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Everything You Need To Know About Choosing Pet Movers

While your pets are definitely part of the family, moving a pet to a new home might look a little different for them than it does for the rest of the household. Ideally, your pet will be able to just come along with you during the move. But since that’s not always possible, reputable pet movers offer safe transportation options.

Here’s a breakdown of when it makes sense to lean on professional pet movers to help get your furry or feathery companions to their new destination safe and sound.

What pet movers do

In a sense, pet moving companies are like travel agents for your pets. Because moving animals is complicated and highly regulated, pet movers provide the expertise to move your cat, dog, or other animal from one location to another.

Movers make transportation arrangements — whether by ground or air — as well as ensure you have all necessary paperwork, including medical certificates. They may even arrange for door-to-door transportation.

Pet movers’ services range from bare-bones budget transportation to “white glove” concierge service that includes pickup and drop-off. The specific mover and service you choose will depend on your budget and needs.

Be aware that not all movers are equipped to handle all kinds of animals. Cats and dogs may be easy by virtue of the fact they’re very popular pets, but more exotic animals may require a mover with that specialty. You shouldn’t have too much trouble finding movers experienced in moving reptiles and birds. However, most pet transportation companies won’t agree to transport fish. If you have fish or other aquatic friends, moving them yourself is likely the best bet.

Costs will vary depending upon which services you need, but a domestic move within the United States will typically run no less than $500 and can easily cost over $1,000. Traveling internationally? That’s often a lot pricier; plan to invest at least $2,000 to take your pet overseas.

Choosing Pet Movers

How to choose a pet mover

There are a lot of movers to choose from, so it pays to do some research before you entrust one with your pet. Thankfully, time itself is a great tool for narrowing down your search; moving live animals is hard, and businesses that don’t have sufficient skill tend not to stick around for long. Find one that has at least five years of experience.

Perhaps the single most important criteria is to make sure that your potential pet moving company is a member of the International Pet and Animal Transportation Association (IPATA), a nonprofit trade association dedicated to the safe and humane transport of pets and other animals. Members are required to follow strict rules and regulations. They’re also registered with the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) and adhere to the rules and regulations of the USDA’s Animal Welfare Act.

There are some red flags to look out for as you evaluate pet shipping companies. First and foremost, it’s critical that the moving company doesn’t recommend using sedatives or tranquilizers of any kind — the IPATA specifically warns of the dangers of sedating animals for transport, which can result in severe injury and even death.

The movers should also provide expertise on the regulatory side of moving. A reputable mover will ensure your pet is microchipped and has its health certificate (an APHIS Form 7001 for travel within the U.S. and additional documents for international travel). They’ll also check to make sure all vaccines and import permits are completed in time for the trip. If the movers don’t seem well-versed in these kinds of issues, look elsewhere.

Be sure to read online reviews, but to get a truly clear sense of a potential pet moving service, it’s not a bad idea to ask for references and talk to a couple of customers about their experiences.

Questions to ask a pet moving company

One of the benefits of using a pet mover is that you can lean on them for their experience and knowledge at every stage of moving, making the whole process easier for you and your pet. That means you should not hesitate to ask questions to learn the details and timeline of the move process.

Be sure to ask questions like:

  • How should you prepare your pet? The mover may recommend specific supplies to pack with your pet as well as a feeding schedule that reduces intake leading up to the trip. They may also advise sending ice, which will melt during the trip so your pet always has access to water.
  • What’s your emergency action plan? Find out how the moving company is equipped to deal with medical emergencies and if it can handle any special needs your pet has. You should also ascertain if they provide insurance to cover the loss, injury, or even death of your pet. If not, get insured separately or work with a different mover.
  • Are any unusual accommodations needed? Depending on your mover’s experience, they should be able to outline recommendations for specific species or breeds, how to handle any special medication or health condition your pet has, and considerations for your destination’s climate.

Choosing Pet Movers

Preparing for the destination

Where you’re traveling will heavily influence what your move looks like. If your destination is within the United States, there may not be special preparations you need to account for. But international travel is something else entirely — your pet may need additional vaccinations and possibly even submit to quarantine. Depending upon the destination, animal quarantine can last anywhere from 10 to 180 days.

The moving company should be well-versed in requirements for common destinations and able to find out the requirements for less common ones. Since these details may be difficult to hammer out on your own, you can depend on your pet mover to confirm them with the consulate for the country where your pet will arrive.

Whether you’re moving to another city, state, or country, your pet deserves a stress-free move. Leaning on a professional pet moving company can go a long way toward making your move a smooth one for you and every member of your family.

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