Guilt Trip: Biggest Worries of Pet Owners Who Travel

Most don't trust airlines with their pets, but feel guilty about leaving them in a kennel. A surprising percentage admit to smuggling their animal friends onto a plane or into a hotel

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Eager Dog Companion in the Passenger Seat

Pet lovers always have always carried the burden of concern for their animal friends – especially when traveling. A new study from DogVacay.com, an online home pet boarding service, reveals just how heavy that burden can be: 75% of pet owners don’t trust airlines to safely care for pets in cargo; 73% feel guilty about leaving their pets at a kennel; and 15% admit to smuggling a pet onto a plane or into a hotel room. Others have simply given up the battle to hit the road with their animal companions altogether: 48% of people surveyed say they travel less since acquiring a pet.

(MORE: Americans Prefer Dogs — but Dream of Tigers, Giraffes)

While DogVacay paid for the survey, it commissioned the independent market research firm Harris Interactive to poll 1,423 adult pet owners using an online questionnaire. “People still want to travel and live their lives,” says Aaron Hirschhorn, co-founder and CEO of DogVacay. The main concern, Hirschhorn tells TIME, is the guilt factor that makes traveling less enjoyable for pet owners. “This is like traveling without your child and there’s a lot of anxiety around finding a babysitter or dogsitter.”

Looking at cost, DogVacay.com finds that respondents spent an extra $247 annually in traveling with pets due to airline and hotel fees. Leaving pets home cost pet parents an extra $486 due to pet care and accommodations.

Most pet owners said they rely on friends or family to watch pets, but half of respondents said they feel bad for asking.  Airlines and hotels could do a better job in accommodating pets, but finding a service “that makes you feel good,” Hirschhorn says, is the best solution.

MORE: Comfort Creatures

The question of how to better care for pets while traveling is a growing concern in the U.S. As a whole, American families have more pets than children. According to a survey by the American Pet Product Association (APPA), Americans share their homes with 78.2 million dogs and 86.4 million cats. In contrast, there were 73,728,088 u.s. children as of July 2012, according to the U.S. Census Bureau.

36 comments
SaraPortman
SaraPortman

We hire a pet sitter when we go out of town. She spends the night so we know our dogs are not stressed by leaving the house.

DozerSDiT
DozerSDiT

 @NicoleSavino @Cheysuli1 Service Animals, under the Americans with Disabilities Act, are not required to be "certified". However,most airlines require documentation on the animal being required for a disability. However, even though certification is not required, the ADA only allows certain animals to be Service Animals. Since they aren't required to be certified, it is fairly easy to cheat the system. 

taborkimzey
taborkimzey

@DozerSDiT @NicoleSavino @Cheysuli1 Incorrect.  Service Animals ARE required to have documentation that they are service animals.  At the hotel where I am the Front Desk Mgr, we charge a $50 pet fee.  You will pay the fee unless you show valid documentation that your dog is a certified service dog.  If you take your dog to an old folkd home once a week to cheer people up that is awful nice, but that does NOT make your dog a "service" dog.  Those of you that cheat the system give people with legitimate need of a service animal a bad name.  You should be ashamed of yourself if you tell someone your dog is a service dog and it isn't.  It's like claiming you are a disabled veteran but you were never in the armed services.  You sicken me.

AnnNonymous1
AnnNonymous1

@taborkimzey, it is no wonder why there is confusion over what is legal and not when there are self-appointed experts such as yourself who apparently make up your own interpretation of the laws out of whole cloth. For the actual substance of the law, please see the Justice Department's publication "ADA Business Brief: Service Animals" at http://www.ada.gov/svcanimb.htm It reads in part:

  • Businesses may ask if an animal is a service animal or ask what tasks the animal has been trained to perform, but CANNOT REQUIRE SPECIAL ID cards for the animal ["certification"] or ask about the person's disability.

  • People with disabilities who use service animals CANNOT BE CHARGED EXTRA FEES, isolated from other patrons, or treated less favorably than other patrons. However, if a business such as a hotel normally charges guests for damage that they cause, a customer with a disability may be charged for damage caused by his or her service animal.

I hope that the hotel that you work for will change your policies before someone takes you to court to enforce your compliance with the law.

