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July 5, 2011 > Ohlone Humane Society: Furry travellers

Ohlone Humane Society: Furry travellers

By Nancy Lyon

I wouldn't take a bet on it considering the record setting deluge a few short days ago... but just maybe summer is really going to happen. If the gods of climate change look favourably upon us and gas prices don't skyrocket to greater heights, some will be hitting the road to the great outdoors with fur-family in tow.
Sounds like all fun and adventure? It can be but before you start dusting off your trusty camping gear and loading up for the open highway, it's a good idea to remember that your animal travelling buddy isn't a piece of equipment to stuff into your back seat just before taking off.

You might want to take a moment to consider the following travel tips.

* Even animals that are closely bonded with you can become frightened in a strange environment and bolt out of open doors and windows. It's a bad idea to take it for granted that your usually steady fur-buddy will not become unnerved by out of the ordinary occurrences. Use a leash when outside your car or motel room.

* Whenever a member of your animal family travels with you by car or by another means, she should wear a special identification tag in addition to her regular one. Write her name, your name, the person to contact at your destination, their phone number, a destination address, or that of a friend or relative, in case you need to be reached. Having her micro-chipped can act as a backup but should not be depended upon entirely.

* Consult with your veterinarian concerning mild sedation if you think that she may need it during the trip.


Travel by Car Checklist

* If your dog or cat is not used to travelling by car, make short trips with her a week or two in advance of the trip to accustom her to motion and to teach her how to behave. Her reaction will let you know if sedation may be needed. Actually, accustoming her to travel in a vehicle should be done early on for vet visits, etc.

* Dogs should be taught to lie quietly, keep their heads inside, and not interfere with the driver or passengers. Don't let your dog stick her head in the wind. It can irritate eyes and cause problems.

* Cats are often frightened by car travel, but some cats adjust quickly. While some people feel it's OK to let a cat to find its own place in the car, it is hazardous. It is best to confine a cat in familiar and comfortable carrier containing a favorite blanket and toy.

* Folding kennels or crates especially designed for station wagons can be most useful for dogs and cats.

* Accustom her to being on a leash or harness. Always use the leash when travelling. Even better is a pet harness (available at most pet stores) that connects to the car's seatbelt; it allows some movement while keeping her safely restrained. Animals can quickly bolt into traffic or become lost in a strange place if not properly restrained.

* If stopping overnight, check in advance to find a motel that will permit animals to spend the night. Don't leave her to sleep in the car; it can be scary and even dangerous.

* Never leave her out of sight in an unattended vehicle. Heat stroke and death can happen even in cars parked in the shade with the windows cracked.

* Have a suitable travel kit: an adequate supply of her regular food and water dishes, can opener (if needed), a few treats, a favorite toy, a blanket, comb or brush. Just in case - a sedative (if prescribed by your veterinarian or Bach Flower Rescue Remedy available in health food stores), paper towels, spray room deodorant if you will be staying overnight at a hotel or motel, a scooper and plastic bags to clean up after "accidents."


Entry Requirements

* If your destination is across state lines, nearly every state has laws on the entry of animals. For information, call or write to the State Veterinarian, State Department of Animal Husbandry, or other appropriate authority.

* Interstate health certificates must accompany dogs entering nearly all states. In some cases, this certificate must be in the hands of the state regulatory agency in advance of the entry.

* All but four states require proof of an up-to-date rabies inoculation for dogs and many require it for cats. The rabies tag must be securely attached to the collar. Some animals must have an entry permit issued by the destination state's regulatory agency. Receipt of the interstate health certificate may be required before the permit can be issued. Some states limit the time during which the entry permit is valid.

* A few states have border inspections of all animals being transported while others have random inspection by highway patrol officers.


Local Laws

Most communities have animal control ordinances. Keeping your dog leashed, immunized and under control will protect her and the public.

For rules governing dogs in California State Parks: http://www.parks.ca.gov/pages/24317/files/dogloversguidetosp.pdf
California's State Parks are on the legislative chopping block and if signed by Governor Brown, your favourite park may no longer open to the public. Check first.
Pet Friendly general travel information: http://dogfriendly.com/server/travel/guides/us/usstateCA.shtml

Travelling with an animal friend can be a challenge but the key to success is to plan ahead. By doing your homework and using common-sense protections, travelling with them can be adventure. But be alert and always remember that there is risk involved. If you are unsure in any situation - don't take chances.

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