Frequently Asked Questions:
Traveling with Pets or Animals
Click on questions to view the answer.
Are cargo holds safe for pets? Is is safe to ship my pet as cargo?
Can pets travel by bus, train or on ocean vessels?
If you decide to travel by train or bus, you may be disappointed. Currently (in the U.S.), Amtrak, Greyhound and other bus companies that travel interstate only allow service animals accompanied by passengers on board. Even small, caged animals are prohibited. Local commuter trains, such as New York's Metro North and Boston's Commuter Rail system, have their own policies and may permit animals. Contact the individual transportation company before planning your trip to find out their policies. If you are planning on taking a cruise, you may be equally disappointed. Only the QE2, which sails from New York to England and France, permits pets, but only if one of its fourteen kennel spaces is available. Companion animals are not allowed in cabins or to roam about on board. Check with Cunard Lines in advance for more specifics. We have been notified in May 2006 that the Queen Mary 2 also will take animals. Please check with the Cunard Lines to verify. A variety of books and web sites are available that list pet-friendly lodgings and transportation information. ASPCA Animal Watch - Spring 2000
Can you help me ship my pet from California to Brazil? Or from Dallas to New Orleans?
The quickest way to get your questions answered is to contact any one of our members listed on this website. As professional pet shippers, any of them would be able to answer any of your questions. Because each move has lots of variables, it is not possible for the administrative office of IPATA to provide information that would apply to your shipment. Only a professional can ask the specific questions to determine the best solution to shipping your pet.
How do I find quarantine requirements for a specific country?
Unfortunately there is no one source for quarantine and country requirements. Even our professional pet shippers must call the Embassies and Consulates to obtain the latest requirements for each shipment.
How do I start a pet taxi or pet shipping business?
All of our member companies are individually owned and operated. As such, they each establish their business practices based on their own research. And most of our professional pet shippers do long-distance-over-the-road-transportation and shipments by air - rather than just local taxi services. One criteria for membership is that our U.S. members must be licensed /registered with USDA as Intermediate Handlers or Class B Dealers. Most individuals that provide pet taxi services are not registered or licensed with USDA and, as such, do not qualify for membership. Under the U.S.'s Animal Welfare Act, professional pet shippers need to be either a USDA Intermediate Handler or a Class B Dealer. For a complete definition to see which applies to you, go to USDA's website at www.aphis.usda.gov/oa/awlicreg.html and look at the definitions for animal transporters, intermediate handlers and Class B Dealers. To obtain the registration or licensing requirements, you need to call the regional Animal Care Office that covers your state. The location and phone numbers are listed at the very bottom of USDA's web page listed above. Members outside the USA need to registered within their own country, if applicable.
While there is no rulebook or established guidelines on how to ship a pet, there are training courses available - both on line in the Members Only Section of IPATA’s website and at IPATA meetings held throughout the year.
- Regional meetings are held at the beginning of each year (usually in February, March or April). In conjunction with these meetings, a separate one day “Pet Shipping 101 Workshop” is often held which is provided for those new to pet shipping – new companies recently getting into the pet shipping business or new employees of long time companies who wish to use this course to augment their in-house training. The format is structured to provide basic "how-to" information and, more importantly, "where to" find answers to your questions. The regional meetings and workshop are only open to IPATA members or to those that have already submitted a membership application and it is currently in the process of being approved.
- Anyone (both members and non-members) are invited to attend the annual conference which is usually held in September, October or November.
For more information on the dates and locations for upcoming meetings, please go to http://www.ipata.org/upcoming-meetings-for-pet-shippers
Is tranquilization okay for my pets?
According to American Veterinary Medical Association (AVMA), air transport of sedated pets may be fatal. Over-sedation is the most frequent cause of animal deaths during airline transport and accounts for almost half of all deaths. Except in unusual circumstances, veterinarians should not dispense sedatives for animals that are to be transported. Little is known about the effects of sedation on animals that are under the stress of transportation and enclosed in cages at 8,000 feet or higher, the altitude at which cargo holds are pressurized. Additionally, some animals react abnormally to sedatives.