MikeyMistersunsetboulevard
MikeyMistersunsetboulevard

I'm personally not a flyer. I prefer road trips. I love traveling with my pets. Something about their presence has a calming effect on me.. and by traveling, I mean  those road trips. I sincerely love road trips and the discovery of our surroundings that they afford us; and something about the presence of a dog enriches that free spirited road trip experience for me. Maybe it's the fact that they don't talk back, and yet we both have an unspoken of bond and companionship. But some of my fondest memories is getting in a car, with my two dogs, and driving to a new town I want to discover and having them along for the ride. Not only does it make them more social, but they make the experience more enjoyable for me. As for long distance travel, there's plenty of pet hotels.

Cheysuli1
Cheysuli1 like.author.displayName 1 Like

Pet Airways was a private company founded specifically for flying pets across the U.S. in small jets.   The cabin was completely dedicated to the animals, and there were caregivers on board.  Unfortunately, probably because of the economy, they are in financial trouble and may not begin operating again.  But for several years it was a wonderful service.  (Owners had to fly other airlines.)

I did have to laugh about the $247 annual amount average quoted in the article for traveling with pets, including airlines.  Actual costs to fly--for round trip, since I assume the pets are returning with their humans!--average $300 to $550, depending on the carrier, in the cargo hold.  I show dogs and occasionally fly with one or two of them to our national show, and I also occasionally ship puppies, so I'm quite familiar with the costs involved. 

As someone mentioned, petsitters are a wonderful resource.  I live alone, so I use one regularly whenever I travel.  Much better for the animals, who remain in familiar surroundings.  But at around $50/day, that adds up in a hurry.  And because of the economy, I haven't been traveling as much as I used to.  Fortunately, more hotels are accepting pets nowadays.  La Quinta in particular is good one, as they allow pets in all of their hotels and do not charge a pet deposit.  (No, I do not work for LQ.)

More and more people are claiming their animals are therapy/service animals when they are not, but I understand the ADA is going to crack down on that.   Me,I just wish we could buy a seat for a well-behaved animal.  They usually have better manners than many of the humans on board!


NicoleSavino
NicoleSavino

@Cheysuli1 It is extremely sad that people are trying to claim them as service animals when they aren't. What I don't understand is how people can cheat the system, it is super hard to get an animal certified... as for the airlines flying pets, hopefully they get back on their feet. With all these awful stories about animals getting loose, I don't blame people for not wanting to take their pets anywhere. 

ElizabethAspen
ElizabethAspen

I traveled with my three cats on United 7 years ago and they LOST them. They did not get them onto my connecting flight. I found this out mid-flight and started to panic because the stews and the pilot could not give me any info about where they were and I had five more hours on the plane to sit there , crying and worrying about them. When I got to the airport, I had to scream and yell for anyone at United to find them for me. Finally they came in on the next flight, but I didn't even get so much as an apology. NEVER again will I travel with my animals. I recommend everyone find a petsitter you can trust, have them come in every day to check on your pets and play with them, or even stay at your home while you are gone. It's like the difference between staying at a cold, sterile Hilton or a quaint, homey bed and breakfast. 

MartieAnderson
MartieAnderson

There is one main component left out of this article.  Pet Sitters!!  It is a growing industry and is one of the most comforting ways to take care of your pets while you are gone.  Your pet stays in its natural surrounding, on their normal schedule and is played with,, loved and fed as if the owner were there.

WillJamison
WillJamison like.author.displayName like.author.displayName 2 Like

There needs to be an airline that does nothing but fly people WITH their caged pets in the cabin. Say, one single departure a day from each major city. One full fare for me and same for my dog. People WILL rearrange their schedules and pay the extra money.

SallyHodges
SallyHodges

Lufthansa has the pet thing in Europe all worked out. You can take your dog or cat into the cabin. Other pets are checked in and put into a climate-controlled place in the cargo hold. Lufthansa guarantees your pet will transfer to the same plane as you, so you both arrive at your destination together. If your layover at the airport is 3 hours or more, the Frankfurt Airport has a pet center! The staff at the pet center are skilled animal caretakers and there's veterinarians on staff too. They take your pet out of it's travel case and put it into a larger cage where it can run around. They give it food and water. They even examine your pet to make sure everything is normal and not stressed out.

Lufthansa has gone the extra mile to take care of pets. On the high speed train in France, you can take your pet in its travel case and they will even let you go First Class. And unlike the airlines, you can take pets besides dogs and cats in the cabin. So, that means my beautiful longhair guinea pig will be able to sit right next to me in her travel case on the train!

