Shipping Holland Lops
Things You Need To Know

by Dwayne T. Neal, NY

There are some important things you need to consider before even thinking about having your Holland Lops ship and some of them have to do with good Ole Uncle Same and some of our elected politicians!  An example of this is related to: 1) one of our Capitol's more influential leaders who happens to come from the Northeast and, 2) something referred to as ISTEA (pronounced like "ice tea").  Yes, since the rollout of the Intermodal Surface Transportation Efficiency (ISTEA) Act of 1991, Senator Frank Lautenberg of New Jersey has continued his involvement of introducing and supporting legislation affecting anything associated with transportation, including (believe it or not) the rules related to shipping of pets/animals like your Holland Lops!  Now do you feel as though Congress has an affect on you yet???

Along with the Senator's support of the Intelligent Transportation Systems where the government is channeling funds into initiatives to make our highways safer for us, Lautenberg's intent is to support intelligent handling of live animals to help keep them safe as well.  That sounds like a great idea to me!  This is evidenced by the recently introduced Senate Bill 82, Lautenberg Amendment No. 1921, also called the "Save Air Travel for Animals Act" which clarified some of the practices followed within the airline industry for animal cargo where basically the intention is to ensure safe passage.  Improvements mandated by this would include: 1) airlines being required to inform the USDA of all animal shipments prior to departures, 2) airlines providing consumers of clear data on shipping guidelines, their particular shipping area conditions and their historical record with respect to shipping of live cargo, and 3) limits of shipping during the severe temperature conditions of the summer unless the cargo is maintained in a guaranteed safe ventilation area.  This bill has actually motivated many airlines to adopting most of the recommendations already.  This has created the most visible change that would affect you directly, which is, if you are planning to ship or have shipped, some Holland Lops you must be aware that there is a blackout time period from June 1st though August 31st where NO live animals can be shipped at all.  Most of the other requirements for shipping are basically still in place and I will outline some of them in the remainder of this article.

Shipping of Holland Lops is a viable avenue that you should consider whether you are planning to buy new stock to improve your line's conformation, whether you're trying to ensure the strengthening of your line's genetics through the introduction of stock that is somewhat foreign to your line, or, whether you are purchasing stock because you are unable to do so in your area.  For whatever reason, shipping from out of state is possible, but you should know some of the specifics and associated level of effort involved with attending to the details before you start planning with a potential supplier.  Personally I have had great success with shipping over the years both for me and for breeders buying from me.  One of the downsides of shipping is the additional costs above and beyond the costs of the animals, which many people fail to anticipate.  This causes frustration once a buyer and seller have engaged in a dialogue only to have it all fall apart after a lot of time has been invested.  So, to hopefully help you avoid this, I've outlined the basics for the costs of shipping similar to what I now provide as an initial response letter to anyone inquiring about purchases.  

To summarize, there are two kinds of costs; the first kind is the costs for the animals and the second kind is the costs associated with the requirements for the shipment that I will call peripheral costs.  Peripheral costs accumulate due to the following:

  1. Airfare (Freight or Cargo shipped with no planned lay-over)

  2. Carrier (cage)

  3. USDA Certificate completion which requires a "Vet Check"

  4. The seller's fee (if any) for their time

Usually, when I get a letter or call from someone out of state who is interested in purchasing stock, the first thing I explain is the shipping requirement, which most people underestimate.  First of all, animals must be shipped via Air Freight or Air Cargo known commonly in the airline industry as PDQ (remember Pretty Darn Quick), which guarantees direct delivery with no planned layover.  I ship mine through US Airways since it is the only jet service out of my airport and have found the PDQ service extremely reliable.  The cost for this is $170 for the one-way ticket.  To minimize my effort and to validate the potential buyer's real interest, I usually ask the buyer to set this up on their own by calling their local airline and coordinating the best flights for them to receive their purchase. Then they simply need to let me know when to have the rabbits at the airport at my end.  In almost all situations, this cost has to be paid at the place of the flight's origin and credit cards as payment over the phone are usually not accepted, thus, I have the buyer send me the $170 up front so I have it to pay this cost.  The $170 fee covers the shipment of anything up to 50-70 pounds depending on the airline, so it really does not matter how many animals you ship in whatever size hole carrier as long as it does not go over the weight limit.  All airlines tend to have their own idiosyncrasies with respect to weight limits and container sizes so it always doesn't hurt to call beforehand to get all the specifics so you are not surprised on shipment day (this is more of a concern/action for the seller than the buyer).  Also, another piece of advice is to be persistent when making your reservation and/or requesting shipping requirements since I have found that all the people at the other end of the telephone line are not always that familiar with the rules associated with shipping animals (since it is not a common daily experience).  So, make sure you call a few times to ensure that you are getting the same information from more than one person at the airline.

Another cost for air shipment is the cost of a carrier and the Vet Check that has to happen within 10 days of the ship-date and is required for the paperwork (APHIS Form 7001/OMB control number 0579-0036) that has to be filled out/signed by the Seller and the Vet verifying the health of the animals being shipped.  This form needs to accompany the shipment and is usually attached to the carrier at the time of the check-in at the airline.  The Vet expenses (as we all know) can run about $20 per animal.  Formally, it is called the "United States Interstate and International Certificate of Health Examination For Small Animals" and is usually stockpiled by your local Vet.  carriers can be the same kind of carriers you typically use for going to the local shows and can cost around $25-$40 depending on the number of holes to accommodate the number of animals being shipped.  So,, depending on how many Hollands are being bought, right off the bat you are looking at a little over $225 of those peripheral costs and you haven't even paid for a rabbit yet!  For some people, as it is understood, this is price prohibitive and it's best to be aware of it before the buyer and seller waste both of each other's time.

I trust that this covers most of the "ins and outs" that you will need to know for shipping.  As I stated, the procedures I've explained have worked perfectly for me over the years and I have never had a problem shipping.  FYI, it is always advised to double check with the ARBA for any recent changes with current laws that may affect your plans.  ARBA is a good source since they track such initiatives for its members.

As far as "packing" your animals for the trip, prepare them as you would for any "long haul" to a rabbit show with plenty of straw/hay for them to hide in, a carrot (for moisture) and a hay cube. That has been the formula that seems to work well for me. 

Lastly, once I am confident that a potential buyer understands and I know they are still interested, I tell them to "please feel free to write or call and I will put a list together of what I have to sell per what you said you were looking for and we will take it from there".  From this point on I can only recommend clear communications between the buyer and seller so as to optimize the matching of expectations at both ends.  If you are on the Internet, I highly encourage using e-mail and sending of digital pictures.  Also, in some cases the provision of names of out of state previous buyers who can provide testimonials on the quality stock they received is another possibility.  In short, allow yourselves time to plan and to understand each other, clearly defining what it is the buyer expects, properly and honestly representing what is being sold and to follow the rules and laws.  Good luck!    

The Hollander - Spring Issue/April 2001