When the service member gets PCS orders, it affects the whole family–including the four-legged members. Of course, most families plan to bring their pets with them to their new home. However, many military families are surprised by the cost of moving with pets. Currently, the military does not pay for or reimburse any costs associated with the price of PCSing with pets. This sometimes leads to high amounts of re-homing pets around military bases. But don’t despair! If you plan ahead and use these tips, you can help the whole family have a smooth move, even your pets.

The hidden costs of moving with pets

Because the military helps service members with many types of moving expenses, people sometimes assume that the fees for moving with pets will also be covered and reimbursed on a military move. Unfortunately, this is not the case. All pet moving fees must be paid out of pocket, so military families should begin their research early. Determine which of these pet moving fees will apply to you.

Airline tickets for pets: If you have orders overseas, or to Hawaii or Alaska, which count as overseas assignments, it is possible to send your pet on the airlines as cargo. However, depending on the size of your pet and the time of year, cargo space may be limited, and tickets may be expensive. Many families report paying over $1,000 to ship their pet as cargo. If you are lucky, you can grab a free spot for them on the Space A military flights that fly from the United States to those overseas bases. However, these spots are limited and first come, first served, so try to make your reservation early!

Pet Quarantine: Even before the COVID-19 pandemic, pets were required to quarantine before entering some countries or states (like Hawaii). This is done to reduce the risk of an animal bringing diseases or pathogens into a new country. Most locations now require some type of quarantine for both people and pets moving overseas. Talk to your base vet or your overseas sponsor to get updated quarantine details. Quarantine locations are usually near the major airport or port where your pet first arrives, which may not be near your military base. They will need to remain there for 1-2 weeks, depending on local regulations, before you can pick them up or move them to the military base. You will be responsible for their kennel fees during the quarantine period.

Hotel fees for pets: If you’re driving to your next base, it is easier to bring your pets in the car with you. But you will want to ensure that all your hotel reservations are at pet-friendly hotels. This is important to ask when making reservations in temporary lodging in a military inn or lodge on base as well. If your hotel charges additional fees or cleaning charges for pets, these will not necessarily be covered in your travel reimbursement.

The SPCA helps with the cost of moving with pets

It’s important for military families to research and start saving money for pets fees before the move. If you save $100 a month as soon as you get orders, you should have several hundred available to make arrangements for your pet during the move. The sooner you begin, the more you will have saved.

The good news for military families is that the SPCA started Operation Military Pets to help with the cost of moving pets. If your estimated pet expenses will be over $750, you qualify for a grant from the SPCA International. The funds can be used to move pets in domestic or overseas moves, including to Hawaii, Puerto Rico, and Guam. Although grants may not cover the entire cost of relocating your pet, funds will be distributed based on need and availability. Families can apply once they are within three months of their moving date, and they may re-apply once every three years.

Moving with pets can be expensive. Don’t get caught by surprise during your next PCS move. With proper planning and potential help from the SPCA, you will have the funds you need to bring your pets with you to your next home.