog to throw up into a plastic bag. She saw that bag come out, and she skattered away.

Ten days before her flight, or what I wanted to be her flight, Parasy made her final trip to the capital. I had tried previously to book a flight for Parasy in the cargo hold and was told that flights aren’t booked for animals but rather, you show up the day you want your dog to depart and they place the dog onto the plane. Right?! I know what you’re thinking. My PetRelocation contact thought it was absurd as well. I knew I wanted Parasy to fly out on the 25th, one month before my expected departure from Madagascar, and before things started getting crazy as I packed up and gave away stuff that I had accumulated during the last two years. With that intention, I made the journey with her to see if I could make any progress for a flight reservation.

The week of Parasy’s departure, I made four trips to the airport for paperwork. For comparison, where I was staying and where the airport is the same as driving from LAX to Newport Beach. Each time I went, at the end I was told the next time would be the last. Low and behold, I kept having to make trips to the airport. First to make an unofficial reservation, to return the next to day to pay, but then told that I needed to bring my dog to pay. I then returned with my dog, having to smuggle her in a taxi because taxis aren’t allowed to transport dogs. I pretended to be a Norwegian tourist who could speak an ounce of English, Malagasy, or French in case we got stopped because Parasy was whining in the back, not liking being hidden in a box.

I thought we were home free until a few days before her departure, I noticed two large bumps on her back. After an emergency visit to the clinic, even the vets were confused what was going on. The best they could do was think that she had a skin infection as a reaction from a shot, most likely from the birth control shots she received quarterly. She was given antibiotics and I was given strict instructions to prevent her from scratching or biting at the spots. I yelled at Parasy out of love because I wanted her to be cleared for travel. I wanted her to get to America. Parasy saw it as mom punishing her for everything. Sorry sweetie! It was love!

When I passed off Parasy to the cargo workers at Air Madagascar at 3am, a wave of relief passed over me. I did it. After all the hard work, the round about ways the Malagasy people and bureaucracy works, I had succeeded. I crawled back into bed to sleep a little before her flight arrived in Johannesburg, happy that it had all worked out. *ring ring* Parasy has arrived in Johannesburg without any documentation (export permit, health permit, vaccinations form, Rabies Titers results, etc). There was no paperwork saying whatsoever this dog was cleared to leave Madagascar and travel anywhere else. Parasy would be placed into holding.

I traveled as fast to the airport as I could to see where the paperwork had gone. I had handed them off to the workers; they stated they would stick them onto the crate as soon as Parasy was in the holding area. I got passed from one worker to the next, having to explain my story over and over again. A hard feat in Malagasy. Dog. Arrived in Johannesburg. No paperwork. Where is it? Gave it to worker this morning. Yes! She left this morning. I finally made up to the Director of Fret’s office, who “kindly” informed me that documents are never affixed into a crate, but rather given from one worker to the next. Sounds real efficient right? After realizing I would get no where with the airport and that the airport was trying to blame me for their downfalls, I resorted to taking photos of everything that I had to email over to the agent in South Africa to see if that could get her through the red tape. Very few scanners here.

It took Parasy five hours to get through customs, but she finally did. The rest of her trip went smoothly, arriving in Los Angeles, almost 38 hours later. My best friend picked her up at the airport and she is currently enjoying her first few days in America.

Huge thank you to PetRelocation who assisted me in moving my dog from Madagascar. They dealt with nonsense emails filled with stupid questions about moving animals. They dealt with late responses because I sometimes didn’t have internet access. They were always patient withe, regardless of what was going on. If I ever have to move Parasy again, they will be the company I will use.

Also thanks to everyone that donated to help me get her home. I raised nearly half of what was needed to get her there. What happened with the rest? Well the Amex got some action for the first time in over two years, and let’s just say they’ll be happy to be accepting the interest for the next year(ish). But without the people who graciously donated to me in the first place, I wouldn’t have been able to do this. And for that I am thankful to each and every one of you. It means the world to me.

Skyping with Parasy from Madagascar. She recognized my voice…but where is it coming from?

One of her first photos in America. All smiles to be off the plane.