Tuesday, October 16, 2007



Date: October 16, 2007

On Saturday, September 29 and Sunday, September 30, the NBC 7/39 Travel Expo at the San Diego Convention Center attracted thousands of people looking for ideas for their next vacation. About 100 exhibitors, loaded with information about travel packages and destinations, represented countries, cruises, travel services and resorts from around the world. For anyone looking to pick up some glossy brochures with exciting vacation ideas, win raffle prizes or even try the indoor rock-climbing wall, the expo was the place to be. Even a baby equipment rental company that caters to traveling babies and their families was at the event. In fact there seemed to be just about everything you would want to know about traveling in California and beyond, except for one thing. For the hundreds of thousands of pet owners in San Diego, there were some serious questions raised about what to do about the furry part of the family when the family decides to travel.

Pets are often considered members of the family, but ready information about pet friendly accommodations was surprisingly hard to find, and there certainly were no informational booths devoted to traveling with pets or boarding and pet care options for travelers who leave their pets at home. According to the American Pet Products Manufacturers Association, "pet ownership is currently at its highest level with 71.1 million households in the U.S. owning at least one pet (63% of the 113.7 million total U.S. households). According to the Survey: “there are 74.8 million dogs, 88.3 million cats, 142 million freshwater fish, 9.6 million saltwater fish, 16 million birds, 24.3 million small animals, 13.4 million reptiles and 13.8 million horses." With well over 600,000 dogs and cats in San Diego, according to a County of San Diego Department of Animal Services estimate not to mention other pets, it seems obvious that people would be concerned about the well being of their pets before traveling.

A tour of the California hotel and resort section at the expo and some question-asking revealed that although some hotels and resorts, such as Wyndham Hotels, Big Bear Lodge and Sycuan Resort & Casino, have recognized the importance of pets in their owners’ lives and try to address pet needs, many still do not allow pets or provide nearby pet boarding. Even pet-friendly hotels often do not allow pets to be left unattended in the rooms.

What about cruises and tours? The wonderful thing about them is that they take virtually no planning on the traveler’s part; but matters become a bit more complicated when there is a pet involved. Animals are rarely allowed on cruises, tour buses and trains.
International travel with pets gets even more complicated. Pets that fly can be exposed to extreme temperatures and stressful environments, are required to have the proper certificates, examinations and vaccinations and sometimes are not even allowed to enter certain rabies-free areas such as Jamaica. There is also the risk of being separated from your pet during flight transfers, which puts more stress on you and your pet and could lead to separation anxiety and injury if pets try to escape their carriers.

With the shortage of pet-friendly accommodations, activities, travel packages and information, what is a family to do about their pets when planning vacations? Unless you are traveling by car and have ready access to a list of pet-friendly accommodations along your route, your best bet is to leave the pets in the safety, comfort and capable hands of a trusted caregiver. Sometimes, as much as the pets might enjoy an exotic destination with the rest of the family, it is simply much more comfortable and relaxing staying at home, or temporarily boarding at the home or facility with knowledgeable and professional staff on hand.

Local pet sitting services, such as Pet Sitting and Dog Walking Services by Kat, is a simple solution to the stresses of traveling for pet owners. It is clear and understandable from the Travel Expo that the travel industry’s first priority is people and not necessarily their pets. Rather than exposing pets to the rigors of travel, getting buried in rules and restrictions or putting a pet in the well-meaning but untrained care of a friend or neighbor, opt for a professional like Kat to make sure your pet is safe and happy. After all, the whole point of a vacation is to relax; and there is no better way to enjoy peace of mind than knowing your pet is safe.

For more information about the pet sitting industry please visit Pet Sitters International at: www.petsit.com. Pet Sitting and Dog Walking Services by Kat can be contacted at http://www.petsitdogwalkbykat.com.

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