What America needs is a good train system like France and Japan. And United, which breaks guitars, well... who would put a pet on one of their aircraft? Would you???

LyndaElaine
LyndaElaine

I have flown with cats several times in the cabin and had cats flown to me in cargo. Never had a problem. I have however had a problem with people who think they can take their little dogs out in the airplane. They can't. This one woman simply ignored the instructions from the attendants. My cat stayed under the seat where she belonged. 

Anyone who 'smuggles' a pet, probably a dog, onto an airplane because they are too cheap to buy a transport ticket for the cabin are inconsiderate jerks. What if there is someone on board allergic to dogs? What if your dog, not in a proper carrier, gets loose?  You are just plain irresponsible on a whole lot of levels. 

As for smuggling your animal into a hotel. As someone who has worked at many a hotel, you may think you are being slick but once again you are just being cheap and inconsiderate. Hotels that allow pets have specific rooms set aside. The extra charge if for the extra cleaning that has to be done each time a person with a pet checks out. No matter how clean you think your mutt is, he isn't.  Everything has to be cleaned - carpet, bedspreads etc...items that are not cleaned after every check out. 

The next person that checks into your the room you snuck your little snowflake in maybe allergic to pet dander. Every think about anyone else? 


As for the chick below that says she got her cat certified as a service animal? Not through the ADA she didn't. Unless an animal has been trained to provide a specific service, it can't be certified. Holding your kitty because it makes you feel better isn't a service. And he shouldn't have been in your lap. I have also never had a TSA agent handle my cat in an airport. They only want the carrier. We go to a private room, I take him/her out and they take the carrier and run it through the xray machine. Easy, stress free and no cats in an airport movie in the works.  You Nicole are full of it. 

MikeyMistersunsetboulevard
MikeyMistersunsetboulevard

@LyndaElaine You sound awfully angry and militant. Our pets are our family and companions and you sound like you want to make us feel guilty for that, and I don't know any dog owners who sneak their dog into a hotel that isn't pet friendly. Never met one, and I know many a dog owners. I think you're one of those folks who's just venting your disdain over the affection and love some of us have for our beloved dogs. I take my dog where he is allowed, including beach pier, outdoor patio dinning, strolls, walks, park, outdoor shopping centers, and book stores that allow him. It's a free society, and my minding my own business and having my companion by my side (in appropriate venues) is part of my personal freedom as a tax paying citizen. Frankly, I wish we'd more often discuss unruly, bratty, out of control kids and the parents who REFUSE to discipline their child on how to act accordingly in public.

NicoleSavino
NicoleSavino

@LyndaElaine In hawaii they handle the cats/dogs for an exam upon arrival as Hawaii has no rabies. There are a series of steps to bring an animal here. It wasn't TSA who handled my cat, it was a "vet" who works for the state to examine every animal that comes through the airport. 

NicoleSavino
NicoleSavino

@LyndaElaine I can post a picture of his ID cards...he is truly certified. Read post below. My husband has asthma which is counted as a disability by the ADA and our cat does alert us to attacks before even he realizes that he needs his inhaler. 

NicoleSavino
NicoleSavino like.author.displayName 1 Like

We had our cat certified as a service animal when we moved from Nevada to Hawaii. Due to HI's quarantine laws, animals (who are not service animals) must ride in Cargo regardless of size. Because we had Gizmo certified, he was able to sit in his carrier on my lap for the flight. It also kept him out of quarantine (he bit the lady at the airport when she was "checking" him over because he was scared). HNL has awful animal handlers;

straydog
straydog like.author.displayName 1 Like

Are you saying you had your pet 'certified' as a service animal in order to circumvent pet restrictions/policies? That is certainly what your post implies. If so, you should be ashamed, as it does a huge disservice to people with legitimate service animals---and by legitimate, I mean service animals trained to perform specific task(s) to mitigate a disability as defined by federal law. Emotional Support Animals or Therapy Animals, which are not trained and are for comfort purposes, are not considered service animals by federal law and are not allowed the same rights. 

When someone tries to pass off their PET as a service animal it creates more confusion, frustration and hostility for disabled people whose service animals are immediately thought to be untrained pets until forced to prove otherwise.

