8 Alternatives to Blue Collar Pet Transport

Matt Matasci Matt Matasci · Updated January 16, 2024

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An older couple receiving a shipped puppy in their driveway.

Whether you’re moving across the country, just bought a new puppy from an out-of-state breeder, or are planning a long vacation, there are times you need to hire a pet shipping company. According to APPA National Pet Owners Survey, 78% of people travel with their pets, which is totally understandable. Pets are like family members; you don’t want them to be treated like a piece of cargo during long-distance trips. So, naturally, you want the safest, most efficient, and most reliable travel experience for your beloved pets.

Blue Collar Pet Transport is a well-known name in the pet delivery industry, with years of experience and a good reputation. However, it’s always a good idea to shop around when looking for a pet transportation company. With a little research, you may be able to find a better deal, quicker service, or one with a better track record of reliability.

Here are eight great alternatives to Blue Collar Pet Transport for your pet’s upcoming long-distance trip.

A group of people rehoming their dog in front of their home.

Alternative logo for Airpets International featuring Royal Paws.

8. Airpets International

Airpets International has been in the pet shipping business for over 50 years. Though the company was founded in the United Kingdom, it has expanded internationally. As the name would suggest, the company focuses on air travel, though it does offer some ground service.

Benefits of Airpets International

  • They’re one of the quicker options for transporting your pet.
  • Airpets International is accredited by the USDA.
  • They’ve been a member of the International Pet And Animal Transportation Association (IPATA) since 2004.
  • Exercise and grooming add-ons are available.
  • They can advise you on a suitable carrier for the trip.
  • Airpets International will relocate many species, including lizards, rabbits, and even skunks.

Drawbacks of Airpets International

  • Airpets International is one of the pricier pet shipping companies, with domestic moves starting at $1000 and international moves costing $2000 or more.
  • They only use commercial airlines for pet relocation.
  • The business is mainly focused on air travel (though they do offer some ground transport services).
  • There are some significant downsides to shipping a pet via plane, including:
    • You must plan as much as six months in advance to get the pet’s paperwork processed and prepared.
    • The animal must remain in its carrier for the boarding process and flight duration, which can be several consecutive hours for longer trips.
    • Larger pets can’t fly in-cabin and must be stored in the cargo hold.
    • Most airlines won’t accept brachycephalic dog and cat breeds on their flights because these animals may have breathing issues while flying. Dog breeds include boxers, pugs, bulldogs, Pekingese, and Boston terriers. Cat breeds include Himalayan, Exotic Shorthair, and Persian.
    • Traveling in the cargo hold can be stressful and even traumatic for pets. It’s not recommended for puppies.
    • There are seasonal restrictions on the number of pets that can board a flight.
    • Airlines won’t accept pets in the cargo hold when the temperature is extremely hot or cold.
    • Air travel is more expensive than ground transportation.

The Bottom Line

If you need to ship your pet internationally and are comfortable with the drawbacks of air travel, using an air nanny through Airpets International could be a good choice. More suitable options are available for your pet transportation needs if cost is a primary consideration or you have a larger pet or a restricted breed.

Royal paws logo for pet transportation and shipping.

7. Royal Paws

Royal Paws is based out of Georgia and has shipped pets since 2000. What sets Royal Paws apart from other pet transportation companies is that it delivers your animal in a private vehicle – meaning they won’t have to share the ride with other animals. As a more exclusive pet transportation option, the price point is higher than traditional ground transportation companies.

Benefits of Royal Paws

  • Your pet will be shipped in a private, climate-controlled SUV or minivan.
  • They are certified by USDA APHIS.
  • Health certifications and vaccines aren’t required for transport.
  • Royal Paws has two drivers for every shipment.
  • Pets that prefer more space during the trip can use an extra-large carrier.
  • They provide real-time updates through Facebook.

Drawbacks of Royal Paws

  • Royal Paws is one of the pricier ground transport services.
  • They’re not a member of IPATA.
  • You must request a quote and have a consultation to get a cost estimate.
  • Their service is only available in the United States and Canada.
  • The company website is very simple; it doesn’t have an FAQ page or offer many details about the company.
  • Their primary focus is shipping dogs – though they do ship cats and other animals.

The Bottom Line

If you’re willing to pay the cost for a solo journey, Royal Paws is a good fit for ground transportation. Unfortunately, the company doesn’t offer pricing on its website; you’ll need to have a consultation with the company to get an estimate. If you’re looking for something less expensive, more budget-friendly options are available.

