Airport Pickup – Long or International Flight Considerations (8 to 10 hour flights)

Picking up a dog after they undergo a long journey has a lot of factors to consider, so make sure you go prepared. These loving and hopeful souls are getting a second chance at a new life and you’re doing them a great service by helping them on the last part of their journey.

What to expect:

Try to get to the airport ahead of schedule so you can scope the area out (where to pick-up the animals, where your secondary location will be, etc). Also, keep in mind that the flight volunteer may not clear customs for 1-2 hours, so find a good spot to wait it out until you hear from the volunteer.

Once the volunteer has cleared customs, they will meet you at the arrivals curbside with the crated animal(s). Typically a porter helps them bring the crate(s) out, so make sure you have cash in order to tip them for their services.

I recommend at this point loading the crates into the car and going to your secondary location where you can properly tend to the animals.

Some more tips:

1.       Bring a lot of water and food.

  • These dogs have been stuck in a crate for 10+ hours and they usually will run out of water long before they reach the states. They also have to get through customs, which means more waiting. It’s summertime and while they won’t overheat because they’re tended to, it’s still very warm. Trust me, they’re going to drink a lot of water.

2.       Bring baby wipes, paper towels, Clorox wipes, and a garbage sack.

  • Again, these dogs have been in their crates for around 10+ hours, so there may be feces and urine to deal with. Baby wipes for the dogs, Clorox wipes for the crate.

3.       Make sure your car can handle more than one dog if you’re picking up multiples.

  • Find out what sizes the crates are ahead of time and make sure that they fit into your car. You want to make sure the dogs are crated during the car ride because they will be very anxious, tired, and possibly showing signs of trauma after their long journey. It is also unknown how the dogs will interact with one another, so be sure to keep them separated until you know for sure.

4.       Manpower.

  • If you’re picking up more than one dog, you need at least two people. It’s can be a daunting task alone unless both dogs are on the smaller side.

5.       Bring tools; a leatherman, pocket knife, screw driver, and pocket wrench. 

  • The crates are covered in netting, tape, and zip ties. You’re going to need to cut through multiple layers of material in order to open them.
  • In the event you need to break the crate down, you’ll need a screw driver and possibly a wrench. These crates are oftentimes bolted and/or screwed closed.

6.       Have a game plan ahead of time.

  • Drive through the arrivals area ahead of time so you know what to expect and where to look for your new furry passengers.
  • Scout out a secondary location by the airport where you can immediately take the dogs after you pick them up. Somewhere grassy and away from traffic where they can feel comfortable to safely relieve themselves. This is also a good time for them to drink water and hydrate.

7.       Bring leashes.

  • They’re not going to come with leashes, so you’re going to need a leash in order take them out safely.
  • Most of the time their collars are crudely fashioned out of belts or some other material, so PLEASE, make sure their collars are secure so they can’t slip away accidentally.

8.       Prepare yourself for them to run out of the crate.

  • This is especially true for larger dogs. Block the crate and make sure they’re securely leashed before you allow them out.

9.       Bring treats.

  • There are many treats are the market that provide a calming effect. These are good for calming frayed nerves after such a long journey. They also act as a peace offering when reaching into the crate to leash them for the first time.

10.   Wear clothes you don’t mind getting dirty.

  • Because you will.