Getting Griffey into the Kingdom

Getting Griffey into Saudi Arabia took the customs official here about 15 seconds to look at the paperwork.  That was the easy part.  The hard part came the previous 12 days.  So, how do you get a dog into the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia from the United States in 12 days?  Here is how I did it…

I first had to obtain an import permit from the Saudi end of things allowing Griffey into the country.  To do this, I went to a local vet here, who I paid to get this permit for me.  I’m not sure it can even be done without the services of a vet.

Secondly, I had to get my school government relations department to write a letter stating that it was OK for the vet to pick up the import permit for me.  This had to be done on the school letterhead and signed by the head of the GR department.  I also had to sign the letter.

Third, Griffey went to the vet to get a clean bill of health and obtain a vaccination record as well as a international health certificate.  I also needed a regular health certificate to send back to the vet in Saudi Arabia so he could finalize the health certificate.  The vet also ended up writing a “Guard Dog Letter” stating that he was in fact used for personal protection purposes.  This is funny for anyone who has ever met Griffey. Saudi Arabia will only allow certain dogs into the country, and even then they have to be for guard dog, hunting, or seeing eye purposes.

Fourth, after obtaining the international health certificate, it needs to be signed and stamped by the following agencies: United States Department of Agriculture (USDA), United States State Department, and finally the Saudi Arabian consulate in Washington DC.

Here is the hard part.  Airlines only honor an international health certificate for 10 days while countries and other agencies will honor it for 30.  If you can get it stamped by all those agencies in 10 days before your flight date, you are good to go.  Unfortunately, Tennessee does not have all of those agencies in their backyard, so it took me getting creative on how to get them all signed within 10 days.

The USDA stamp can be done in 3 business days counting mailing it up to Nashville and back.  The US State Department takes up to 15 business days while the Saudi consulate… well, that is a whole other story as the “sometimes close down for someone’s birthday” as was told to me.

Here is how I did it.  Dad and I drove to Nashville on the same day when Griffey went to the vet and got his international health certificate by the vet.  We took it to the USDA and got it stamped and FedEx it overnight to the Shady Springs Animal Kennel in Baltimore, Maryland, where we had paid a guy to serve as a courier for us.  The next 3 days, he took it to the State Department and the Saudi consulate and had it mailed back to me overnight.

It all came back on the morning of our flight in time.  Griffey was then checked into live cargo on our plane and rode the whole way.  I next saw him on the side of the baggage claim in the Dammam airport nearly 17 hours later.

If you want the costs for such a process, I can get it for you.  I can also give you the names and numbers and addresses of the specific people who helped me out.  It did cost considerably less than getting him in and out of China, so that is a plus.

Griffey is safe and sound here and enjoying the compound life.