Much as Tom and I enjoy the time we spend on Green Turtle Cay, we suspect our dog, Wrigley, loves it even more.
Though he’s not exactly what you’d call a champion swimmer, Wrigley loves to splash around at the water’s edge, and he’ll gladly swim out to Tom or me for a bit of hot dog before paddling back to the sand. As you can see in the above video, though, his favourite Abaco activity is tearing up and down the beach, grinning ear-to-ear, spraying sand, digging holes and chasing sandpipers and seagulls.
Fortunately for Wrigley, at 14 lbs, he’s small enough to fly with us in-cabin. Fortunately for us, he’s a terrific traveler — far more pleasant and patient during the trip than either Tom or me. In fact, ticket agents, flight attendants and fellow passengers often ask if we’re sure there’s really a dog in his carrier.
Green Turtle Cay is wonderfully dog-friendly. A number of vacation rentals allow pets, and since most restaurants and bars have outdoor patios, Wrigley can go almost everywhere with us.
To bring your dog to the Bahamas, here’s what you need to know:
- You’ll need a pet import permit from the Bahamas Ministry of Agriculture. Just complete an application form and mail it, along with a $10 international money order, to the ministry office in Nassau. It takes 4-6 weeks to receive the permit by post, but if time is short, you can have the document faxed to you for an extra $5. For more info, contact the Ministry of Agriculture at (242) 325-7502 or (242) 325-7509.
- The import permit lists the vaccines your dog will need to enter the Bahamas, and provides a health certificate for your vet to sign. Your dog must have a health exam within 48 hours of departure. (The permit also stipulates that your dog should be checked by a Bahamian vet within 48 hours of entry, but this seems to be done on the honour system, as there’s no mechanism for checking or enforcing this policy…)
- Review the list of required vaccines carefully, since some may not be commonly administered in your area. For example, in Southern California where we live, dogs aren’t normally vaccinated against leptospirosis or coronavirus, so our vet has to special order these shots for us. We usually schedule the vaccines a few weeks prior to travel, so that if Wrigley reacts to any of them, he has time to recover before we leave.
- There are no pet stores in Green Turtle Cay, so bring along whatever food, supplies and medications your dog will need.
- Do not, under any circumstances, rely on airline employees and immigration officers to know their company or country’s pet policies! Having learned this early on, we now travel with a “Wrigley” binder, including printouts of the airline’s pet policies and fees, immigration policies for our destination country (plus U.S. policies for our return trip), Wrigley’s dog license, adoption and microchip documentation, and current vaccination records. I also include a few colour photos of him, in case – God forbid – he’s ever lost.
- Since the nearest veterinarian to Green Turtle Cay is in Marsh Harbour — a 45-minute trip by ferry and taxi — it’s a good idea to brush up on basic pet first aid before your trip, and to jot down contact information for the vets in Marsh Harbour, the Green Turtle Ferry company, and a few taxi drivers, in case you need emergency transport. As we learned first-hand in 2011 when Wrigley went into shock after a nasty spill from a golf cart, a little advance planning can make the difference between an accident and a tragedy.
Finally, I must acknowledge two wonderful websites: Dog Jaunt and Montecristo Travels. Our travels with Wrigley wouldn’t be nearly as simple and stress-free without the terrific guidance and resources we found on these sites.
IMPORTANT UPDATE: August 23, 2014 – The Bahamian Ministry of Agriculture has changed the procedures for importing/exporting dogs to/from the Bahamas. Click here for the updated guidelines and here for additional clarification.