The AARF logo shows three animals on a yellow AARF life raft, floating on the sea with gray clouds; sunlight peeks down on them, representing hope.

Adopting a Pet — The Basics

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Adopting a Pet in Anguilla

Take a loving part of your visit to Anguilla back home with you!

For visitors who ask: can I adopt a pet and take her home?…

…The answer is: Yes! It’s easy, and you can take her home on the plane!

Is it Easy to Adopt An Anguillian Dog Or Cat And Take Her Home?

Very emphatically: YES!!!!

While you are enjoying your visit to Anguilla, think about taking a special memory back home with you — a new addition to your family (or even someone you know who would love a new pet). It’s easy, and this page will tell you what you need to know. Read on for the full details.

Consider this: once back home, every time you look into those eyes, a part of Anguilla will look right back at you. Don’t just take our word for it: see the Facebook group called Anguillian Pet Owners which has updated photos and stories. Check out our AARF Anguilla Facebook page or read the many "Happy Tails" sections of our older newsletters.

This page is for anyone wanting to adopt a pet in Anguilla, whether she stays here on island, or moves to a new home abroad.

It is really an easy process. We have a lot of information on this page, including tips and hazards to avoid, but don't let the massive amount of information be intimidating. And remember: we can always help. Just contact us!

(We mostly will use the female form when describing animals, just because. Besides, it’s harder to find homes for girl dogs and cats on island.)

How Do I Adopt?

There are two ways to go:

  • Adopt From AARF
  • Adopt a pet you found on island (aka “I Found a Stray Kitten at my Villa And I want her!”)

Adopt from the AARF Shelter

The pet will have been examined by the vet staff and given needed vaccinations or treatments. This is far better than a pet from the street or from bush, although many have done so and are perfectly happy! After you adopt, AARF and the Morlens Veterinary Clinic staff will help you with the steps needed to take her back to the United States.

Why Should I Adopt From AARF?

As we said, a pet from AARF has been vetted (pun intended), so you know exactly what you are getting. Pets up for adoption by AARF have been checked by the Morlens veterinarians, given shots and treatments, fed and watered while at the shelter, and socialized as much as possible.

(Want to help and have fun? Visitors can are are highly encouraged to come to the shelter, to hold, play with and socialize our puppies, kittens, cats and dogs.)

Morlens also works with partners in the USA and Canada, and very often sends pets to them via volunteer transporters (AARF pays the airline fee for the pet and supplies everything needed for transport). This means you are sometimes able to get one of our pets that has been transported to one of North American partners.

AARF regularly posts photos and descriptions of our available pets on the web site, Facebook and sometimes on our mailing list. So prospective adopters can see who is available and make a choice to come in and visit the pool of available pets.

What Will It Cost?

The adoption fee for cats and kittens is US$20 and includes their first vaccination and deworming, $10 off their second vaccination, veterinary exam, and, if they stay on Anguilla, their spay/neuter surgery when they are around six months old. Of course, pets are fed and housed at the shelter at AARF’s expense.

For puppies, the fee is $25, and puppies need a third vaccination, which also receives a $10 discount.

AARF has carriers, leashes, collars and toys, so everything needed for transport back home is available.

To get to the USA or Canada requires a Health Certificate for Immigration into N. America. Morlens will prepare that for a fee.

Getting To Our Shelter


Come to our shelter to meet our available pets. Socialize and play with them, and if you want to adopt, the help you need is there!

Adopt a Pet You Found

Much of the above applies, including the availability of supplies for purchase. The adopter should bring the pet in for a full vet exam and any needed treatments or vaccinations, the Health Certificate, which the adopter is responsible for. No adoption fee is charged.

Two critical items to note: One, make sure the pet you want to adopt and take home is not owned by someone! Many dogs and cats run loose, do not have fenced yards, are without collars, and so on. Look for an owner. Many times, an owner will give consent to take a pet. This is a different country, so do not run afoul of the law and local customs.

Make sure the pet is old and healthy enough to travel. We prefer young puppies and kittens to have stayed with the mother through the weaning process, both from a nutrition/immune system standpoint and for socialization. Sometimes that is not possible and adoption is the better option. That means a judicious judgment call is needed.

The Process (Summary)

Once you have adopted your pet (from AARF or elsewhere), you’ll need to work through this checklist:

