In previous columns, I have personally favored taking pets with you on the road for a couple of reasons. Not only are they safer and away from the nasty weather should it come, but the pets are emotionally better off being that they are with you and family.
Here lies a challenge, though. Taking the pets with you means that you must either have an accommodating relative to take in you and your pets, or suitable accommodations from a motel or hotel. Today I’ll go through some of the things to keep in mind when dealing with hotel/motel reservationists when it comes to pet issues. Some things to remember are as follows:
1) Ask for a faxed or e-mailed confirmation of your reservations. This will not only confirm your room rate, but also confirm that a pet(s) reservation you discussed in advance has been annotated. If a pet deposit is required, this too should be in writing with the confirmation. Also, if a deposit is required, find out in advance whether or not it’s refundable. Motels and hotels have the right to demand non-refundable deposits, but this is not a pet-friendly policy.
2) While some hotels and motel chains have definite pet policies, at many places it depends on who you happen to speak with. Subjectively speaking, reservationists may ask if your pet is friendly or manageable. One way to prove a dog’s disposition is to keep a certificate from the AKC called a Canine Good Citizen (CGC). This is issued by dog trainers throughout the country and is certification that your dog is well behaved. Even if you don’t have a CGC certification, a resume’ of your pet may serve as a positive influence on “iffy” managers. A resume may include obedience class graduation certificates, therapy dog awards (for visiting nursing homes or special needs children), or a letter from a veterinarian who knows your pet. Note that I stated that managers may be “iffy”. It is always preferable to speak to the manager on duty about your needs to bring your pet if at first a reservationist sounds negative or undecided.
3) A dog’s size is sometimes an issue. Yet there seems to be a lot of ambiguity in the lodging industry concerning what a small vs. large dog really is. Be honest about your dog’s size, as some places may have a “12-inch at the shoulder” size while others may have a “knee high” requirement. Through discussing these points, though, remember that the damage to a hotel or motel is their primary concern. The establishment needs to know that above all you have a manageable pet.
Never be afraid to talk with inland relatives or friends about your possible evacuation, since you may exercise this option. This may be the most pet-friendly and economical option for you in an evacuation situation. If considering the hotel/motel option, you might explore the book Traveling With Your Pet: The AAA Book (AAA Publishing, Heathrow, FL, 2000; $13.95), or on the web, see www.travelpets.com or www.petswelcome.com.. We all want travel with your pet to be easier, especially at a stressful time like a hurricane evacuation.