Pet travel safety is something we don’t always give enough thought to. Whether it be by car, or by plane, we do have to make special arrangements to ensure the safety of our pets when travelling.
In the car, we can restrain our pets with a “seat belt” or in a kennel. The reason we need to restrain a pet properly is twofold.
First, for the protection of the pet. A free roaming pet in a car can get into any number of predicaments. Like getting stuck under a seat, falling out a window, chewing on something inappropriate, or even having a potty accident. By retraining the pet with a seatbelt, you can stop them roaming and getting in trouble.
Secondly, any item in your car that is not tied down can become a projectile in the case of an accident. A pet flying through the air inside a vehicle can be injured, and worse, it can injure the human occupants. Airbags will stop you from hitting the dash, windshield or steering wheel, but they won’t stop the pet from possibly hitting you, or going through the windshield.
There are many options for seatbelts, but one thing they all have in common is a very strong harness with a padded chest strap. How they attach to the car varies, some directly clip into the belt buckle receiver, others will loop around the connected seatbelt. Making sure you have the harness properly sized and adjusted is important, not done properly, you will not get the full protection they offer. Most seatbelt harnesses can be used as a walking harness as well, making getting in and out of the car simpler.
Using a crate/kennel while travelling, you know exactly where they are, and if they do have an accident, or get carsick, the mess is contained. Make sure that the kennel/crate is properly assembled and secured, or placed where it cannot become a projectile in an accident.
We are seeing a large increase in people flying with their pets, and at the same time, many airlines are restricting the number of pets allowed on each flight. Oddly, the passenger allotment for pets is one number, while the number of pets allowed as cargo may be a completely different number.
Carrying a pet in cabin is something you should definitely make arrangements for well in advance of your flight. Only the smallest of companion animals can fit into the designated size of case approved for carry on by most airlines, each of which may have a different allowed set of dimensions. Please get your case pre-approved by an airline official, and make sure that they are ok with your pet fitting in the case. The last thing you want when heading on a family vacation is to have them deny you at boarding because your case is not right.
If the pet is going below in cargo, making sure you have a proper kennel approved by that airline is something you should again do far in advance. If they advise you that the spots for the passenger allotment are already taken, you can check with the cargo division if they have space available. The rates can be substantially different (cargo being higher), but at least your pet can get on the flight. Again, prearrange and get your crate pre-approved. Most airlines require a zip tied or locked door, and that the case be zip tied or bolted together, not just relying on the manufacturers clips to hold it together.
When getting pre-approval for cases/crates, make sure you have a hard copy that notes the flights and dates you are travelling, the case/crate that is being approved, the pet that is travelling and the airline employee’s name and signature approving the case/crate/pet.
A little time invested pre-trip can save a host of problems when you start your journey. For everyone’s sake, don’t leave it to last minute.