Saturday morning dawned early (March 1) for Schubert, a grey, shorthaired house cat. The alarm buzzed madly at 6 a.m., waking his human friend, who seemed to be in a great hurry to get up. Schubert ambled around her, gazing upwards intently until he was given a pat on the head. She even reached for the catnip flavoured treats this morning and he got three – they are never handed out so early! Then, as he was just done crunching up the last piece, his human friend walked him into a blue carrier bag, zipped it up, slung the bag (with Schubert in it) over her shoulder, and walked out the front door of the house in Rockville, Maryland, where a friend’s Hyundai stood parked waiting for them.
What Schubert didn’t know, was that he was about to fly for a total of 24 hours, on a journey of 17, 599 kilometers (10,936 miles) westward across the contigouos United States, and later, over the Pacific Ocean. A trip that most humans have never even embarked on, and those that have, dread it.
And he made it! But before he could join his human friend to start their new adventure in this strange and humid land known as Malaysia, Schubert had one final thing to sit through: seven days of quarantine.
**Before I go on, I should mention Hong Chow, a gentleman whose dog went through a similar journey as Schubert. When Hong Chow found a lack of concise and useful information on bringing one’s pet from abroad to Malaysia, he created a blog, ‘Import Pets to Malaysia’ and wrote a long post to address that gap. Thanks Hong! You’ve been able to help many confused pet owners like myself.**
Quarantine station details:
Jalan Pekeliling 4
(Same route to go to the Low Cost Carrier Terminal (LCCT.) Jalan Pekeliling 4 is shortly past the F1 circuit and is a rather sudden left turn at a traffic light. Watch out.)
Phone Number: 03-8787-2379
Mon – Thurs
10:30 a.m. – 1:00 p.m.; 2:00 p.m. – 4:00 p.m.
10:30 a.m. – 12:00 p.m.; 3:00 p.m. – 4:00 p.m.
Weekends & Holidays
10:00 a.m. – 1:00 p.m.
There are fees involved and I’ll cover that later.
Parking & Registering
At the end of Jalan Pekeliling 4, you’ll see the entrance to the quarantine station (see the first picture below.) You won’t be allowed to drive in, except to pick up your pet on the last day of quarantine.
You need to register for a pass at the MAQIS office before entering. Bring valid ID for this purpose. Towards the right of the picture below, there is a road that leads to a car park (parking lot) of a complex, and there are two offices related to quarantine. The one you want has a gold sign above the door. Hong Chow’s blog has a much better description (and pictures) of finding the right office.
When you have your pass, you can either leave your car in the car park, or drive it back out and park next to the guard house. The guard will let you in once you’re registered.
Entering the Quarantine Station
Normally, one shouldn’t have to explain how to enter any location, but there’s a bit of a back story here. I was told that awhile back, some “hooligan” pet owner whose pup had just four days to go in quarantine, decided he would grab his dog, stuff it into his nearby car and make a run for it. Quarantine officers tracked him down and had to threaten police action before he consented to bring the dog back.
Since then, pet owners have not been allowed to drive into the station compound. In order for us pet owners to get to our fur babies, we have to do this:
At the top of the hill, you’ll see long, one storey buildings with curved light green roofs, and each one is named “rumah kucing 1,” or rumah anjing 2″ and so forth. Rumah = House. Kucing = Cat. Anjing = Dog. Every “rumah” is pretty far apart, separated by wide roads for vehicle access.
I booked Schubie a room with a/c, which are very limited in number and clustered together in “rumah kucing 3,” the first building I searched. I wasn’t expecting more than one cat building, hence didn’t think to ask for a specific building and room number. They didn’t venture to give me this information either. It was easy enough to find, but it’s best to ask when you get your pass.
Things to keep in mind: Litter and food can be provided at extra cost to pet owners. Litter boxes are provided free and cleaned daily. Food & water are also refilled daily by a caretaker. Bedding is not provided. Oh, and unless you don’t mind sitting on the floor, bring chairs.
Schubert was sitting with his chin on his paws when we found him. He was inside a steel cage that was inside a Very. Large. Room. I understand the desire for added security, but the place was definitely designed for one cat or one cat family per room, to allow them to roam about within the perimeters. Now that the pet is confined to the steel cage, (one cat per cage if it’s a family in one room) the space seems so wasted, and cats can only run about when owners visit and let them out. I don’t think it’s the same for dogs. Does anyone know?
After fussing with Schubie for a bit, he began getting curious about the outside. I didn’t see any harm in letting him out to explore the corridor, so we did just that.
So for seven days, this is where your pet will be. You can visit as often as you want or can. A week passed relatively quickly, especially since I filled the days that I didn’t visit with other activities — it helped take my mind off Schubert in quarantine. (Or perhaps, unlike me, you’re cool as cucumber and aren’t worried at all. More power to ya. 🙂 )
Finally, seven days were up and Schubert was FREE! Although I arrived at 10:30 p.m. on Friday night, I was allowed to pick him up on the morning of the following Friday, which is excellent! After you settle the fees at the office, someone will accompany you to your pet’s room. At this point, you’re allowed to drive in. The accompanying officer will most likely be on a motorbike and he will meet you at the room itself.
Quarantine fees breakdown:
Customs Handling & Exam – 65.00
Animal Hotel – 55.00
Quarantine (7 days) – 79.00
Food – 21.00 Optional
Litter – 21.00 Optional
A/C Room – 50.00 Optional
Caretaker – 20.00
I can’t guarantee these numbers won’t be different if you hire an agent for the entire process. If it’s a huge concern, you should ask them exactly what you’re paying for.
And that’s all she wrote! Schubert’s epic journey across the globe was done. He can now look forward to enjoying a new home, new family members, new friends, hugs, treats, kisses and nice warm nap weather all year around.
What a (cat’s) life.
I wrote this from a USA perspective, and while requirements for another country might be a little different, you may find parts of my experience useful. If you’ve done this journey with your pet and want to share your experience, please do so in the comments section.