Working Week: Flying veterinarian

US soldiers in Iraq who want to take their pets home can be tough, getting pets out of Kabul is a pain - it’s all in a day’s work.

By YOCHEVED MIRIAM RUSSO
April 6, 2011 08:14
4 minute read.
Flying veterinarian

Flying veterinarian deer bambi fawn 311. (photo credit: www.terminal4pets.co.il)

Dr. Eytan Kreiner
Flying veterinarian
www.terminal4pets.co.il
Age: 51
Marital Status: Married to Rena, three children

Job description: A third of the world keeps pets, animals that are members of the family. When people move, they want to take their pets, too. We take care of everything, vaccinations, blood work, ticketing, all kinds of clearances, then arrange for the transportation of the pet. Sometimes the pet can’t fly with the family, so we fly with the pets and deliver them to their new home. We do everything, door to door.

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Education: BA, Ben-Gurion University of the Negev; vet school in England; another year of school in New York. I’ve been a practicing vet for 22 years.

How did you get into this? About nine years ago, I realized that Israelis, who are great travelers, needed help with their pets when they move. That’s where it started. Then we realized that people who were making aliya needed help, too.

Yesterday we had pets on nine flights – Ukraine to Israel, Iran to the US, Moscow to South Africa, India to Australia… all over the world. We have agents in 49 countries who work with us. At any given time, we have 50 pets in the air.

First job? I washed cars, did garden cleanups. I grew up in Ramat Aviv, and at 16 I was leading nature tours.

Worst job? It wasn’t a job, but in vet school, working in the slaughter house. You had to do it to graduate.

Who uses your services? Everyone. Three weeks ago a client flew from Beit Shemesh to Luxembourg with 29 pets. She ran out of money for the last two cats, so she took a second job to earn it – but she wouldn’t leave her pets. People take their pets along on vacation.

In the scheme of things, it’s not expensive. If you’ve making aliya, the move will cost you somewhere between $5,000 and $15,000. For another $500, you can take your pet. There’s no reason to leave your furry family member behind.

What kind of animals have you transported? Dogs, cats and birds, but also crocodiles, a giraffe, hamsters, snakes, fish, kangaroos, ferrets. People are amazing. One man bought some small insects in Thailand where they were sold by weight, two kilograms for $1. But he paid $2,000 to get them transported and through customs. We fly sled dogs to compete in the Iditarod. We work with military families and their pets, people who need their service dogs with them. Some people charter a plane so the pet can fly with them in the cabin.

Controversial? We won’t ship lab animals. Moreover, we won’t work with any airline that transports lab animals. We won’t fly farm animals, because no matter what they tell us, they’re going for slaughter. We also won’t ship horses because that’s a highly specialized field. Horses need very special accommodations.

High moment? Every day when a pet’s journey ends and the pet is reunited with the family, I feel enormous satisfaction. Up until the pet arrives, everyone is anxious. Then we deliver the pet and the happiness, the tears, the joy are really something to behold. The love you see between the family and the pet is really something.

Low moment? You can’t please everyone all the time. We work with some people for a month over the arrangements, and then the dog arrives 10 minutes later than we expected, they’re furious. Sometimes a flight is delayed because of air traffic – not our fault – and we did everything: went to the airport, walked the dog during the delay, took care of his needs. Still they’re angry. We don’t deserve it, you know?

What situations are challenging? During the uprising in Egypt, we had 400 families with pets to fly out quickly. Officials said, “We’ll get the animal ready in a couple of months.” I said, “The animals will leave with us tomorrow.” They did. American soldiers in Iraq who want to take their pets home can be tough, too. Getting pets out of Kabul is a pain in the tush, I can tell you that. Then we had a guy in Nepal: “I found a snake and I want to take it with me to Greenland. Can you help?” No problem – it’s all in a day’s work.

Do you have pets? We have three rescue dogs, nine cats, a ferret, fish, rabbits and birds in the garden.

What would you be doing if not this? Maybe a carpenter or designer. I have good hands.

What’s your dream? I invent dreams by the hour. Just one? To retire with my wife in 40 years or so. I have too much to do before that.


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