As schools let out for summer and the rising temperatures coax Mumbaikars to seek cooler climes, pet parents in the city face a quandary — leave your pooch or cat behind or take them along on a fun-filled journey meant for the entire family?
“The problem with taking them along on road trips is that restaurants along the way aren’t pet-friendly. And airlines need a lot of paperwork. Also, information related to pet travel isn’t always available, so one doesn’t know what one needs or doesn’t,” says Shakti Salgaokar, a writer and parent to Bono, her beloved pooch.
Taking your dog or cat along on holidays calls for some real planning, especially for the first-time traveller. For domestic and international travel, certain documents and certificates are required in order to receive a clearance to travel with pets. If you are headed abroad, each country also has its own set of rules. “Although most countries allow you to enter with your pet, some impose restrictions on last-minute or short-term travellers. It is best to call the embassy or consulate of your destination country and your choice of airline to confirm and know more about the regulations on pet travel,” says Vishal Suri, deputy chief operating officer, tour operating, Kuoni India.
With respect to India, pets may be carried on selected flights as guest baggage or shipped as cargo. But keep in mind that some breeds are better suited for travel than others. “For example, snubbed-nose pooches, like bulldogs and pugs, as well as cats have breathing issues in pressurised cabins. So most airlines do not allow them on board,” says Shirin Merchant, canine behaviourist and trainer.
And whether it is a road, train or plane journey, investing in an AITA approved crate is a good idea. “They have enough space to stand and sit and have good ventilation,” says Vinayak Prabhu, director, Pet Vacations, an organisation that looks after pet relocation and holidays.
He adds that he, his wife and pooch had gone to Kerala last year by train and it was an enjoyable experience. “We booked an entire compartment and I carried a printout of all the stations the train would stop at en route, so we could stretch our legs. Going on a holiday with your pet need not be a hassle, it could be a wonderful experience,” he says.
By road: Travelling short distances in a car is not strenuous for your pet. Just ensure that you halt several times to ensure that your pet can stretch his/her legs.
By rail: The Indian Railways allows you to bring your pet on board, so long as you book the entire first AC compartment. Just remember to carry a list of stations the train halts at, so that your pet has time to run about.
By plane: Jet Airways, Spice and Air India allow pets on domestic airlines as do several international carriers. Opt for direct flights as the airlines will not transfer your pet during the changeover. However, you need to inform the airlines that you will be bringing a pet along, 24 hours in advance.
Go to the airport three to four hours before time and head to the check-in counter. Weigh your pet’s crates (has to be according to AITA specifications) and pay the necessary charge. You need to carry the most recent vaccination records as well as a fit-to-fly certificate from any vet.
- Vinayak Prabhu of Pet Vacations
Train your pooch
Buy the pooch’s crate well in advance and get your dog accustomed to it. Put his/her favourite toy or treat inside and let your pooch get used to sitting inside it. Leave the door open, however, to ensure that your pet feels safe inside. On the day of the journey, exercise your dog extensively, so that he sleeps for the entire duration of the flight. Remember, it is against AITA rules to sedate animals on the flight.