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Humane transport

Make sure you know the laws and protocols before using this tool to find homes for more animals

Transport can be a very useful tool for moving homeless pets from communities that have too many, into communities that can provide them with homes. But it’s important to keep in mind that transport alone doesn’t do anything to solve the root causes of pet homelessness. And when done improperly, it can actually put animals at risk. So before hitting the road, make sure you’re complying with all laws and protocols to protect the health and safety of the animals being transported, along with the health and safety of the animals in destination communities.

Responsibilities for Domestic Transports


Responsibilities for International Imports

(NOTE: these rules may also apply when importing from U.S. territories, such as Puerto Rico)

All the domestic requirements plus adhere to:


State and federal licenses

Rescue groups that regularly transport animals across state lines and take a fee for the transfer of the animal, regardless of whether that fee is a sale or adoption fee, may have to be licensed as a dealer or carrier in some states and/or with the federal government. Check the laws and regulations of your transport and destination states to make sure you have all necessary licenses.

  • Some states that require a pet dealer license for pet transporters include:
  • The USDA licenses some dealers who transport or resell animals for a fee.

Municipal shelters, those transporting pets for no compensation (including an adoption fee), and individuals transporting their own pets are generally exempt from licensure requirements but must still have veterinary and other required records for transporting each animal.

What documents do I need?

While not all states require the following documents when importing animals, most of them do. Check the destination state’s requirements for information specific to your situation before your transport takes off. You will need…

  • A valid Certificate of Veterinary Inspection (also known as a health certificate)
  • Proof of current rabies vaccination

Before you go, have you confirmed that…

  • You meet all requirements needed to bring pets into the destination country and state?
  • The trip logistics and environment adhere to Companion Animal Transport Programs - Best Practices?
  • You are complying with all federal, state and local laws (such as age requirements, no signs of communicable disease, proof of rabies vaccination and correct paperwork)?

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