We adopted them around 18 months ago when they were born in our local cafe, and when it came time for us to relocate from Goa to the UK, we could not consider leaving without them. So many people adopt animals while in India, and although many people relocate with them, many others can not (or do not)... so we feel lucky to have been able to reach, finally, with our little family intact.
But we could not have done it without the help of a few very important people. One of them was Kelly Johnson.
How we came across Blacky's BnB.
Kelly runs Blacky's BNB - a boarding service for pets in Bangalore www.blackysbnb.com/ - but also feeds, cares for and rescues street animals in the area. Before finding Kelly, I spoke to many, many agents - and none of them came close to being capable of helping us as she has.
Unlike many agents working in the area of pet relocation from India to the UK or Europe, Kelly is not just out for herself. She really and truly cares about you and your pet, and will advise you the best way she can, without judgement or concern for her own self-interest.
Pet Relocation to UK
Because we were travelling to the UK, we had some particular challenges. The UK has a complete ban on animals traveling in the cabin or the hold, and therefore all animals have to go as manifest cargo. To travel as manifest cargo is by far the most stressful way to travel for your pet. They are taken from you far in advance and sent as if they are an international airmail parcel. It takes hours for them to be released at the other end, after what is normally a couple of days away from you, and you normally have to have agents on both sides to facilitate the process. It is also hugely expensive (I was quoted 3.5 lakh rupee, around £3,500, to take my cats this way). At this point we were despairing...
But after I heard about PET MOVES UK, and spoke to Mira, I felt hopeful again. They offer a pet taxi service from various hubs in Europe (Paris, Amsterdam etc) to the UK, allowing you to fly with your pet in the cabin or the hold into Europe (which permits this), get picked up, and travel via Eurotunnel to the UK to be dropped to your door. Mira was incredibly helpful, and she was the angel who put me in touch with Kelly.
About Blacky's BnB, Home stay for pets in Bangalore.
Kelly has been serving animals and their humans in Bangalore for years. She has helped many street dogs in Bangalore to reach their forever homes in the UK and Europe. She understand how to do this, and what the system requires. She has good relationships with the relevant offices, and she manages everything with an efficiency and dedication that is rare to find with agents in India. She also looked after us personally, being a huge support when our flights were cancelled and persistently pursuing the authorities to ensure our paperwork reached on time, despite delays at the office.
For us, the most incredible thing about Kelly was that she told us the truth how to get into the UK without sending your animals as cargo. EVERY OTHER AGENT I spoke to told me that the only way to travel to the UK without sending Kali and Aja as manifest cargo was to get the export paperwork done in India to send the cats to Europe, fly to Europe (in our case France), stay there for 10 days and re-do the paperwork to export them a second time from Europe to the UK. They will tell you that Indian authorities will not issue the paperwork for more than one country at a time, but not to worry as luckily of course they have an agent in France or wherever they can put you in touch with to redo the paperwork (and pay all over again!) a second time. But THIS IS NOT THE CASE...
Kelly was able to get us paperwork to fly from Bangalore to Paris and then travel by car into the UK, all ON THE SAME DAY! I didn't have to put the cats through the process twice, extend our travel by 10 days, or pay lakhs of rupees to Indian agents and their colleagues in France to do the paperwork twice. And Kelly was by far the cheapest agent I spoke to for completing the paperwork. She is a fair and moral person, perhaps one of the only ones, in an industry that exploits and manipulates instead of helping.
When we first heard about Kelly, we felt fortunate to have found her. But when we met her, we felt privileged to know her. This woman fights so hard for animals, and for right against wrong.
She was a tower of strength for us through a very hard process and my husband, Kali, Aja and I will be forever grateful to her.