Has your family just purchased a new puppy? Wondering if you should load up the family for a road trip or have your puppy shipped? Scared that a flight will be too stressful or traumatic for your puppy? It is important to understand your options before you make a decision. How does puppy shipping really work?
For short distance customers, it is great when you can drive directly home after picking up your puppy. However, the majority of my buyers do not even live in my state. I have many buyers who simply cannot drive to my kennel to pick up their puppy and requires their puppy to be flown out. You might think this is a bad choice, but truthfully, this is the safest way of travel if you live far away from your breeder. This is why I want to answer common questions about how the process of flying your puppy actually works.
Let me tell you that puppies are not thrown on a cold plane and flown to an airport where they are dropped off like luggage. I know this is a misconception people believe when they hear the word “cargo”. Let me explain how it actually works. First, I have been using Delta to fly my puppies for nearly 15 years now, exclusively for 5+ years. Some customers used to request Continental, because of their cheaper price (about $50 less) but they ALWAYS had a connection flight. They do not fly anymore so that is not an option. I exclusively use Delta because of two reasons. First, I live in the state of GA and Atlanta is the home of Delta. As a result, Delta flies direct to just about everywhere out of Atlanta. Second, Delta has a PetSafe program, designed for the sole purpose of shipping animals safely. What does this mean?
Many airlines that accept pets, and there are fewer and fewer every year, do not have a PetSafe program. They may accept pets, and have a pressurized area for them on their plane, but they do not offer additional services. As a result, the weather plays a large role in booking a flight. Weather has to be between 40-80 degrees for a puppy to fly. During the cold winters or hot summers, this can be very challenging. By the way, the reason for the temperature is not because that is how hot or cold it will be on the plane, but because of the temperature at the cargo facility and during the transport, to and from the plane. Animals have to be checked in early to reserve their flight, just like people. This 2-4 hour wait before a flight is done at a cargo facility. If you have never been to a cargo facility, they are giant warehouses with large truck bays. (FYI, Delta offers a Dash service which allows you to drop off less than an hour in advance.) As you can imagine, the temperature inside is strongly affected by the outside climate. These airlines also transport the animal from the cargo facility to the plane on an open transport, exposing your animal to the climate. If the temperature outside is nice, there are no worries. If the temperature is too hot or too cold, the flight will be canceled for your pet.
This is not how Delta works. Like I stated above, Delta has a PetSafe program. The shipping process starts with us dropping the puppy off directly at the Delta cargo office. We do not, nor have we ever, hired any pet shipping service company. We would not be comfortable with anybody taking our puppies that we do not know. Rests assure, Angel and I do ALL our own transports. (FYI, the airline cargo offices are usually located just outside the airport grounds and there is usually “CARGO” signs posted around the airline terminals to follow.) Once we arrive with the puppy, the person at the desk registers all the paperwork into the system, checks our identification, examines the kennel inside and out, and then secures the kennel with multiple zip ties before I leave office. This assures that the kennel is not opened at any time during the travel. The process is different for international flights, as they require feedings and so forth, but that does not apply here, so I won’t get into that. Once the puppy is secure, Delta workers lift the crate into one of their PetSafe transport vans. These PetSafe vans are for pets only and they provide Heat/AC control. With this service, your pet is always in a comfortable room temperature, and never exposed to harsh climates. If you are a customer who lives in a warm climate state, you will appreciate this service because it leaves no restrictions on sending you a puppy during the hot summer months. Since your puppy is never exposed to the harsh heat, they can fly anytime, even during the peak of summer.
Another bit of information is I only book my puppies on direct flights. This way, my puppies are never on a plane for more than 1-4 hours. Once the flight lands, the animals are removed first and transported in a PetSafe van, again, providing AC/Heat control. The animals are then brought into your local Delta cargo office. When the buyer arrives, their photo identification is checked. If the ID matches the information I provided when I booked the flight, the puppy is released. You then pay for the flight ticket, which is approximately $250-$300 for an 8 week old puppy in a medium crate to almost anywhere in the USA. This price is consistent because the price is determined by weight and crate size, not location.
Now, if you are still worried about their nerves, my vet can provide me with a calming pill. This pill does not sedate the puppy, which is not allowed by the airlines. Instead, it simply calms them and keeps them calm for a few hours. This is more for our buyer’s anxiety than our puppy’s anxiety. I’ve probably only used this less than 5 times once the customer actually understands the process. We have never had any tragic loss of a puppy from a flight, nor have we every had a puppy get lost on a flight. The only problem I have run into was a puppy not arriving on time due to weather. This was very stressful at the time, but I understand it was uncontrollable. I can also say that this has only happened less than 5 times in all these years. To explain what happened… my customer arrived when expected but the flight was canceled due to bad weather. The pup was transferred to the very next flight. This was for the safety of the pet, and Delta did reimburse the flight cost. This is not a common event as weather is always checked during reservations and again at check in.
I have the fullest confidence in Delta’s PetSafe program and it will continue to be the only airline I use. For some people, the flight is even most cost effective than a day’s travel to and from, including food and hotel costs. I also want to point out that long travels may seem like a good idea but it can be very stressful and DANGEROUS on a puppy. Keep in mind a puppy is in a new environment with new people, new scents, new sounds, and no siblings. A long drive can only add to the stress. On top of that, nobody really thinks about the dangers you are exposing your puppy to at rest stops. An 8 week old puppy is very vulnerable to sicknesses since he/she has only had one round of vaccines. The biggest threat is the Parvovirus, since Rottweilers are more susceptible to Parvo than any other breed. To learn more about Parvo, please visit my blog and ready, “The Dangers of Parvo”.
We always love to meet our customers and we encourage all to come and pick up in person if it is feasible and within a 6 hour drive. If you plan on driving half a day to our home and half a day back, you might want to consider what is the safest for your pet. After all, the most important thing is getting your puppy home as quickly and safely as possible.
Written by Liz Gutierrez