Herr Hubby and I have been dreaming of having our own pet chocolate labrador ever since since we saw our neighbour’s choco labs being walked in our subdivision in Cebu, the Philippines. Those melting, puppy-dog eyes and the smoothest, chocolatiest-chocolate brown coats had us hooked. We  were living in Shanghai back then, in a high-rise apartment located in a busy high-density neighborhood, not exactly pet-friendly. But we kept the dream alive and from time to time, would talk fondly about our Cebu neighbour’s dogs.

Now that we’re in Guangzhou and living in a lovely neighborhood, very centrally located in the city yet surrounded by large, green parks, in a low-rise, pet-friendly residential compound, our hopes started to rise for a choco lab pup to join our little family. I started doing the research. Unless one is fluent in Chinese, it is very challenging to find good dog breeders in China, so I did my search in the Philippines.

And we were in luck! One breeder in Manila had three month old choco lab pups. They came from excellent chocolate labrador pedigrees, were receiving the necessary type of vaccines as they grew and in a few weeks, would be old enough and ready to join loving families and households. We had our eye on one particular cute fella – a boy whom we were going to call Milka, after a famous German chocolate brand that Herr Hubby and I like (we always have a few of these yummy chocolate bars in the fridge).

The pup had the most adorable light blue eyes, just like Herr Hubby’s. Very striking, with his mocha brown coat (the pup, not Herr Hubby). We were already joking that he had mama’s skin (me) and papa’s eyes.

I also did research on the documents required for the pup to become an expat pup. The breeder was kind of taken aback when I mentioned that it was our intention to bring the pup out of the Philippines and bring him to China with us to live. Yes, a bit of an unusual situation for a dog, I guess…

Anyway, I’m sharing the requirements here, for the benefit of those expats who may be moving to China and would like to bring their pets:
1.)  Your pet’s vaccination record, especially for rabies, during the past year. China requires that pet vaccinations must have taken place during the last 30 days before travel to China.

2.)  Your pet’s international health certificate from your vet, after an all-around medical exam, clearing your pet as disease-free and eligible for international travel.

3.) Endorsement of your pet’s health certificate by your country’s government body regulating the welfare of live animals. In the US, this would be your local office of the Dept of Agriculture. In the Philippines, I found that this would have been the Bureau of Animal Industry (BAI), Animal Health Division. This office also issues the export permit required by the Philippine authorities for your pet to leave the country. It is important to note that both the health certificate and the endorsement have to be obtained within 10 days of travel to China; in other words, you might have trouble getting your pet through upon arrival in China if your certificates and endorsements are more than 10 days old.

4.) For arrival at the airport in China, it is also good to have a photo of your pet ready and to have a photocopy of your passport and China resident’s visa.

Keep in mind that only foreigners with valid Chinese work permits and residents’ visas are allowed to bring pets. Also, contrary to rumours – it is not true that there is a “one pet policy” (akin to the “one-child policy” ) in China. What is true, however, is that you are allowed to bring in up to two pets only per family.

Pet quarantine regulations vary per city in China. In Beijing, pets have to undergo a 30-day quarantine. In Shanghai, the quarantine is 7 days. In Guangzhou, as long as your pet has all the documents as mentioned above, the airport authorities will allow you to quarantine your pet in your own home for a period of three days.

I also checked with Philippine Airlines which type of airline-approved dog kennel crate would be suitable. Friends in Manila assured me that I could buy the kennel crate there. PAL, like most international airlines, will not allow pets in passengers’ cabins but has a pressurized, temperarure-controlled area in the checked baggage section for pets. Just inform the airline in advance that you are planning to bring a pet for international travel.

Armed with my background research and ready to book my flight and pick up our pup, Herr Hubby then thought the courteous thing to do would be to give our very nice landlady a heads up that we were planning our new addition to the family. He gave her a quick call.

ALAS! Our nice landlady very sweetly refused to have a pet in her beautiful apartment. She wasn’t budging, very kindly but very firmly telling us, very sorry but no. And since we had only moved in a month ago…AIYAAAAAA!

Deflated, I saw our dream of the adorable choco lab puppy with his mournful baby-blue eyes start to fade. Poor little Milka wouldn’t be able to join his papa and mama in China after all.

Can anyone out there hear our hearts breaking???

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8 thoughts on “Heartbroken…

  1. What?! You can’t get a puppy anyways? Oh no! Try to sweet talk your landlady? Pay extra? you have to get that cute little puppy!

  2. Hi, everyone! Thank you so much for your support…I was very emotional when I wrote that initial post. It’s great to know that you sympathize with our plight regarding Milka. We’ve tried our best with our landlady; she has been very sweet but firm with her no-pets policy. We can’t really fault her…and we’ve learned a valuable lesson.

    Good quality apartments are in such limited supply in this city and two previous apartments we’d selected had fallen through. We were getting desperate and when we found this one, we just swooped on it and moved in such a rush that we neglected to clarify about the pets policy. I think that because the neighborhood here is so pet-friendly and most of our neighbors here do have dogs, we just assumed it wouldn’t be an issue. So the moral lesson here is: never assume!

    Although we were very disappointed, Herr Hubby and I are very happy in this lovely, comfortable home right now. We do look forward to having Milka join our family in future, when the timing is right.

    Hugs to all,

  3. Hello! How are you?
    I hope this comment will reach you seeing that this blog entry was posted years ago.

    I am planning to take my puppy with me to the Philippines next month but I have no clue where to go for the required paperworks. I’ve searched online however there’s very little to no information regarding exporting pets out of Guangzhou.

    Do you know where I could get an exit permit for my pet? I’m holding an S2 visa (personal visit), would it be possible to bring my pet with me?

    Thank you very much.


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