Whether you’re volunteering on an animal rescue relay transport, or paying a commercial pet transport service to move fluffy across the country, there are some important tips for you to know while transporting your pets.
1. Everyone has a plan…until they get punched in the face
Transporting pets or rescue animals is something that requires planning. But the best laid plans often do not happen that way. As Mike Tyson was famously quoted, when you get punched in the face your plan pretty much can be useless. What happens when your transport gets cancelled? What happens if there is an emergency mid-transport? How’s the weather looking? Any potential for illness or other complications? Having a plan for these situations ahead of time will let you be ready for that punch to the face.
2. Be prepared, not scared
Now that you have a plan, what are you doing to prepare for that plan. If you’re doing a rescue relay transport you should have a transport kit with the items that you may need along the way. In our digital day and age we rely very heavily on electronics. But what do you do if your cell phone runs out of juice or the GPS stops working due to bad weather? Be prepared with a backup if you’re not familiar with where you’re headed. Do you know who the parties involved with this transport are? Do you have their information and cell phones to get a hold of them? Preparing a little more up front will keep you from being worried along the way.
3. Objects may shift in flight
You’ve probably heard the flight attendant announcements many times before about objects that tend to shift in the overhead bins. But what if you are doing an animal rescue flight for rescue dogs? On your rescue dog flight did you consider the possibility that your cargo may get up and move? There are many tragic stories about situations where upon takeoff the animals followed their instincts when the plane tilted upwards and moved downhill only to throw off the center of gravity and cause a much bigger problem. Planning ahead by securing your passengers and crates is a good tactic to prevent this in flight situation.
4. Flight attendants are there for your safety
And speaking of flights for dogs, it’s always important to have a flight attendant on your animal rescue flight. If you’re the pilot in command, you need someone to tend to the passengers needs whether to reassure them, or to secure them should they manage to wrangle themselves free from their seat or enclosure. And the added benefit is someone to talk to that can talk back!
5. What goes down, will come up
No we’re not talking about planes anymore, but whatever you feed your animals on a pet transport or rescue relay transport, is likely to come up the way it went down. In other words, unless you are dealing with puppies or specifically instructed by the transport coordinator (on a rescue relay transport) or a veterinarian (on any other type of transport) it’s generally not advisable to give anything more than fresh water to animals in transit. While you might be tempted to give them a yummy treat or two (or three or four) or some great tasting dog food, you’ll likely not be as enamored with the idea when it’s clashing with your beautiful car interior colors.
6. Pugs not drugs
It probably goes without saying but we’re going to say it anyway; unless medically prescribed by a licensed veterinarian, it is not a good idea to give the animals drugs to calm them on a transport. Definitely rescue relay transport or other pet transport services can be stressful times for the animals. They’re in a situation that is not normal and they’re scared and you want to do whatever you can to calm them. But administering drugs can exacerbate the situation and should only be done in specific circumstances and under the care of a veterinarian.
7. We’re all in this together
Transporting animals whether for a rescue relay transport or moving your pet across the country can be stressful on you and the animals. But remember that particularly when you are working with volunteer rescue relay transport that we are all volunteers so give people the benefit of the doubt. Keep the drama and emotion and accusatory language out of this as much as possible and realize that everyone has the best intentions and just may need some friendly coaching or guidance. We’re all in this together.