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  • Writer's pictureAmanda Richardson

National Pet Travel Safety Day: Navigating Pet Travel Safely

This might seem like an odd post for a pet sitter to be penning but it is something I am passionate about. And here are two reasons why:

Amanda with her two Siberian Huskies, Echo and Ginger

Meet my furry travel companions Echo (left) and Ginger (right). Over the years I have had many canine travel companions and I have learned a lot from traveling with them. These two have a pretty sweet set up when we hit the road like we did this past November. Each of our girls has their own section in our dog box. Ginger had a lot of kennel/crate anxiety when we first brought her home so it was important for us that the inside of their travel compartment be free from snags that she could chip a tooth or tear a nail on. In addition to being smooth on the inside it is important to us that it be weather resistant and have proper air flow. For travel in extremely cold temperatures, we add some straw bedding to the compartments. Our dog box has storage on top so we always have access to leashes, collars, water, food, toys, etc. when we stop and let them relive themselves and stretch their legs. Our girls love their travel set up and are always calm and rested when we get to our destination. We will get back to car safety in a bit. I want to use this time I have with you to talk a bit about the evolution of travel safety when it comes to pets. We've actually come a long way!

Airline Travel Pet Safety

My clients often aske me if I have ever traveled on an airplane with my girls. I usually give a little laugh as I explain that I have a husband, three children, and two dogs... air travel is not affordable for our entire family. However, there was a time that my family was just me and my very first Siberian Husky, Keiki. She is the only Husky that I've owned that was not a rescue. I was young, dumb, and fresh out of the military. I bought her as a puppy from a reputable breeder. I didn't know then how many of these wonderful creatures end up lost or abandoned. But that is a different blog post. Anyway, the day she was scheduled to be delivered I was going to be in my home state of Louisiana participating in a good friend's wedding. So, puppy Keiki hopped a flight to Shreveport as a passenger in the cargo area. Hold on, take a deep breath! It isn't as bad as you think. There is a whole organization that has dedicated the last 50 years to ensuring pet safety and comfort during air travel, the International Air Transport Association.

The airline that she flew on took great care of her. Her crate was not soiled when I picked her up. She was clean and did not smell of urine or feces. She has been given the opportunity to go for a walk during her layover and was well hydrated and not stressed. It was a wonderful experience! The downside to it all was that her ticket was as expensive as my own flight. When the wedding weekend was over I decided to take her with me in the cabin for our return flight. I used an airline approved pet carrier, originally called a Sherpa bag, and Keiki became my personal item and flew home at my feet. This was also a wonderful experience. I felt like a VIP, I mean who wouldn't! Everyone wanted to see the adorable Husky puppy. So while I have not traveled on an airplane with my current girls, I can 100% recommend to my clients airline travel with their pets. It takes a bit of extra planning and costs a bit more, but it is worth the extra to know that you pet is in good hands and can enjoy your adventure with you.

On the Road Again: Innovations in Car Travel Pet Safety

As I am driving around town from one client's house to the next I see so many animals running free inside the car. While I LOVE for my girls to be my co-pilots, the crazy drivers, the things that are beyond my control scare me. Did you know that a 60-pound unrestrained dog can become a 2,700-pound projectile in the event of a crash? I know what you are thinking, "sure they can but I'm not on the interstate, I'm just going to the pick the kids up at school." Would it change your mind if I told you that the speed of that crash in which little Poochie became a giant projectile capable of killing human and canine passengers was just 35 miles per hour? Terrifying, right?!

In the 2010s states started tightening restrictions on unrestrained pets in moving vehicles. While this was a set forward for pet safety, there was a huge issue. There are still no standards for safely restraining animals. When you have a baby, you go to the store choose from a bazillion different car seats each one emblazoned with a label stating that it is certified to Federal Motor Vehicle Safety Standards. This is legally required by the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration. Great, let's go over to the pet store and get the same thing for Poochie...


Empty pet store shelves in the Pet Safety Restrains section

In steps the Center for Pet Safety, or CPS. This non-profit group started testing dog harnesses for crash safety in 2011. Great! Well, not so fast. Unfortunately, CPS has been unable to certify a dog harness for the protection of both dog and humans during a crash. Why, well, CPS identified 4 main issues:

  • Extremely low likelihood of survivability for the animal.

  • Danger to humans when the dog becomes a missile.

  • Choking and/or other bodily harm to the animal when harness materials cinch tightly upon impact.

  • Extensive damage to fixtures within the vehicle caused by the projectile animal.

Most of the dog safety harnesses on the market right now and certified by CPS attach to the seat belt at the dog's shoulders. While this is often effective at stopping them from hitting the seat in front of them, it still allows them to be flipped in unnatural ways and does not account for how a dog's body absorbs shock. A veteran in the industry and founder of Ruffwear, Patrick Kruse used this information to design the LoadUp Car Harness.

If you are anything like my family, you know that that there is little room for a pup to be seat belted in between car seats. So what are you safety options there. That is where kennels/crates and dog boxes come into play. A carefully fitted crate can limit the movement of your fur baby in the even of a crash. If it is properly restrained, it also keeps them from becoming projectiles that destroy anything in their way. We use an Owen's dog box with two compartments when we travel with our camper. We like this option because of its sturdy construction and secure attachment points. It also has ample storage capacity for all the of Ginger and Echo's luggage. While it fits very well in the back of my husband's pickup truck, I wouldn't want it in the cargo bay of my SUV. For that, I choose Gunner Kennels. In my opinion they are the best crate money can buy!

So now that we've gotten to our destination via trains, planes, or automobiles, let's chat about destination safety.

Wander Safely: Keeping pets safe with traveling in unfenced territory.

Echo and Ginger happily running through a forest with no fence in sight. They are wearing GPS collars and are within a no-dig GPS electronic fence.

The saying goes, "not all who wander are lost." Our family travels take us to some pretty untamed places, like the two weeks we spent camping in the wilderness surrounding Glacier National Park or even just the expanse of family property we enjoy in Louisiana. I've owned a few Huskies and I am always aware that, no matter how well they are trained and how often I work with them, they were bred for one thing, running long distances. They can reach speeds of 30 miles an hour and have been know to cover a distance of up to 150 miles in just one day. I would be heartbroken if one of my girls disappeared.

To combat that we have gotten both of our girls microchipped. But, when Ginger decided to chase a moose calf a couple of summers ago, we realized that was not enough. They now each have a Halo collar and I feel much better about not only finding them if they stray, but being able to contain them in unfenced territory be it a gas station parking lot potty break or free roam of 20 acres. This collar system has change the way we travel for the better. The dogs have more freedom and I have less stress. I would like to share a special offer with you because I know it can change your life, too. If you are interested in purchasing a Halo collar, email me and I will send you a coupon for $50 off.

In the vast sky of pet travel, ensuring our furry friends' safety is the highest priority. From IATA regulations and airline-approved carrying bags for in-cabin adventures to sturdy dog boxes, safety harnesses, and the innovative Halo collars, we've covered the essentials for a worry-free journey. As fellow pet enthusiasts, your experiences matter, and I'd love to hear about your travel tales and safety tips. Drop a comment below and let's create a collective resource of wisdom, making every journey a safe and joyous adventure for our beloved companions!

Still not wanting to travel with you pets? That's okay. Head on over to your to our Services page and read about what we offer before you book a stay with us!

Safe Travels,

Amanda's signature signing off of the blog post



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