#114. Bring a Puppy Through US Customs

Meet Caja!
Meet Caja!

I’m one of those people who’s obsessed with their dog. I snuggle with Patsy every morning, I spoil her with nice scraps of bacon; in return, she pre-washes all my dishes (ok, that’s just me spoiling her again). One time, my vet told me I had to put Patsy on a “bland diet” for a few days. She said I could buy bland food from the vet clinic unless I “really wanted to cook her meals of rice and lean ground turkey.” I really wanted to.

We adopted Patsy from a local rescue organization, Pet Project Rescue. These guys help find homes for dogs and cats in the area. They also do spay & neuter clinics in Mexico (’cause boy, are there a lot of stray dogs there). Often, they arrange for some doggies to head up to Minnesota for adoption. Our Patsy was one of these dogs.

Here’s a photo of her a few days after we brought her home. I know.

This photo is so cute, it almost makes my heart explode.
This photo is so cute, it almost makes my heart explode.

I’ll bet you’re wondering how one brings a puppy from Mexico to the USA. Great question. It’s actually not the complicated thing you’d expect. You need a health certificate, proof of rabies & other vaccinations. The good folks at Delta Airlines are buds with PPR and waive the fee for flying with an animal. It’s all fairly straight forward. The final step is finding people who are already flying from Mexico to Minneapolis… and willing to do it with a puppy under the seat in from of them. Since we love our Patsy, returning the favor for some other lucky Minnesotans would be a pleasure. We volunteered.

On the day Josh and I were departing Cancun, Jeff from Isla Animal Rescue (I dare you to click that link) met us at the airport with a teeny, tiny bag. I could not believe a puppy could hang in a bag that small, but sure enough, Caja fit comfortably. We took her outside and played/snuggled her. She was a hit. Can you even handle these photos?

Can I keep her???
Can I keep her???
Josh's sister Ashley, contemplating if Caja could fit in her backpack.
Josh’s sister Ashley, contemplating if Caja could fit in her backpack.
I think Josh's mom wants another grandpuppy, don't you?
I think Josh’s mom wants another grandpuppy, don’t you?

Once we let Caja do her biz, we zipped her back into the bag (when I say bag, I really mean a soft-sided kennel that’s intended to transport a dog) and got in the security line. I had to take her out and carry her through the metal detector; Awwwwwws immediately ensued.

See that black bag by Josh's left foot? There's a puppy inside!
See that black bag by Josh’s left foot? There’s a puppy inside!

We worried she’d bark or whine or–worst case scenario– get sick and stink up the plane. And speaking of bathroom, Caja did have a piddle pad, just in case. The rescue org told us the dogs are typically exhausted from all of the day’s excitement, and tend to get lulled to sleep by the plane’s constant white noise hum. Puppies: they’re just like us! Thankfully, it worked on Caja, too. She slept from the moment we boarded (expect when I fed her a little turkey from my sammy) until we lined up for customs. Caja was the perfect travel companion.

When we stepped up to the US Customs Officer, she asked all the regular stuff (What were you doing in Mexico?  Escaping Minnesota, duh.), then noticed we’d actually checked the box stating that we were “traveling with a live animal.” She needed to peek into the bag and ensure the puppy looked okay. Personally, I think she needed a short burst of cuteness in an otherwise boring day. We were then free to find our bags & breeze through the rest of customs. It was really that easy, and thank god because Caja’s carrier was lined with Cuban cigars (just kidding, maybe).

Lindsay from PPR met us right outside the gate, where we gave Caja a nice snuggle and slowly… painfully… tearfully… handed her over. I know she’s going to find a Minnesota-nice home (though Caja, on behalf of all Minnesotans, I do apologize for this terrible weather. Really, you get used to it). Caja spent 1 month in quarantine at a foster home to ensure she’s in good health and now…


You know you want to.

I'll give you this pup when you pry it from my cold, dead hands!
I’ll give you this pup when you pry it from my cold, dead hands!

Sign up with your email address to receive news and updates.

I completely respect your privacy.

You might also like

Comments (10)

  • Whitney Smith-Kinnaman 7 years ago Reply

    Bless your heart!!! What a sweet widdle puppy wuppy! I couldn’t help it, those pictures of Caja made me go directly to my dog voice.

    molly mogren 7 years ago Reply

    Ugh, she’s so cute. And I have to be physically restrained from clicking on the link to Isla Animal Rescue.

  • Alyssa Tuma 7 years ago Reply

    Geez… I clicked on the Pet Project Rescue and saw "Lovey" with the Lukas Project (where one adopts dogs at end of their life). And I cried. Can I adopt all the dogs????

    molly mogren 7 years ago Reply

    I KNOW. Alyssa, you in particular need to stay away from that site unless John is okay with another pet. I can’t handle it either!!!!

  • ironkitten 6 years ago Reply

    My best friend adopted Caja, now Lily. She is happy and healthy and loving her life with twin 8-year-olds, a cranky old black kitty, and lots of hugs and kisses. Thank you for bringing her to us!!

    molly mogren katt 6 years ago Reply

    YAY! I am so thrilled to hear that. She was so darn sweet on the plane.

  • Nancy 6 years ago Reply

    I have a Mexican from Pet Project Rescue and thank to your blog all I’ve been doing at work today is looking up Cancun vacations so I can bring back a foster and share the love!

    molly mogren katt 6 years ago Reply

    It is so rewarding! Plus, who wouldn’t want to escape to Mexico from MN right about now?!

  • Jennie 5 years ago Reply

    I remember meeting and seeing you in custom line when you escorted Caja back (in fact, I believe that’s my luggage in the picture above with you and lindsay). And now I’m back on here to look over some of your info so I can prepare myself to escort a puppy back next week! So excited!!!

    molly mogren katt 5 years ago Reply

    Yay! It was truly a great experience, and so low stress. Good luck bringing the puppy to the good ol usa!

Leave a Reply

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.