With Memorial Day right around the corner, many of us are eager to be a part of the anticipated very busy summer travel season. But as we look to get away, it’s important to take our pets into consideration – whether they’re traveling with us or not.
Now is a perfect time to make sure their ID tags and microchip information are up to date. Should you become separated, these are important tools that can drastically increase the likelihood of a happy reunion.
If you’re traveling by car, make sure your dog is secure by using a seatbelt harness, crate, doggie hammock, safety divider, among others. If traveling with a cat or another small animal, keep them in a carrier to ensure that they’re safe. Be sure to stop frequently for bathroom, water, and fresh air breaks as well.
Plan ahead: Make sure you are permitted to bring your pet with you. Upon arrival at your destination, give your pets time to get acquainted with their new surroundings, and set up a space specifically for them with familiar blankets and toys so they have a place to go if they’re feeling anxious.
When outdoors, keep your canine on a leash. Remember your companion will be in unfamiliar surroundings and the chance to get lost is high. Also be sure they have frequent access to shade and fresh water.
If you’re planning to board your pet, do your research. There are currently no state-wide regulations or standards for daycare and boarding facilities, so it’s up to you to advocate for your pet and make an informed decision on where they will be staying while you’re away.
The Animal Rescue League of Boston’s (ARL) safety campaign “The Kennel-9” suggests nine key things to think about when choosing a facility. Before making the decision of where to board your pet, consider the following:
• See it for yourself. Are you able to see the kennels and common areas where your pet will be boarded?
• Emergency procedures. Does the facility have working smoke and carbon monoxide detectors, sprinkler systems, back-up power generator and written procedures for emergency situations?
• Operating license. Does the facility have a current operating license issued by the city or town and, according to the license, how many animals are allowed to be boarded at one time?
• Medical emergency. Will you be contacted if your animal experiences an unexpected medical emergency or injury? Furthermore is there a veterinarian on staff or on stand-by?
• Staff ratios. What is the staff to animal ratio and is there 24-hour supervision?
• Common areas. Do dogs play together in a common area, is playtime supervised, and are dogs separated by size and/or temperament? Do you also have the option to have your dog not participate in group activity?
• Infection precautions. Does the facility require up-to-date vaccination records for admission?
• Feline accommodations. Does the facility board cats and if so, are they separated from the sight and noise of dogs?
• Get it in writing. Will the facility give you written documentation of their procedures or confirmation for any special requests for your pet?
We certainly all deserve time away; however if you are traveling for Memorial Day or any time in the upcoming months, please include your pets in the planning process – it will make for a more relaxing and worry-free break for every member of your family!
Dr. Edward Schettino is the President and CEO of the Animal Rescue League in Boston. He has a Doctorate of Veterinary Medicine from the Cummings School of Veterinary Medicine at Tufts University. Pet questions? Email ARL at firstname.lastname@example.org.