LET THE FUR FLY
Want to take your four-legged friends on holiday? Here’s how
Pigs can’t fly, right? Well, yes and no. A pig and its owner were recently kicked off a US Airways flight after the porky pet became disruptive before takeoff. While you can’t take a piggy on a plane in Australia, that doesn’t mean you can’t take your dog or cat on holiday. Virgin Australia even rewards pet owners with frequent flyer points for their jetsetting pooch (or kitty).
There is only one way to stop your fur baby from giving you the cold shoulder when you return home from your travels, and that is to take them with you.
CAN MY PET TRAVEL BY PLANE?
Only service dogs are permitted to travel in a plane’s passenger cabin in Australia, but other animals can be accommodated in the cargo hold in a pet transport crate. “The crate must be large enough for your pet to stand up, turn around and lie down in,” says Ali Webster, executive manager of freight and catering at Qantas. “It must also have a water bowl big enough for the journey that is easily accessible by your pet and fillable from outside the cage.”
Dogs and cats are welcome on Virgin Australia flights while Qantas also accepts rabbits, guinea pigs and domestic fish and birds.
“Visit your vet before flying with your pet to ensure they are fit and healthy to fly,” Webster says. “Also ensure your pet has time to get familiar with its travel crate a few weeks or months before travelling. And finally, remember to put a favourite comfort toy or blanket in with them.”
CAN I TAKE MY PET OVERSEAS?
Some airlines such as KLM, Air France, United Airlines and US Airways will let you bring small pets into the passenger cabin on domestic flights. However, you will need to get your furry friend overseas first.
Due to the complexity of quarantine laws and to ensure your pet’s wellbeing, an approved International Pet and Animal Transportation Association (ipata.org) agent should be used if you are flying internationally.
ANY TIPS FOR FLYING?
Consider flying early in the morning or in the late afternoon to minimise the chance of heat stress, particularly if you are travelling to or from a warm destination. On the day of travel, give your pet the opportunity to go to the toilet, stretch and exercise before check-in at the cargo terminal.
“Customers and their pets should arrive 90-120 minutes before departure” Webster says.
“Completing the relevant paperwork online in advance will save you time.”
Do not medicate your pet. “We urge people not to sedate their pet as it’s important for us to tell if they are sick or sleepy when we check on them at different points in the journey,” Webster says.
WHAT ABOUT A ROAD TRIP?
Thirty minutes into an eight-hour car journey is not the time to discover your pet gets car sick, so do a trial run first if they aren’t used to travelling by car. An approved dog vehicle restraint (or pet carrier for smaller animals) will help to ensure everyone has a safe and comfortable journey. Make regular stops so your pet can stretch their legs and go to the toilet, but keep them on a lead so they don’t run away. If you would like to travel to or from Tasmania but would prefer not to fly, your pet can travel in one of the Spirit of Tasmania’s purposebuilt kennels for $22 each way.
WHAT ABOUT ACCOMMODATION?
Joanne Keown from BIG4 Gold Coast Holiday Park says owners should always tell their accommodation provider they are travelling with a pet.
“You should definitely let them know in advance,” she says.
“Even if a holiday park (or other accommodation option) is pet friendly, not all cabins may be suitable for pets.”
While your dog or cat should never be allowed to roam free, it can
REMEMBER TO PUT A FAVOURITE COMFORT TOY OR BLANKET IN WITH THEM
be a good idea to ensure their microchip owner-contact details are up to date just in case they do wander off. Attaching an ID tag to their collar makes it even easier for a good Samaritan to reunite you.
WHAT ABOUT LEAVING THEM BEHIND?
If your pet is staying home, you can leave them at a cattery or kennel or with a housesitter. The best boarding facilities get booked up well in advance, so don’t leave it too late. Ask friends for recommendations or visit nearby facilities and choose the one you think your pet will like best.
If you would like someone to look after your pet in your home and can’t find a pet-loving housesitter using word of mouth, there are services that can help.
PetCloud, a website where pet owners can search a national network of trusted and policechecked pet sitters, is part-owned by RSPCA Queensland and a portion of the profits go back to the RSPCA to help animals in need.
Deb Morrison, founder of PetCloud, suggests arranging a meet-and-greet at your house to see how the petsitter interacts with your pet. “Go through your pet’s normal routine and talk about what you want the housesitter to do,” she says. “Don’t be afraid to go with your gut instinct if you are having doubts.”
If you organise the meet-andgreet a month or two in advance, there is still time to find another sitter if the first one isn’t a good fit.
ANIMAL ANTICS A Jack Russel terrier is all smiles while on holiday with its owners in Amalfi, Italy.