When Pets Can’t Travel With You
Many of us enjoy traveling with our pets, but for those times that the family pet cannot go along on the trip, there are several practical alternatives for their care. They generally fall into the following categories: have a family member, friend, or neighbor to care for Max; find a pet sitter for Luna; or send Bella to a boarding kennel.
You may have a friend, neighbor, or family member who volunteers, or gets volunteered, to come over to your house at least once a day to check on, feed and provide water to your pets. While there, they may bring in the mail or water the plants too. Neighbors live close by and may already have a friendly relationship with your pet so that is a plus. They may care for Max for free, maybe for a small fee, or for reciprocal pet care for their animals in the future. However, pet care is not their primary job so they may become busy and Max may become an afterthought. Max will get fed but timing may be a bit flexible so that meals might be 5 hours or 14 hours apart. That is not an ideal situation but for many people that will work, not so much for Max.
Another possibility is hiring a pet sitter. Pet sitters are individuals who have a business taking care of other people’s pets. The pet sitter may stay at your house and care for your pet, may board your pet at their house, or they may visit your house daily to care for your pet. The most common method is the pet sitter visiting your home once or twice a day for about thirty minutes each visit. Since pet sitters are in the business of caring for other people’s pets as their livelihood, they tend to be reliable and provide timely care for Luna. If they do not provide reliable care services, they will receive negative online reviews and bad word-of-mouth comments, thereby reducing their potential income. That is their motivation, along with a love of animals, for providing good pet care.
Most pet sitters take care of dogs and cats but some of them have the know-how and skills necessary to care for birds, rabbits, snakes, lizards or other species. Ideally, a pet sitter should carry liability insurance, be trained in animal first aid, have an understanding of animal behavior, and may hold membership in a professional organization such as Pet Sitters International. There are no licensing requirements for pet sitters so anyone may call themselves a pet sitter. That said, there are many wonderful and caring pet sitters who will provide excellent care for Luna. The cost is about $20 to $40 a day depending on the number of pets you have, any additional services that the sitter is expected to provide (walk the dog, administer medications, water plants, etc.), and if you want them to come to the house more than once a day. One disadvantage of utilizing a visiting pet sitter is that Luna will be home alone for many hours a day. Therefore, if there is an emergency such as an injury, illness, heating goes out, etc., it may be the next day before the pet sitter returns to the house and can handle the situation. Still, many people like having their pets remain in familiar surroundings and utilizing the services of a pet sitter will work for them. That arrangement will work well for some animals but not for all pets.
A boarding kennel is a facility that takes care of people’s pets when they have to be away from home. Boarding kennels have liability insurance. Kennels have separate rooms or buildings for dogs and cats. Most boarding kennels have a smaller indoor area that is climate controlled and is attached to a somewhat larger fenced outside area called a run. The areas are connected by a doggie door. Bella will have freedom, at least during the daytime, to choose whether to be inside or outside. Many boarding kennels provide basic facilities but there are some kennels that are more spa-like with decorated “rooms”, high-end linens, fancy dog beds, and televisions for pets. Almost all boarding kennels will administer owner-provided medications to Bella during her stay with them. It may be as simple as administering a monthly heartworm preventative or more complex depending on Bella’s unique medical needs. Kennels will feed Bella once or twice a day, as the owner specifies. If Bella requires special food and the owner provides it, the kennel will ensure that Bella receives her regular chow. Otherwise, Bella will be fed the standard fare of the facility.
Basic kennels generally charge $18 to $30 a day but the fancier the facility, the higher the daily fee. One advantage of an owner-operated boarding kennel is that the owner generally lives onsite only steps away from the kennel. In larger facilities, they generally have staff onsite twenty-four hours a day so should an animal need care outside normal working hours, someone is available to care for them. If you don’t want other people coming to your house or you do not want your pet left alone for long periods of time, a boarding kennel may be a better alternative for Bella’s pet care than utilizing a friend or pet sitter.
Having a friend or neighbor care for Max, arranging for a pet sitter for Luna, or taking Bella to a boarding kennel are options for pet care when you are traveling and cannot take your pet along. Regardless of which option you choose, please discuss the needs of your individual pets with the potential care givers and check their references, if they are available. Ultimately, you want to ensure that your beloved pet will be safe and well cared for while you are away.