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  • Writer's pictureBarbara Mumaugh

How to travel back to the U.S. with your new dog if you live more than a few hours away

Updated: Jun 19, 2023

Adopt a dog from Mexico: How to transport your new family member back with you Barb’s Dog Rescue is a Mexico dog rescue organization located in Puerto Peñasco, Mexico.

Bringing a dog home to the United States from Mexico is easier than you might expect. These days, some American rescue organizations have few dogs available for adoption, but there are thousands of dogs ready to be adopted in Mexico. At Barb’s Dog Rescue, we usually have about 350 dogs in our care, most of whom are ready for their forever homes. Here’s what you need to know about international dog adoption. Our shelter is located in Puerto Peñasco, Mexico (also known as Rocky Point), which is about four hours south of Phoenix, AZ. Puerto Peñasco is located on the beautiful Sea of Cortez. While you’re here, you can enjoy a beach vacation. Take a walk along the water, kayak, parasail or enjoy an outdoor massage. You can enjoy a sunset cruise or go whale watching. For the adventurous, there are opportunities to zipline, snorkel, parasail, kite surf, take a beach flight, or explore the desert on an ATV. And lots of visitors love our golf courses! Read more about the many things to see and do. The easiest way to get here is to fly into Phoenix or Tucson, and then drive south. From Phoenix, take Hwy 85 to Lukeville. From there, it’s a straight shot down to Puerto Peñasco – just follow the signs or plug “Puerto Peñasco” into your GPS. Your drive will take you through the beautiful Organ Pipe Cactus area, an International Biosphere Reserve. It’s a great place to stop and stretch your legs. There are trails to hike, clean bathrooms, and a gift shop that also has plenty of snacks. Not long after, you’ll approach the United States/Mexican border. In order to cross into Mexico, you’ll need to show your passport. Once you cross the border, the drive to Puerto Peñasco will take about an hour. Barb’s Dog Rescue is easy to find You’ll pass our shelter about eight miles before you reach Puerto Peñasco. You’ll see our billboard signs along the route when you’re getting close. Barb’s Dog Rescue will be on your right.

Adoption hours are from 10 am – 2 pm daily. And with nearly 300 dogs ready for adoption on any given day, we’re sure to have your perfect match! You’ll have the opportunity to visit with dogs, and our staff and volunteers can answer questions about specific dogs. If you fall in love, we’ll ask you some questions to make sure you’re a good fit for the dog in which you’re interested. Then you’ll complete an adoption application, and you’ll have an opportunity to make a donation to help offset the cost we incurred to care for your new dog. Then you’ll be on your way with your new best friend! All of our dogs are spayed or neutered and given all vaccinations, including their rabies shot. If you adopt from Barb’s, we’ll give you the paperwork needed to drive your dog across the border.

You won’t be able to bring a tiny puppy across the border, however. Puppies need to be at least four months of age to go to America, because they need enough time in our care to receive all their shots. If you are hoping to adopt a youngster, we can tell you which of the dogs in our care are ready to go, and which need more time with us to complete their series of vaccinations. And if you fall in love with a puppy who’s not yet ready for adoption, you can put the pup on hold and we will notify you when they are ready so you can come back for them. If you plan on staying in town for a few days before traveling back to America with your new family member, there are many lodging options that allow dogs. Otherwise, we are happy to keep your new dog in our care for a few more days, and you can pick him or her up as you head out of town.

Driving or flying your new dog home Options for getting your new dog home include flying, driving, or hiring a transport service. Driving: Lots of visitors plan a road trip back with their new dog, with an overnight stay or two along the way. Most La Quinta hotels allow dogs, and there are many other hotels and motels that are pet-friendly. If you are making the drive back, we recommend putting a harness on your dog, and using two leashes – one attached to the collar and one to the harness. This will ensure that you can keep your pup safe when you make stops along the way. Your new dog has experienced a lot of new things and isn’t yet fully bonded to you, so it’s better to be safe than sorry if they get nervous. To cross the border into the United States, you’ll need a passport for each person in the car. Your new dog will leave Barb’s Dog Rescue with the paperwork they need to cross the border, including their proof of rabies vaccination.

Hiring a transport service: If you are short on time and need to fly home, but your new dog is too big to fit on a plane inside the cabin with you, consider hiring a transport service to drive your dog back. Our supporters have used Citizen Shipper with great results. Simply visit their website and select the city to which your dog is headed. Within minutes, you will likely receive several bids. Prices vary depending on the distance. A recent transport from Tucson to Minneapolis cost $1,500, or $2,000 for two dogs. The adopter was able to track the driver’s location, and received detailed updates and videos.


Flying with your new dog is possible, but you’ll need to plan ahead. Your dog will need an American rabies certificate and a health certificate in order for them to fly. Call the American veterinarian you plan to use ahead of time to clarify their criteria to sign off on the dog’s health certificate. Some vets require that the dog have been in the United States for 30 days before they will issue a health certificate. Additionally, each state has their own rules about how long you must own the dog before they allow them to fly into their state. For example, Minnesota requires three weeks of ownership. If the dog is small enough to ride on the plane with you, they can join you on any flight for a fee. To qualify, their airline-approved kennel needs to fit under your seat, and they have to be able to stand and turn around comfortably. Chewy offers several options that you can order online. For dogs that need to fly in cargo, currently American Airlines is the only airline on which dogs are permitted. There are a number of requirements (see this webpage for helpful information), and call American Airline’s cargo line at 1-800-227-4622 to make sure your dog qualifies. Dogs are not allowed to fly cargo from Arizona between the months of May and September Outdoor temperature must be between 45-85 degrees in both the departure and arrival cities They have rules about the types of kennels allowed They will need: Dog’s exact weight, plus the weight of the kennel Dog’s breed Dog’s age Rabies vaccination proof and health certificate – an original AND a copy You’ll need to arrive at the cargo area four hours before your flight

And one last thing! We love updates! Send us photos of your dog enjoying their new life with you. We often feature adopted dogs on our social media pages!

Come visit Barb’s Dog Rescue in Puerto Peñasco. We are excited to help you expand your family!

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