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Pet Friendly Travel in the News


Animal-friendly hotels, pet passports and airline regulations. Plus, travel advice from the dog whisperer himself, Cesar Millan

Karla Cripps
August 29, 2012

At the five-star Fairmont Whistler Hotel in British Columbia, cocker spaniels, golden retrievers and even German shepherds can be seen strutting through the hallways with their owners.

Out the hotel's back entrance, stainless steel dog bowls filled with fresh water are set out to rehydrate tired pets returning from brisk walks in the mountain air.

Long gone are the days when pet owners were banished to grim roadside motels with their contraband canines.

Thanks to a surge in the number of pet-friendly hotels, airlines with pet-friendly policies and pet immigration guidelines to facilitate international travel, more people than ever are taking their dogs overseas with them.

“I travel with my dog everywhere," says TV's “Dog Whisperer,” Cesar Millan. "It’s the right thing to do. In Mexico, we went to the market -- dogs follow. Went to school -- dogs follow."

He adds that being able to fly with them is a chance no one should pass up.

Who to fly with
Website has an extensive round up of global airlines and their policies on pets.

Among the most pet-friendly of the pack is Virgin Atlantic, with its Flying Paws plan that gives pets their very own reward scheme.

Sorry, no free flights though. Pets collect "paw prints," which can be redeemed for gifts like Burberry, Prada and Gucci pet clothing.

Fancy dress delights aside, pet owners do need to pay attention to the small print when booking flights for their animals.

For instance, Air France says some pets are accepted in the aircraft cabin and in the aircraft hold. But "dogs of the following breeds cannot be transported on any Air France flights, including by freight: Staffordshire terrier, mastiff (boerbull), tosa, pitbull. Ferrets and polecats can only travel by freight. Parrots must be transported by cargo."

Singapore Airlines requires that your pet has a certificate of good health but does not allow pets to travel in the cabin of the aircraft.

Most North American airlines, however, do let small pets travel in the cabin with you on flights -- fees can be steep, while some only allow domestic travel -- provided you let them know at the time of booking.

“Pets traveling in the cabin require a reservation to ensure no more than seven pets are booked on any single flight," says American Airlines.

Get that dog a passport
So you've found an airline that will accommodate you and your pooch. Next comes the hard part. Red tape.

Pet immigration laws are specific to each country, but one way to cut down on some of the headaches is to create a pet passport, which is "a collection of all identifying and required documents for entering a given country," advises

A pet passport is an essential part of the Pet Travel Scheme ("PETS"), a system that allows animals to travel into the United Kingdom without undergoing quarantine if all the regulations are followed.

It was originally introduced in 2001 for animals entering or returning to the UK from other European Union countries, but has since rolled out to other countries such as the United States, Canada, Australia and New Zealand.

Like training for a marathon
Though probably a little easier than flying with kids, heading out on an epic journey with your dog isn't as simple as throwing it into a pet carrier and taking off, says Millan.

You need to prepare them for the long journey and let them get used to their carrier.

"Don’t just put them in a crate the day before. It should be a transition," he says. "You have to teach your dog to hold its bladder -- it's almost like training for a marathon.

"Go through the process before you fly. For example, flying from Los Angeles to Spain is 14 hours. So I conditioned Julio and rest of my dogs to gradually be able to wait two, four, six, eight hours."

Before you buy a pet crate, check out the International Air Transport Association's list of pet carrier requirements, which most airlines adhere to.

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