But hey...you didn't have to quarantine your cat that bit someone. That's cool, right?

LyndaElaine
LyndaElaine

@straydog Exactly. I addressed that in a separate post. Nicole is full of it. 

NicoleSavino
NicoleSavino

@LyndaElaine @straydog Umm, no, didn't lie. We had to have him certified through our doctor and we do use him as a service animal for asthma. No lying about it though. Gizmo had to be seen alerting my husband to an asthma attack which he did. Should have elaborated more in my original post but didn't think I would need to. We never thought of certifying him before the flight though. That got us to think about it. But no, I did not cheat the system and would not dream of doing so. Way to have faith in humanity people..

TomJ44
TomJ44 like.author.displayName like.author.displayName like.author.displayName 3 Like

best friends one will ever have...unconditional love period!

Trvlprsn
Trvlprsn like.author.displayName like.author.displayName like.author.displayName 3 Like

@ATLWmn  ATLWmn  You're right.  Animal's aren't people.  They're kind, gentle, forgiving, NOT destructive and don't cause nearly as much torture and devastation in this world as humans do.  Also, they are the only beings on the planet besides your mother who will love you unconditionally and with a loyalty that you couldn't imagine.  They're much better than people.  I strive everyday to be as beautiful as they are.  

PetrochelyVargasCepin
PetrochelyVargasCepin like.author.displayName like.author.displayName 2 Like

@Trvlprsn @ATLWmn Wow thank God there are still  people like you  in this world that think just as you do Trvlprsn. I could not have say it better !!!! 100 % agree with your comment !! thank you

ATLWmn
ATLWmn

Or you can realize that it's an animal and will do just fine without you for a little while.  Kennels nowadays are better than some day cares and camps for children!  I've done a good bit of traveling and the last thing on my mind of worries is my pet.  Of course, I chose the less demanding cat over the neediness of a dog.  Cats are cool for a week without you, as long as they have sufficient food, water, and maybe a friend to stop by every day or two to check on them.  Animals are not people, folks.  

SallyHodges
SallyHodges

There is something special about a pet.  A bond forms between pet and master that is unbreakable.  This also happens with highly schooled dressage horses.   I raise purebred longhaired guinea pigs.  Now, you wouldn't think a guinea pig would be very smart or much of a pet.  But each little pig has a distinct personality.  My free roam because I potty trained them.  There is one in particular who never grew up.  At three years old, he still has the playful personality of a baby, he comes to me when I call him, and he loves to snuggle.  Most of the adult pigs are happy getting their food and they like some attention.  But mostly, they play with each other and sleep a lot.  The reason I took one of my guinea pigs on a trip is because she is a show animal.  My friend cared for all my other pigs, but she doesn't have the time to attend to a show animal.  So, I took the guinea pig with me so I could take care of her and keep her in show shape.  The show life a guinea pig is very short.  5 months is their prime exhibition age and after 1 year, their fur is no longer as lush.  Shorthaied guinea pig and pet class pigs can show into their old age.  But the judges are so picky about the coats of the longhaired ones that it becomes a real challenge to the exhibitor, which makes it fun as well.  So, there are reasons people travel with pets. Quite frankly, I would rather have a little dog or a cat in a travel case behind me than some spoilt brat kicking my seat with parents who think their child is a little darling, so they never discipline him/her for obnoxious behavior.  Just saying...

MikeyMistersunsetboulevard
MikeyMistersunsetboulevard

@SallyHodges Your last sentence was so poignant, and you nailed it. Having just recently left a movie showing where parents insisted on bringing their brats (whom they chose to have, not the rest of us) to a 9 PM showing, while the kids talked, screamed and made a fuss. So tired of parents who A.) can't teach their kids discipline and B.) Can't hire a babysitter for said kids.

TomJ44
TomJ44 like.author.displayName like.author.displayName like.author.displayName 3 Like

they are superior to people in many ways........learn from it

Mytwoandahalfcents
Mytwoandahalfcents like.author.displayName like.author.displayName 2 Like

@ATLWmn, leaving a cat alone for a week without clean litter and water is just asking for trouble.  Animals are not people, but they have feelings and physical needs.  Before they got sick I would leave them for MAX of 2 and 1/2 days (enough time to drive to parents, spend a day and drive back) and worried the whole time, now that isn't an option anymore.  One of my sisters did what you do and came home to find that her cats had defecated all over the house once the litter boxes were full.  Her oldest cat was so stressed by the event that he refused to use any of the old litter boxes and she had to get all new ones and spread them throughout the house.  I used to have a cat that if I was away for more than a couple days, she'd show me her displeasure by throwing up on my bed for a week after I got back.  If you have a cat now that doesn't have a problem, then treasure it, because every cat has a different personality and the next one you get could be the original clinging vine type.