  • Vaccinations/Documentation: get your needed paperwork from AARF/Morlens. You need a Health Certificate for entry to the USA or Canada and the medical booklet showing treatments to date. Anguilla and Sint Maarten are recognized as being rabies–free countries, but a pet 3 months or older will need a rabies shot as well.
  • Airline Reservation: make an airline reservation for your pet. Most planes have a limit to the number of pets allowed on the plane. This includes smaller inter’island airlines. Most airlines charge a pet fee (and most have a page on their web site covering pets. Go to the airline web site and search for “traveling with pets”.
    Sadly, if you are flying Delta, you are most likely out of luck, because they irrationally insist on a 16 week old minimum age limit. That means most puppies and dogs will be too large for the cabin (and they don’t do cargo hold transports).
    Change airlines or find a way for someone to take your pet on another airline. We may be able to help, given enough advance warning, although boarding will be up to the adopter. Frankly, if you think you want to adopt a puppy, do not fly with Delta.
  • Cargo hold for large pets? This may be possible — depending on the time of year and the pet. The basic limitation is temperature. Too hot (over 85F) or too cold (45F) can mean the airline won’t take the pet in the hold. On occasion, for borderline temperature forecasts, a vet can try a short–interval waiver for the pet. However, airlines almost always won't take snub–nosed pets in the hold for respiratory reasons. Check with the airline. Most have a Traveling with Pets section on their web pages.
  • Transportation and Lodging en Route: You may need pet–friendly transportation other than your flight.

More Details


Morlens will prepare your needed Health Certificate for a nominal fee. They'll supply the Medical book and anything else needed. Most of these need advance warning (for example, the attending vet has to sign paperwork), so allow as much advance warning as you can. At least two to three days is recommend.

Make an airline reservation for your pet

Make an airline reservation for your pet. Some airlines limit the number of pets per cabin or flight.

In the Cabin or in the Cargo Hold?

Most adopters take a small puppy or cat/kitten with them in the cabin. They go under the seat in front of you. That means no exit row or bulkhead seats can be used. They also count as one of the allowed carry–ons, since they are in a carrier. Airline crew (and neighboring passengers) can be easy or hard to deal with when it comes to whether the pet can come out of the carrier during flight, so proceed cautiously and quietly. Sometimes the puppy carrier can be on a lap during flight so as to be petted. We don’t recommend taking cats out for obvious reasons, although we suggest they always wear harnesses!

In the cabin pets (under the seat):

  • You will need a carrier (which will be considered to be a carry–on)
  • Seat selection — no bulkhead or emergency row seat is allowed and some airplanes do not have space under the seat due to electronics

In the cargo hold as a Checked Pet:

  • Temperature ranges
  • You will need a crate

Transportation and Lodging en Route

you may need pet–friendly cars, taxis, ferries, hotels, etc. for your new pet. Make sure those are lined up in advance.

In general, local taxis are OK with pet and there should be no extra charges, but check first.

Note that Anguilla airport ferries such as Calypso are pet friendly. In fact, we are extremely fond of Calypso because they support AARF all year long.

If you are spending the night in St. Maarten (by plan or by cancellation), one pet friendly Hotel is Mary’s Boon Hotel near the airport. In San Juan, the quirky San Juan Water Beach Club Hotel near the airport takes pets. Both of these, in fact take cats as well (some hotels will take dogs but not cats).

Security Checkpoints

For pets in the cabin, the pet has to come out of the carrier when you go through the scanning machinery. (Obviously, it cannot got through the X–Ray machine, though we have heard of a couple stories where this was supposedly tried, with bad results.) We recommend the pet wear a harness and leash for this process.

If you have other people traveling with you, enlist their help before going through the human and luggage scanning machines!

Our advice is to do this:

  • Have your other items out and ready to go though the luggage scanner on the conveyer rack (shoes, electronics, belts, etc), your suitcase ready to go through and your pockets emptied. Be ready to make it through with that beep. A companion can be behind you to push all that through. AFTER you have passed all the way through and are clear on the other side.
  • Have the pet carrier be OK to go through the scanner. If all it has is paperwork and leashes, that should be fine. Put other stuff elsewhere temporarily if not.
  • Take your pet out of the carrier and hold securely (a harness and/or leash can help).
  • Push the carrier into the X–Ray scanner and then
  • Walk through the people scanner, holding the pet securely.
  • After you are clear, have your companion wait a few seconds to make SURE the carrier got through and push your other gear through.
  • Put the pet into the carrier as it passes out of the scanner.
  • Wait for the rest of your gear.

It’s important to NOT push your suitcase and gear before or while you are taking the pet through the human scanner.

In the case of this writer’s cat, said cat also comes with cat litter, a litter box, cat food, medications, etc. And the family luggage may have food or other things in it (like too many electronics). All which will almost certainly to set off an alarm and trigger that extra security check. We guarantee that the cat litter and brick of Costco Parmesan cheese certainly will bring things to a halt.

This halt is — trust us — always precipitated by the offending gear starting to go though the scanner, followed by a stop, a lengthy pause and then several back and forth lurches, until, finally, a hand goes up for a supervisor. Or the bag gets pulled out onto a side track. Meanwhile, the carrier is stuck BEHIND all this, and you are stuck standing holding the pet while the baggage is checked out.

But this is a very easy process.

In Closing

We have sent so many puppies, dogs, kittens and cats to the USA and Canada that we decided we needed to highlight some of them:

  • There is a fun Facebook group called Anguillian Pet Owners which has updated photos and stories.
  • See our US/Canada Adoption Photos via the navigation bar to the left.
  • See our past newsletters for happy stories.

We close with another great quote:

"Adoption: It’s a wonderful option!"

— Anne S., friend of AARF