When the owner cannot accompany the animal, a professional pet shipping service will ensure that the pet reaches a care provider at the destination. Ground transportation, when available, is frequently considered the preferable method. But every year, thousands of animals travel unaccompanied on passenger planes as air freight.
Due to recent Federal Aviation Administration regulations, commercial airlines can only accept cargo from known shippers, so a professional pet shipper is required in such situations [source: International Pet Shipping].
Look for a shipper that belongs to the Independent Pet and Animal Transportation Association (IPATA), a network that provides oversight for the industry and helps maintain common practices and ethics. When shipping long-distance, shippers work with other IPATA member organizations at the destination.
Shipping live animals requires a lot of advance planning and attention to detail. This is where professional involvement is most helpful. The shipper will make sure that you obtain the requisite permits, import/export licenses, health certificates and other documentation, following the specific requirements of the jurisdictions on both ends of the journey.
Some airlines ban live animal cargo and others are poorly prepared to handle live freight. The seasoned shipping services are familiar with the preferred carriers and routes, as well as the timing considerations involved in booking a flight for your pet.
Animals shipped as airfreight travel below the cabin in the cargo hold: an insulated, pressurized, climate-controlled environment. Air travel is generally as safe for animals as it is for human beings.
Transported pets must travel in a secure kennel, small enough to fit in the cargo deck but large enough to permit the animal to stand, lay down and turn around. Airlines charge customers by the weight of the animal plus its crate, at rates varying from about $200 to more than $500, excluding fees and handling charges [source: Delta Air Lines].
Only going on a cross-town trip? Read on for shipping services of a more local nature.