Although animals may be excitable while being handled during the trip to the airport and prior to loading, they probably revert to a quiescent resting state in the dark, closed cargo hold, and the sedatives may have an excessive effect. JAVMA, Vol 207, No.l 6, September 15, 1995 "An animal's natural ability to balance and maintain equilibrium is altered under sedation," noted Dr. Patricia Olson, a director of the American Humane Association (AHA). "When the kennel is moved, a sedated animal may not be able to brace and prevent injury." Increased altitude can also create respiratory and cardiovascular problems for dogs and cats that are sedated or tranquilized. Brachycephalic (pug or snub nosed) dogs and cats are especially affected. Insight, May/June 1997
Rather than tranquilizing, pre-condition your pet to its travel container. According to the Air Transport Association, "As far in advance of the trip as possible, let your pet get to know the flight kennel. Veterinarians recommend leaving it open in the house with an old sock or other familiar object inside so that your pet will spend time in the kennel. It is important for your dog or cat to be as relaxed as possible during the flight." "Air Travel for your Dog or Cat", Air Transport Assn of America, Sept 1991 From the International Air Transport Association: "The airline industry continues to warn owners and veterinarians against the use of sedatives/tranquilizers for dogs and cats being transported by air.
The effect of sedating drugs are unpredictable at air pressures inside an aircraft, which are equivalent to 8,000 ft altitude. At this pressure, the physiologic changes from sedatives/tranquilizers may be enhanced. There have been a number of instances where sedated pets traveling by air needed veterinary care to recover from the sedation. Some pets could not be revived. Occasionally, owners have given repeated doses to ensure a comfortable journey for their pet or when sedation did not follow a single dose. When questioned by airline personnel, many owners claim that their veterinarians had advised them to do so. Although sedatives/tranquilizers should never be repeated for animals traveling by air, sedated pets may have adverse reactions in pressurized aircraft even when single doses are administered at recommended dosages.
Animals can respond very differently to sedatives/tranquilizers under normal circumstances. Cats for instance, occasionally become more excited following the administration of "sedating" drugs. A tested and safe method for calming a pet is to transport the animal in a familiar crate or container, and without the use of sedating drugs. Once placed into the cargo environment, which is darkened after the door is shut, most animals will naturally relax and many will sleep. If sedatives or tranquilizers are used, the name of the drug (brand and generic) time of administration, dose and route of administration should all be clearly marked on the animal's container." IATA - International Air Transport Association
Why does an airline refuse to fly pets when it is too hot or cold?
For the welfare of the pets, many airlines may not to accept them as accompanied baggage with ticketed passengers during the severe cold or the hot summer months. During these same periods, airlines may accept pets booked as cargo, where there is greater control of the number of pets per plane, and temperatures and time of day of flights. This is the safest way for pets to fly during severe weather months. Most airlines are only accepting pets from FAA registered Intermediate Air Carriers (IAC) or licensed pet dealers.Professional pet shippers:
As professional pet shippers, registered with the FAA, we too must comply with airline requirements during seasons of extreme heat and cold. Professional pet shippers, because of their experience, often can find a way to comply with airline requirements and still ship the pet. It may not be the most economical and it may not be the most convenient for the owner but, as professionals, our primary focus is the well-being of the pet.
The bottom line in all this is that the cost to the pet owning public is far greater. The good news is that pets are getting the best possible care and their welfare is everyone's prime concern.
- Do not make the rules;
- Do not fly the planes;
- Do not control the weather;
- But they DO provide safe pet transportation!
You don't have a member listed in my area. How can I find one closer to my home?
Professional pet shippers are sort of like a travel agent. They don't have to be located in your city in order to make all arrangements from pickup at your home through quarantine & boarding in a foreign country and delivery to your door at your new home. Please feel confident in contacting any of the pet shippers listed on our website. If, for whatever reason, they cannot assist you, perhaps they can refer you to someone that can.
How do I select a kennel, or crate, to ship my pet by air?
Need some expert advice on what kind of crate to pick out for your pet to travel on an airplane? Watch this excellent presentation based on IATA, International Air Transport Association and LAR, Live Animals Regulation.
Guidelines for Pet Owners: Selecting a Kennel (or Crate) for Your Pet's Shipment by Air
Do I have to be an IPATA member to ship my pet?
You don't have to be an IPATA member to ship your pet. IPATA is an association of professionals that support the humane transport of animals. Using one of our members to ship your pet is a responsible way to make sure your pet will be treated with the utmost care.