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.
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.
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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.