Happy Hill Travel, Inc. offers Royal Paws alternatives for pet-friendly vacations.

6. Happy Tails Travel, Inc.

The biggest downside to transporting a pet by air is all the paperwork and complicated processes, which can be very time-consuming. Happy Tails Travel, Inc. relieves that stress by handling your pet’s air travel logistics. They’ve been in business since 1995 and claim a 100% safety record.

Benefits of Happy Tails Travel, Inc.

  • They provide discounts for multiple animals.
  • Domestic and international shipping services are available.
  • Happy Tails Travel, Inc. handles the logistics of the trip, from ensuring international requirements are met to booking the flight to providing the proper documents.
  • The company claims it can find flights even during hot and cold months.
  • They’ve been a member of IPATA since 1996.
  • Happy Tails Travel, Inc. works with shelters and vets to provide adoption services.

Drawbacks of Happy Tails Travel, Inc.

  • Their primary focus is air travel, though they do provide some ground services.
  • Only uses commercial airlines for transportation; they don’t use private planes.
  • Your pet will be unaccompanied in the live animal cargo hold.
  • They can’t transport pets that are linked to your personal plane reservation.
  • There are additional fees for last-minute transportation.
  • They don’t ship animals on weekends.
  • Happy Tails Travel, Inc. charges an up-front consultation fee.

The Bottom Line

The main draw of Happy Tails Travel, Inc. is how they handle the logistics of air shipping the pet. They have a close relationship with airlines and know how to book the best flights for transporting your animal. Unfortunately, it’s not a good choice for puppies or other pets that aren’t suited for traveling in the cargo area of a plane.

Starwood pet travel logo rebranded as Royal Paws.

5. Starwood Animal Transport

Starwood Animal Transport has been in the pet shipping game for quite some time – 50 years in fact. They offer door-to-door service but to get the best prices you have to use one of 15 hubs across the country. The transport company offers air travel in addition to ground transportation in specially-designed RVs.

Benefits of Starwood Animal Transport

  • International and domestic shipping is available.
  • They offer air and ground transport service.
  • They provide air nanny service for qualifying pets.
  • USDA certified for pet transport, and drivers undergo TSA background checks.
  • Ground transport is done in two-person teams in RVs specially designed for pet travel.
  • Boarding services are offered at local kennels when trips are longer than one day.
  • 24/7 dispatch service to ensure your pet arrives on time.

Drawbacks of Starwood Animal Transport

  • They are not a BBB-accredited business.
  • Door-to-door service is offered, but it’s more expensive than hub-to-hub service.
  • There are only 15 hubs across the country.
  • You have to pay $3 a mile for door-to-door service, which can add up fast.

The Bottom Line

Starwood Animal Transport is an attractive choice because they offer more services than the competition. They’ll arrange your pet’s international travel for you, their employees receive pet care training, and they have a boarding service. These services come at a cost; Starwood is more expensive than other transportation options. You’ll pay extra if you need door-to-door service because they charge a per-mile rate for delivering pets from their hubs.

Pet shipping logo.

4. Air Animal

Air Animal was founded in 1977 by a veterinarian. The company’s long record of pet transportation reduces some of the stress of moving your pet. They have several packages available, ranging from $1,500 for basic travel and $8,000 for VIP packages.

Benefits of Air Animal

  • Air Animal is a member of the IPATA and ATA.
  • They offer a wide range of packages.
  • Frequent updates are provided during the trip.
  • Facilitates international travel.
  • They provide veterinary services for health certificates.
  • They have an A+ rating from the BBB.

Drawbacks of Air Animal

  • Air travel may not be suitable for your pet.
  • Add-ons like grooming services or exercise aren’t available.
  • They don’t offer pet lodging options.
  • Their services are more expensive than competitors.
  • They don’t offer long-distance ground transportation.

The Bottom Line

Like the other air-based pet transportation companies, Air Animal is a more expensive way to ship your pet. However, it is fast and efficient, meaning you’ll get your pet sooner than via ground transport. If your trip will require an overnight stay, Air Animal doesn’t offer pet lodging and is not the best option for your needs.

Exec pet shipping logo.

3. Exec Pets

The biggest thing that separates Exec Pets from other pet delivery companies is that their drivers are active or retired members of the military. Another distinction between Exec Pets and its competitors is that the company specializes in animals with disabilities or health issues.

Benefits of Exec Pets

  • Their drivers are vetted professionals that have a military background.
  • Exec Pets specializes in transporting animals with health issues.
  • Pets are transported in private vehicles with two drivers.
  • Their drivers use GPS so you can track your pet during the trip.
  • They provide food, water, and treats for your pet.
  • They’ll transport large pet families with a minimum of 8 animals.

