By Priya Poduval
Planning a trip with your furry friend? It can be a lot of fun, and you no longer have to fret about how they are doing at home without you being around. But public transport system was not built while also keeping our pets in mind. Depending on how prepared you are, you could have a memorable trip or a disastrous nightmare. Here are a few important things to keep in mind while travelling with pets in India:
Train travel is a more economical and healthier option for pets, but it comes with its own share of hassles. Though the Indian Railways has specified rules only for dogs, you can travel with other animals and birds as well. With trains, you have the option of keeping your dog with you provided you are travelling First Class or Air Conditioned First Class and that you reserve either the two- or four-berth area entirely. Alternatively, dogs can be carried in the luggage/brake van in specially designed boxes. Unfortunately, with trains, even if you reserve the full berth, if someone in that compartment objects to the dog, your poor pooch will have to travel in the luggage van anyway. This can be really difficult, especially because it is your responsibility to provide your dog with food and water throughout the journey. Large dogs too cannot travel in the compartment — they will be transported in a separate coach that is usually used for horses.
Indian air transport providers Jet Airways, Air India, Spice Jet and Vistara allow pets on board, while IndiGo and Air Costa only service animals which are required for people with disabilities. While some regulations and policies vary across these, most of the rules are common to all. Pets that are below 8 weeks of age, and in some cases 12 weeks, are not allowed to fly. The same goes for pregnant animals and females with unweaned offspring(s). Certain animal breeds and their cross breeds are not allowed on board, such as aggressive dog breeds (for obvious reasons), short-muzzled dog breeds (for health reasons), and a few cat breeds. In most cases, only guide dogs are allowed into the cabin with passengers. Other pets, such as dogs, cats, rabbits and on some airlines birds, usually have to travel either as excess baggage or as part of the cargo. The latter is the cheaper option, but it could mean that your pet may not travel on the same flight as you, so the former is definitely preferable. Only Air India allows pets in the cabin, if the combined weight of the pet and the carrier are less than 5 kilos. Call in to make the reservation for your pet because it cannot be done on the phone. There is a limit to how many pets the airline can take on each flight, so find out in advance if there is space for your pet. You may be charged a flat fee by the airline, or it could vary according to your pet’s weight.
CRATING YOUR PET
The International Air Transport Association (IATA) has laid down guidelines, keeping your pet’s safety and comfort in mind. For any air travel, you need to crate your pet in an IATA-approved cage and ensure it has enough space to lie down, stand and turn around comfortably. The crate should be well ventilated, made of a non-chewable material and have smooth edges and a way to shut it properly. It should be escape- and leakproof. Buying the crate in advance will give you a chance to get your pet used to it so that it is less nervous on the day of your journey. Putting a label with few important details on it is a good idea, marking it as containing a live animal, as well as listing all of your pet’s information, including name, owner, address, flight itinerary, nature and owner’s emergency contact details. Paperwork should be in place before the travel for hassle free travel—health certificates from the vet, along with a letter from them stating that your pet is ready to fly, are a must, in addition to all the vaccinations. Other requirements may vary according to the airline, so make sure you start on all the documentation at least a month in advance.
Most carriers will not take animals that have been sedated, as it poses a tremendous risk to their health. If they are agitated, you can give them a natural pet calmer instead. Some pets also tend to face motion sickness. You can prepare them for this by taking them for long drives so that they can start getting used to it. If they are prone to motion sickness, do not feed them before the flight, but give them a lot of water so that they are well hydrated. Think carefully about whether or not your pet is ready to fly. If necessary, ask your vet for an objective opinion. The trip will be that much harder if you have an animal with behavioural issues, and you certainly won’t gain any sympathy from fellow passengers or airline staff if you have a howling or growling animal.
Here are few practical suggestions to ensure you and and your pet have a safe and comfortable journey whenever you plan to take your furry companion with you for an outing by road.
Ensure you have packed everything on your dog travel packing list, it could be their water bowls,feeding bowls,wet wipes,leashes,collars, pet towels, dog food, poop bags, a mat for them to relax when you stop over somewhere, the pet vaccination passort, a first aid box in case of emergency like diarrhea, vomit, minor scrapes or wounds and lots of tissues and old newspapers.
Before you plan on a longer journey make the pets used to shorter road trips. Some of the pets I have noticed are car sick or are scared and anxious. So getting them used to sitting in the car, being calm is important since puppyhood. Use sunshades on the back window too in case you are travelling in the summer. Also the most important thing is never leave your pet unattended in a closed car on a hot sunny day. The car will heat up in few minutes and it will be extremely hot for your pets. Always leave windows down little bit and have someone sitting with them if in case you have to quickly do a round of the store. While on a long trip try to take few breaks for their nature’s call and feed. Try to watch for signs if you feel your pet is uncomfortable. You can get their favourite chewsticks, snacks or toy for them to be busy during the journey. On hot summer days always have the AC on while travelling during the day. Lookout for pet friendly cafes and restaurants on the way so you don’t have to leave them in the car. With these few things in mind you can have a comfortable and safe journey with you furry companion.
PET FRIENDLYTRAVEL ACCOMMODATION
Once you reach make sure you have booked a pet-friendly hotel and that you’ve informed them in advance of your arrival. Resorts with lawns or beaches are the best idea, giving your pet the freedom to roam around.
Plan your itinerary in advance so that you and your pet don’t have to face any rude surprises, but always have a back-up plan in case you do. Be calm and firm with your pet, and if you manage to get through the first trip okay, you’ll find that they can make really good travel companions.
Delhi’s Indira Gandhi International Airport has a helpdesk by Pet Fly, a pet-relocation service, to assist passengers travelling with animals. The important thing to remember is that while you want to have a great time with your pet at your chosen holiday destination, you are solely responsible for its health and well-being. If you’re not certain about being able to care for your pet while on holiday, it is always a better option to leave it in the care of friends, or good dog boarding centres. But if you exercise these tips while in transit, you’ll get to have the time of your life with your four-legged friend for company!
|MY EXPERIENCE TRAVELLING WITH PETS BY INDIAN RAILWAYS I personally had a fantastic experience recently while travelling with my two English Retrievers – Laila and Mithi from Guwahati to Delhi by railroad. We had reserved a First Class coupe in advance. A day prior to our journey, we had to submit an application of travel with pets to the CRO (Chief Reservation Officer) of Guwahati Railway Station. It was a little cumbersome to locate the office of the CRO. However, the officer was extremely cooperative which somehow made up for the trouble. Next morning we had to reach the station with our pets at least an hour prior to departure. We had to purchase a luggage ticket for each four-legged friend. The only thing we needed to keep in mind while booking the coupe was to secure a two berth coupe in advance because you can get the whole place to yourself and your pet can travel peacefully. I have also travelled by air with my pets. However, I lately discovered that train travel was more comfortable and economical and your furry companions are safe with you in the same cabin. You can walk them in between stations when the train halts for ten minutes or more. You can feed them according to their meal time and place a water bowl in the vicinity so they can quench their thirst with ease. With you always within sight, pets also feel safe and secure during the travel.|
*Author is Co-Founder, Petz House – Pet Boarding and Pet Old Age Home. She can be reached at 7827855912 and firstname.lastname@example.org