- The Washington Times - Friday, October 4, 2002

The golden retriever had been well cared for, although its fur was dirty from what looked like days of neglect. My colleague coaxed the pup into her car, along a busy, four-lane highway during rush-hour traffic.

Who would have abandoned such a beautiful pet? She was somewhat relieved when, within a couple days, signs were posted along the highway with the dog's picture displayed.

As she returned the pet to its relieved owners, she found out they had just moved into the area a few weeks earlier from across the country. The dog had gotten loose and ultimately lost in its new surroundings.

The first inclination most family pets have about a journey to a new home far, far away comes when a dose of Dramamine is hidden discretely in a clump of peanut butter, and they are placed into a kennel crate and slid into the back of the car, front of the truck or cargo hold of an airplane. There must be a better way.

Well, there is. The Internet is full of tips for animal lovers who are moving Fluffy with them, to ensure that the family pet possibly the family's most precious cargo arrives safely.

If you're carrying your pet with you in the moving van (up front, not in the back) or car, Allied Van Lines (www.alliedvan.com) provides some tips on pet care during these busy days of travel.

• Schedule an examination by a veterinarian. The veterinarian may suggest a tranquilizer or some other precautionary measure for the duration of the trip. Obtain copies of your pet's health and vaccination records and update identification tags.

• If you decide to ship your pet by air, contact the airline well in advance to check regulations and services and to make reservations. If possible, it's probably best to book a weekday flight during slack periods when there's more room in the plane's cargo compartment. Also, try to book a direct flight to reduce the amount of time your pet will be confined.

• Select a portable air-transport kennel that's large enough for your pet to stand in and move around a bit. Most airlines sell or rent these special carriers. Let your pet get accustomed to the kennel well in advance of the trip. Mark the container "live animal," and affix a label that includes your pet's name, your new address and phone number and special handling instructions.

• If you'll be traveling to your new home by car, acquaint your pet with car travel by taking it for short drives around the neighborhood. Don't feed your pet for several hours before your trip. Do, however, pack a canteen of fresh, cool water and stop frequently for drinks and walks.

• If you plan an overnight stay in a hotel, determine in advance whether pets are welcome.

• Finally and this is important for all pets at all times never leave an animal in an enclosed, locked car. Even in moderately warm weather, the temperature inside a car can reach 120 degrees in just a few minutes. Conversely, in winter months, the temperature can drop well below freezing before you realize it.

Birds and small pets such as hamsters can travel by car in their cages provided the cage is stable, properly ventilated, and protected from drafts. Covering the cage will often help to keep your pet calm.

The American Veterinary Medical Association (www.avma.org) has these additional tips for traveling with your pet:

• If you will be staying with friends along the way, be considerate. Find out in advance if the pet is welcome. The same goes for hotels, motels, parks and campgrounds. Always check whether pets are allowed or kennel facilities are available. If the pet must be left alone in a hotel room, place a "do not disturb" sign on the door and inform the maid and the front desk. Consider bringing along a kennel crate for use in hotel rooms or the homes of friends or relatives who are not comfortable with your pet loose when no one is home.

• Whether you travel by car or plane, be sure your pet is properly identified with a current tag or a microchip.

• Grooming bathing, combing, trimming nails before a trip, plus having its favorite food, toy and dishes available, will make your pet more comfortable.

• Have both proof of rabies vaccination and a current health certificate with you when crossing state or international borders.

The trip for you and your family is stressful enough, so be sure to remember to care for your pet and reduce its stress, as well as the worries and concerns of other family members.

M. Anthony Carr has written about the real estate industry for more than 13 years. Reach him by e-mail ([email protected]).

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