LyndaElaine
LyndaElaine

@Mytwoandahalfcents @ATLWmn  ATL didn't say the cat was left without food or water or even clean litter. Read ATL's post again and get your knee out of your hind end. Just because you have neurotic cats does't mean everyone else does. Some of us do have lives outside of our pets. We provide for them while we are gone. jeez

MikeyMistersunsetboulevard
MikeyMistersunsetboulevard

@LyndaElaine @Mytwoandahalfcents @ATLWmn Just because YOU are threatened by the love, companionship and affection we have for our pets doesn't mean we need to bow down to your angry, resentful, bitter, jaded demands. Where I go out in public (not restaurants or stores where they are not allowed) my well behaved loving dogs accompany me. And here's something that will REALLY ruffle you and Atlwmn's feathers....my dogs have amazing beds, top notch food, get vitamins, even have spa days. Really just irks you doesn't it? Good. Maybe it will remind you to be a little less judgmental to people who consider their pets a part of the family, and not just a prop with a pulse at home. Some of us actually do get our pet for the companionship and bond, and forming of memories...including outside the home (with my very well behaved dogs). Don't like it? bored and want to dictate my existence? too bad, so sad. Get a hobby. Going to give my two dogs a big, warm fuzzy hug right now (but not before their expensive organic turkey liver treat)...don't be mad.

SallyHodges
SallyHodges like.author.displayName 1 Like

In my experience, there are 4 types of pet owners.  The first is the professional exhibitor who has animals as objects simply to win prizes.  These are the people who sell a fine horse simply because it did not qualify for the youth nationals.  They buy animals based on whether it can win.  The second type is the doting pet owner who thinks their pet is without fault and everyone should love it too.  They don't train their dogs, their cats are spoilt, and their parrots damage their furniture because in the owner's eye, it can do nothing wrong.  We all know and despise these people.  Then there are pet owners who have a working animal to perform a usefule function.  For example, a schutzenhund, service dog for the disabled, a companion for an elderly or lonely person,  etc.  These are highly trained animals with excellent behavior and they are a joy to be around.  Then, there is the pet owner who has an innate understanding of animals and loves them.  Their animals are well-behaveed, socialized and obedient.  They are well cared for, clean, and a joy to be around.  The pet owner loves them like a family member, but realizes the difference between a human being and their pet.  They never confuse one with the other.  There is a name for such people:  responsible pet owner.

How_to_Fly_Your_Dog_to_Europe
How_to_Fly_Your_Dog_to_Europe

We flew our Jack Russell Terrier (Archie) with us from Vancouver to Europe last year. Between worrying about Archie's safety and tracking down the regulations/paperwork requirements, it was an incredibly stressful process. In the end everything worked out (KLM is wonderful with dogs, FYI), but I wish I could have booked him a seat on the plane instead of flying him in baggage. I was a stressed-out mess from the moment we decided to fly to the moment I met Archie in baggage claim in Amsterdam.

If anyone needs to fly their dog from Canada or the US to Europe, I wrote an ebook that explains the whole process step by step..international regulations for 2013, vaccination and paperwork requirements, airlines rules, safety tips, etc.  It's called "How to Fly Your Dog to Europe" and is available on Amazon or at http://http://flyyourdog.com.

SallyHodges
SallyHodges

Delta Airlines is very good with animals if you need to transport one from another state and you are not flying as a passenger.  I imported several pygmy goats at various times from California to Michigan.  One time, when I went to Detroit Metro Airport to pick up a baby goat, I was just amazed when I arrived at Delta's cargo office.  The little goat was sitting in the manager's lap and another employee was feeding her some carrots!  It seems there are some animal lovers who work for the airline and well... there's nothing cuter and more loveable than a little baby pygmy goat, lol!

Theo
Theo

I also wrote a book called "How to Fly Your Dog's and Cat's Staff to Everywhere" and is availabe on Amazon and Craiglist.