Moving for Work? Don’t Leave Your Furry Family Members Behind

If you’ve ever had to move, whether to a new apartment across town or to another country altogether, you know that it’s a uniquely stressful experience. Maybe you can relate: Three years ago I made a supposedly simple down-the-street move, and before it was over I ended up exhausted and crying in the fetal position on the floor of my packed-up apartment when my movers were four hours late.

On top of all the stress that’s inherently part of the relocation process, imagine having to navigate the additional logistics maze required to bring your beloved pet (or in my case, three pets) along with you. Will my pug Goonie handle the car ride okay? Will my cats Gilligan and Monty freak out on the plane? Is their paperwork correct or will I get held up while trying to pass through customs?

With uncertainties like this to deal with, many people question if bringing their pet is really the right decision after all. In all my years of overseeing and helping with thousands of pet moves, I strongly believe the answer is ‘absolutely!’ Here’s why:

Pets provide a sense of home and comfort.

I can’t tell you how many times I’ve heard, “It feels like home now that he’s here,” when clients are looking back on their pet’s relocation. It didn’t matter that they were eating their first post-move dinner on the floor with paper plates; it felt right because their pet was there to share that moment with them.

Bethany with her dog, Goonie, on a hike in Austin.

Research suggests that 30% of international move assignments do not work out due to an assignee’s family being unable to find comfort and happiness in the new environment. Adjusting to a new job or new country can be difficult without the support system a person is accustomed to, and for many people, pets play a big role when it comes to creating a sense of day-to-day well-being. As a matter of fact, the American Psychological Association has published research on this topic illustrating how pets often serve as significant sources of emotional support for their humans.

Pets make it easier to meet and connect with people.

Finding common ground for conversation and building new relationships can also prove to be difficult in a new community, especially abroad. It may be a little easier when these “nice to meet you” conversations can happen at a dog park or when you’re out and about with your furry companion (who happens to be contagiously enthusiastic when it comes to saying hello to new friends). BarkHappy, a social app currently available in Austin, Portland and Seattle, was founded on this very idea.

Pet travel is safe and is becoming more commonplace each year.

I remember interviewing for a position at PetRelocation back in 2011 and wondering, “Is it even safe to put pets on a plane?” I’ve since learned how common this question is and that the short answer is yes, pet travel is safe with a blessing from your vet!

As the humanization of pets grows from a narrow trend to a worldwide phenomenon, airlines and other travel providers are stepping up their game. Many airlines now work to make pet safety a priority by following strict requirements and operating with greater transparency. United PetSafe is a prime example of one of these programs — they take into account outdoor temperature and a pet’s breed, size and age in order to create the safest experience possible.

To offer an idea of scope: In the United States, over 2 million pets and other live animals are transported by air every year, and more than 110 million animals pass through the Frankfurt Animal Lounge each year (in comparison to a mere 57.5 million humans that pass through FRA). In other words, pet air travel is becoming increasingly routine around the world as more and more pet owners make the decision to bring the whole family along when they move.

I’ve witnessed thousands of success stories firsthand and can honestly say I wouldn’t hesitate to fly Goonie, Gilligan, and Monty if I decided to make a long-distance move. I know from experience that my furniture could end up in limbo, but at least my pets will be there to keep me company while we wait for it to arrive.

Bethany Tucker has worked at PetRelocation, a door-to-door pet travel service provider, since 2012 and has helped thousands of pets move safely with their families.

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