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  • Writer's pictureSarah Morris Ocampo

How Can I Fly With My Pet?

Animals play a large part in many of our lives, and we can’t imagine going anywhere without them for long. Over two million pets are transported in an aircraft each year, showing that people are more attached to their pets than ever before. When it comes to flying, because most airports are owned by local municipalities, there are few mandatory laws regarding how airlines and airports must handle our furry friends.

Taking your cat, dog, or household bird with you may have certain restrictions depending on what airline you fly with, and it is important to remember to check these restrictions before booking your ticket. Pets are permitted in the cabin on a first-come, first-serve basis. When you begin making travel arrangements, instead of booking online, call the airline you will be traveling with to reserve priority for traveling with your animal; many airlines have a certain allotment of pets allowed for each flight.

The U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) does require certain records and certificates for the pet or pets you will be traveling with, and they must be endorsed by an accredited USDA Animal and Plant Health Inspection Service veterinarian to be considered valid. As outlined on their website, the process for taking your animal either domestically or overseas may take weeks, or even months, so it is strongly advised to begin planning for this endeavor as far in advance as possible.

Furthermore, the U.S. Department of Transportation (USDoT) stipulates that “dogs and cats must be at least eight weeks old and must have been weaned for at least five days.” There are also mandated guidelines that each traveler must meet regarding crates or kennels, instructions given on when and how much to feed your pet before travel, and even temperature regulations that owners and airlines must follow for a pet to fly. To ensure you are meeting all U.S. Department of Agriculture and U.S. Department of Transportation policies, visit their respective websites so you don’t run into any issues the day you are set to leave.

As for planning, don’t forget to ask if your airport has a pet relief area where your fur baby may relieve themselves before and after the flight. For our local travelers, there are three pet relief areas stationed inside McCarran International Airport: two inside Terminal 1 and a third in Terminal 3, as well as three located outside of the airport itself. For all of those flying with their animal for the first time ever, be sure to google tips and tricks from experienced travelers to help you along the journey.

In addition, before traveling with your pet, always remember that many animals are unable to manage their stress and anxiety levels the same way we do. Be sure to consult with your vet about ways to manage your furry friend’s emotional and physical health if flying is the only option for you and your pet. If your pet doesn’t have to travel with you, it may be better to leave them at home with a friend where they will happily await your return.

For more information and regulations on traveling with your pet, check out the websites for the USDA and USDoT, as well as the airline’s website you would like to fly with to review their policies to travel with your precious pet.

And finally, as we always say, “If you think you might need an attorney, you probably do.” Contact us before anything is set in stone. We love answering questions!

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