Can we stick a stamp on a dog?
June 21, 2016 7:18 PM   Subscribe

The death of a family member means a dog (jack russell terrier) is probably coming to live with us. We need to find a way to get the dog across the country safely on its own. Train? Plane? Dog-mobile?

We have someone who can take the dog to be transported. We obviously will be here to receive the dog on our end. There seem to be a ton of websites advertising that they ship pets across country, but I can't find any sites rating these companies, or any way to determine the best, and safest, (and hopefully not hugely expensive) way to have a small-bordering-on-midsized dog sent on its own about a thousand miles.

Have you done this, who did you use, how did it go, and is there anything we should know in particular/or that you would have done differently?
posted by instead of three wishes to Pets & Animals (9 answers total) 2 users marked this as a favorite
Is the dog 15 pounds or so or less? If so, the dog can travel underseat as a carry-on. If that's the case, I'd suggest buying a round-trip ticket to pick up the dog and bring it back yourself. My apologies if this is off the table for some reason.
posted by bluedaisy at 7:29 PM on June 21, 2016 [3 favorites]

Oh! If someone on that end knows the dog and wants to fly out for a visit, can they fly out with the dog, either as a carry-on or in the hold?

A direct flight is best and easiest for the dog.
posted by bluedaisy at 7:31 PM on June 21, 2016 [1 favorite]

My daughter's cat has flown back and forth across the country on Delta airlines using their pet program. It cost several hundred dollars, but everyone we met at Delta was very solocitous to the cat's needs, and on the nervous Kitty arrived from his flight in a great mood.
posted by djinn dandy at 7:42 PM on June 21, 2016 [2 favorites]

There are pet transport organizations but I would strongly suggest hiring someone (maybe Mefi Jobs?) accountable directly to you to fly or drive them out. I have heard too many horror stories.
posted by Lyn Never at 7:46 PM on June 21, 2016 [3 favorites]

I have put dogs on airplanes twice, once just shipping the dog and once basically as checked baggage with a passenger. Neither option was particularly cheap, but in both cases the airline staff were really good, and it was possible to see the dogs being loaded and unloaded from the airplane and the baggage handlers were very gentle, nothing like how they treat suitcases. I've read enough horror stories to be cautious, but our experiences have been very good. That said, if the dog is smaller, then in the cabin with a passenger would be a lot nicer and probably cheaper.

1000 miles is a almost two full days in a car, some dogs would love every minute of the trip and others would hate it and make you hate your life. I'd want to know how good the dog is with long car rides before committing to that.
posted by Dip Flash at 8:02 PM on June 21, 2016

Virtually every airline has a pets-as-cargo service. That said, you must be careful about temperatures at the origin and destination (because summer, of course).

If they have a non-stop between your two points, I can absolutely recommend Alaska Airlines' pet program. I've sent our cat and dog, separate times on separate trips, a few times through them and they have been awesome. Don't be fooled by the name, they serve more than just Alaska and the PNW.
posted by fireoyster at 9:41 PM on June 21, 2016

Our local dog rescue puts out calls for getting animals across country a lot. Would it be worth a call to your local rescue to ask if they have suggestions for dog transport based on their experience? (In similar cases in my family, the pets travelled across country with a family member in the cabin, so I don't have other alternate suggestions for you.)
posted by instamatic at 4:24 AM on June 22, 2016 [2 favorites]

I transport dogs for rescue groups as a volunteer. Here are my thoughts, fwiw:

1) The safest, fastest and least stressful approach is to fly with the dog, as noted above. Assuming a nonstop flight, there are only two times your dog will be at risk - at the beginning and end of the trip. And if someone is traveling with the dog, then there is one person looking after one dog, assuring his safety and comfort.

2) One of those pet shipping companies might be a way to go. A rescue group in the area where the dog is coming from (check might have feedback on the reputable ones in the area. (At least, they probably know the ones to avoid.) However, it will take longer to get the dog to his destination. On a long run, the dog will have to be allowed out of the car to relieve himself, so there are that many more chances for the dog to get loose. There might be other dogs traveling in the same vehicle, so one person might have to look after more than one dog. Additionally, depending on the actual distance the dog has to travel, you may not find a company that can handle the whole trip. So now you have to find another company for the next leg, and arrange for them to meet.

3) As long as your departure/arrival times are flexible, and you don't mind making a ton of phone calls, you can probably find a rescue transport group that will add your dog on to a run they usually do. However, these kinds of runs are rarely completely organized and finalized more than a week in advance, and they're probably not going to start and end in a convenient location for you. So you will have to do a ton of legwork on your own. And the more people that are handling your dog, passing him from vehicle to vehicle, the more chances there are for something to happen. Check for a rescue near the dog, and ask for suggestions. You will have more luck if your dog is leaving a populous area in the South, and heading for a populous area in the North. If it's the opposite direction, you will have a hard time finding a transport run.

Sorry - I wrote a lot of words that basically boil down to: fly with the dog, or use an airline known to be good with pets to ship him. Fastest, easiest and the least stress for all parties, both human and canine.
posted by SuperSquirrel at 6:27 AM on June 22, 2016 [1 favorite]

Just went to nth that when I did this, I had a friend be our "dog courier". I bought a pet carrier on Amazon, shipped it to her, she drove to the house with the dog, stayed overnight to get to know him, flew with him to us, stayed a few days to see us, and went home.
posted by freezer cake at 10:20 AM on June 22, 2016 [1 favorite]

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