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Visiting Canada With Dogs

Last week we loaded the GoPetFriendly team and Winnebago aboard the MV Coho ferry in Port Angeles, Washington and crossed the Strait of Juan de Fuca to Victoria, British Columbia. Though we’ve heard of people having gut-wrenching experiences, our trip across the border was a breeze.

On the ferry operator’s advice, we skipped the reservation and got up before the sun to catch the early ferry. We arrived at the terminal just as the gates were opening, so we were first in line and had a great view when the ferry came to pick us up.

Ferry Boarding - Port Angeles, WA Ferry Boarding - Port Angeles, WA

Our fare for two adults and an oversized vehicle was just over $100 – and the dogs rode for free. We pulled the RV on to the car deck and headed upstairs for the crossing, which takes about an hour. Sorry, we have no pictures … the morning fog hadn’t burned off yet, so we didn’t get to enjoy the scenery. But, the solarium and the upper deck are both pet friendly, and I’m sure on a clear day the views would be great.

Ferry Boarding - Port Angeles, WA

Pulling the Winnebago up to the customs booth is always nerve wracking for me. First of all, we’re obviously conspicuous, and drawing attention to yourself when you’re dealing with a government agency is not something I recommend. Secondly, Buster usually barks when I roll down the window to speak to someone. Trying to convince a customs agent that you’re not a threat to provincial security while your dog is howling bloody murder from the back of your vehicle can be dicey. And then there are the questions … it makes me nervous to be dodgy, but honestly, we don’t know exactly how many days we’ll be staying, where we’ll travel while we’re here, or from what point we’ll exit the country.

The stars must have aligned, because Buster was quiet, the agent was only mildly interested in the graphics on the Winnebago, and I was able to answer all his questions convincingly. He asked to see our passports and the boys’ rabies vaccination certificates, and in less than five minutes we were on our way.

Mickey from Fido and Wino

The best part of traveling is the opportunity to meet in person friends we’ve gotten to know on the Internet. Over the weekend we got together with Shauna and Mickey from Fido and Wino, Cate and Martin from BlanketID, and Jim McBean, who is a great tour guide (and makes a darn good case for settling down on this beautiful island).

Victoria, BC

Victoria is super pet friendly, and we’ll fill you in on the fun we’ve been having in a future post. One thing I have to mention is that not all of Canada’s provinces are as welcoming to dogs as British Columbia. Ontario currently has an ugly breed discrimination law that prohibits “pit bull type” dogs in the province. The law further grants police or animal control officers the right to seize any dog deemed to be a “pit bull type” based on visual inspection. If the dog is, in fact, judged to be a pit bull type, it will be euthanized – though it may not have broken any other laws or hurt anyone or anything. It’s important to note that there are no exceptions for tourists traveling with their pets, so if you travel with any breed that looks like a pit bull, I recommend avoiding Ontario entirely.

If you’ve taken your pet to Canada, please share your experiences crossing the border. I hope we find getting back to the States as easy!

More Tips

Are you planning a trip to Canada with your dog, with your cat, or both?! We have two posts with more information and tips for you here:

Tips for Taking your Dog to Canada from GoPetFriendly.com Tips for Taking Your Cat to Canada from GoPetFriendly.com

Planning a pet friendly trip of your own? We’ll make it easy:
Pet Friendly Hotels | Pet Friendly Destinations | Pet Friendly Activities

  • Yes, Amanda, pitties are welcome in British Columbia.

  • Can u take a pitbull across the British colouimbia border

  • It’s my pleasure, Zuzana Dvořáková – that’s what we’re here for! =)

  • GoPetFriendly.com Thank you!!!!!!

  • Hi Zuzana! It’s not nearly as bad as we imagine – I’m sure you and Lady will do just fine. If your vaccination certificate is dated last year, but says the vaccine is still valid (many are good for three years), it should be fine. Just make sure it meets all these requirements:This certificate should identify the animal as in breed, color, weight, etc., and indicate the name of the licensed rabies vaccine used (trade name), including serial number and duration of validity (up to three years). Please note that if the duration of validity is not indicated on the certificate, the vaccine will be considered to be valid for one year.As for her food, here are the rules for taking pet food to Canada:Pet owners traveling to Canada are allowed to bring pet food and treats (limit of 20 kg, or 44 pounds), as long as all of the following requirements are met:The product must be of United States origin and be commercially packaged.The product must be in the possession of the traveler at the time of entry from the U.S.The animal that will eat the imported product must accompany the traveler at the time of entry.The imported product is fed only to the animal that accompanied the traveler into Canada.Good luck, and waggin’ trails to you!

  • Hello and thank you!!! This are very helpful information! We want to travel with our 12 years old dog lady (Irish setter) this summer to the Nova Scotia. I have certifications about vaccinations one year old from our vet but date of vaccination is good. Do I need a new (same) paper with this year date?? Did you have dry food for your dog at the car? She has some diet and I am not sure about buying it in Scotia. :-( I was thinking if I take no open package dry food is it ok?Thank you very much! I´m little nerves about canadian border agents… :-)

  • Jason Leeb They have the authoriy to confiscate pit bulls found in Ontario – whether they’d allow someone to turn around at the border, I don’t know. Even if they would, it seems to me that taking a pittle to the Ontario border isn’t a good idea either way. Ontario is not a safe place for pit bulls. I hope that helps!

  • Jason Leeb says:

    GoPetFriendly.com SWEET INFO. Thanks, so let me understand this, if you are tring to cross the border in Ontario and have pit they won’t allow you to trun around with your dog? am I to believe the just flat out take your dog if they deem it a pitbull at the border?

  • Glad to help, Jessica! Have a great trip.

  • Just scrolled down and saw your response to a similar question. Thank you.

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