How to Adopt a Stray Cat or Dog on Holiday

For animal lovers, holidays can bring new insights and in many cases sadness when we witness a culture very different from our own. With so many countries where stray cats and dogs roam the streets in great numbers and survive of scraps and handouts, it’s hard to sit back and not take action.

In many cases, it can be the dog or cat that adopts you! Once, you’ve created a bond it can be heartbreaking to leave them behind and never know what their fate may be.

Whilst it might not be realistic to rescue them all, if there is a special stray that has stolen your heart, it can be possible to bring them back to the UK.  However, how to adopt a stray – be that adopting a dog from Europe or a stray from further afield – does vary from country to country and how easy it is will depend on the specific import laws.

What may seem initially like an impossible task, with enough determination and the right set of circumstances, it might just be possible once you’ve done your research.

Rescue Centres

In most countries, there are likely to be some rescue centres operating which support the re-homing of stray animals and some which are set up to import them back to the UK. Be sure to do some research into the options available in the area.

Banned Breeds

The UK’s importation laws include some restrictions on dog breeds, the following dogs breed are banned. If you think your dog may have any of these breeds in the mix, you will be unable to import it.

  • Pit Bull Terrier
  • Japanese Tosa
  • Dogo Argentino
  • Fila Brasileiro



Depending on the length of you holiday, you may wish to extend your stay or pay to keep your new pet in a kennel until transportation is arranged. You can also look into support from local animal rescues in the country, which may agree to board your animal for the short term. However, be aware that your pet needs to arrive no more than 5 days before or after you, or you’ll have to follow more stringent rules.

Timescales are largely dependent on the country you’re looking to export from. As a rabies-free country, the UK has pet importation regulations and requires quarantine for some pets coming from countries where this disease is prevalent. This can significantly lengthen the time before you can get your pet home.


Veterinary Treatment

You will need to ensure your new pet has the required vaccinations, microchip and be disease-free. The UK requires a period of 21 days between vaccination and transportation, so this will need to be taken into account. Dogs also require tape worm treatment.

The vet will then issue a letter to state the animal is fit and well as this document will be required for importation into the UK.

In addition, locations where are rabies vaccination is necessary, your pet will need to have a blood test 30 days afterward which will be sent for testing. After this, 3 months will need to pass from the date of the blood test, before your pet can enter the UK.

Transport Requirements

To import an animal to the UK, you will be required to use an approved transport company, such as PBS Pet Travel that specialise in dog shipping. Our experts are always on hand to answer any specific questions or concerns you may have.

If you’re looking to save a Greek stray or one from any other EU country, with Brexit fast approaching, you should also note the recent law change for pets entering the UK.

There are also other pet import restrictions which are specific to particular countries to be aware of.
For the most up to date information you should visit the Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs (DEFRA) website.