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About being a Flight Escort

Are you interested in helping get a rescued dog to their adoptive family in Canada or the US? This is our step by step guide to what's involved. 

Being a volunteer Flight Escort for a rescue dog means escorting the dog and presenting the necessary papers to enable them to travel with you from Mexico to Canada/USA. The role is often called a Flight Angel, because your help gives rescued dogs the miracle of a new life with a loving family.  

Step 1: Is this for you?

Are you?

Planning to fly from Oaxaca to Canada or the US? This could be from Oaxaca de Juarez (OAX), Puerto Escondido (PXM), Huatulco (HUX) or even Mexico City (MEX)

OK to commit to this as a voluntary service? There's no payment for you - nor is there any cost.

Able to arrive for check-in 3 hours before departure and spend a little extra time at your destination airport to handover the dog to the adopter?

Willing to be named on the paperwork as the dog's owner until the adopters receive the dog?

Step 2: Sign up

If you can say yes to all of the above and you're happy you know what you're signing up for - please go ahead and complete the sign up form.

Step 3: We do the paperwork

Once we have your confirmed flight details, we will post the Flight Escort opportunity with our rescue partners throughout the state of Oaxaca. Ideally someone has a dog ready to go with an already waiting adopter in your flight destination, if not we search for one.


Once we have a 'match', we organize all paperwork including the dog’s health check and vaccinations and their flight ticket.  

 

To avoid unnecessary paperwork and tax costs we go the simplest route and use the Personal Pet paperwork. You represent the dog as their ‘owner’ on the paperwork and the dog as your ‘personal pet’. This is only for the flight and once at your destination and out of customs the Adopters will be eagerly awaiting you and their dog. They will soon after register themselves as ‘owner' on the dog’s new health paperwork. The travel paperwork you used then becomes redundant.

At the right time, we'll usually create a WhatsApp group for you, the Dog Rescuer and the Adopter so you'll stay fully informed. Wherever possible, you are very welcome to meet with the dog prior to the flight.

Step 4: Getting to the airport and checking in

We either drive you to the airport with the dog or meet you there with the dog. We ask you to be at the airport 3 hours before departure to ensure there is enough time for check-in.

We stay with you through the process of checking the dog and yourself in. It’s similar to normal check-in, with the dog as an oversized special piece of luggage to check-in. Some airlines have a special counter.

The dog will already have a ticket paid for connected to your flight so check-in doesn’t take too long. Once all checked-in, the dog is secured in their crate and sent to luggage, we say farewell and you go through security normally and head to your gate.


Once boarded on the plane we ask that you check with a flight attendant to confirm the
dog is on the plane too. Then your flight is normal. If you have a connection the dog will be transferred by the airline with your luggage.

Step 5: Collect the dog & go through customs

Once landed in your destination you collect the dog in their crate nearby where you collect your luggage.

You represent the dog as their ‘owner’ and show their paperwork at customs. Basically you claim ‘a live animal/personal pet’ so you have to go to a special customs desk. This part can take anywhere from an extra 20-40 minutes depending on the customs line. We are here to support you through all the steps so if you’re unsure of something just call us. The paperwork is very clear and well written so usually there aren’t many questions for you to answer.

Step 6: The best bit! Meeting the adopter

You exit with your luggage and the dog in their crate and meet the adopting family in the airport terminal. You will already be in touch on the WhatsApp group we created and we'll help you coordinate a meeting spot. The Adopters then take their dog to its new home along with all the paperwork, and that’s it!

 

You have just done an amazing thing and brought this dog to their forever home.

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What we provide on the day

Someone from ODTF at the airport with you to support you with the check-in process

An ITA approved travel crate with a pee pad inside

Two copies of the dog's travel ID - one will be fixed to the outside of the crate, the other is for you to keep with you 

Certificate of Health and vaccination (plus copies)

The dog's vaccination booklet (plus copies)

A print out of confirmation of the dog’s ticket for the flight (plus copies)

You’ll already be in a WhatsApp group with the Adopter, the Rescuer and us, so you’ll always have someone to contact for help

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Next steps

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Submit your details and sign up as a Flight Escort.

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Read our story and find out more about our project here in Oaxaca.

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Join our community to find out when  and where we need Flight Escorts.

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