Drawbacks of Exec Pets

  • Only domestic ground trips are offered.
  • You have to request a quote to get pricing information.
  • They don’t fill out paperwork or facilitate a veterinary health inspection.
  • It’s hard to find customer reviews of their services.
  • They’re not a member of IPATA.

The Bottom Line

Much like Royal Paws, Exec Pet provides a private door-to-door transportation service for pets. Drivers that are active military members or retired military are a draw for many customers. It’s also a good choice for pets with disabilities like blindness or deafness. Normally they offer an in-flight pet escort service, but that’s been discontinued during the COVID-19 pandemic.

Luxury pet movers services offered by Royal Paws.

2. Pet Van Lines

Pet Van Lines’ roomy vehicles are an attractive option for those with large pets. If you have a larger animal that most other pet shippers cannot accommodate, they should be able to handle the job.

Benefits of Pet Van Lines

  • The larger vehicles they use are roomier for pets.
  • They don’t have any breed restrictions.
  • Their fly-and-drive program relocates your car and pet at the same time.
  • They have a pet taxi service for short local trips.
  • You can get free quotes.

Drawbacks of Pet Van Lines

  • Not a member of IPATA
  • Only offers ground transportation.
  • They don’t help with preparing documents and vet visits before travel.
  • Not a BBB-accredited business.
  • Their prices aren’t listed on the website.

The Bottom Line

Pet Van Lines is a good choice for larger animals because their vehicles are larger and intended to give pets more space during the trip. Using this company to ship your pet can lead to some added uncertainty because they aren’t a member of IPATA, aren’t BBB-accredited, and don’t have many online reviews.

silhouette, running

1. CitizenShipper

CitizenShipper is slightly different from most of the other shipping companies on this list. Instead of being a dedicated pet shipping company, it’s an online marketplace that connects people with shipping needs with independent transport providers. This model allows you to pick the best driver for your needs based on their bid price, the number of successful trips they’ve completed, and reviews from real customers.

Benefits of CitizenShipper

  • It’s easy to use, and you’ll get quotes within minutes.
  • You get to pick your driver from the bids you receive.
  • The internal communication system makes it easy to connect with potential drivers.
  • You’ll save money versus traditional pet shipping companies.
  • The site has detailed driver profiles, badges, photos, and thousands of customer reviews and feedback.
  • All the drivers on CitizenShipper are vetted and pass stringent background checks.
  • You can communicate directly with the driver during the trip.
  • Many drivers offer GPS tracking, so you’ll know exactly where your pet is at all times.
  • They offer a Booking Assurance Guarantee every time you book and pay.
  • It’s the only transportation service that offers a pet protection plan.
  • They provide 24/7 vet access through select drivers.
  • CitizenShipper is a great option if you’re looking to ship a pet on a tight timeline.

Drawbacks of CitizenShipper

The Bottom Line

CitizenShipper is a marketplace and not a shipping company. This means you have more flexibility in selecting a driver that meets the criteria that matters most to you and paying a rate that fits your budget. The platform allows you to communicate directly with drivers throughout the bidding process, so you feel confident you’re making the right choice.

CitizenShipper provides layers of screening and vetting while offering customization for pets with special or specific requirements. The site facilitates communication and is a community that features detailed driver profiles so you can get to know the driver before you book. You have the ability to read real reviews right on the website. The transparency throughout the booking process is something that other pet shipping companies don’t come close to. You can post your pet shipping need today and get free quotes within minutes!

Summary of the 8 Alternatives to Blue Collar: Outstanding Features, Pros and Cons

When it comes to transporting your beloved pets, you want the best possible service to ensure their safety and comfort throughout the journey. While Blue Collar Pet Transport is a well-known name in the industry, it’s always a good idea to explore other options. We have researched and compiled a list of the top 8 alternatives to Blue Collar Pet Transport for your pet’s long-distance trip. Among these, CitizenShipper stands out as the best alternative for ground transport in the United States. Check out our detailed comparison table below, which includes a “Best for” column to help you identify the ideal choice for your specific pet transport needs.

Alternative Features Pros Cons Best For
CitizenShipper Online marketplace, vetted drivers, GPS tracking Customizable options, communication with drivers, 24/7 vet access, affordable, pet protection plan, Booking Assurance. Best alternative for ground transport in the US Only available in the United States, not a dedicated animal shipping service Ground transport, customizable services, budget-friendly options
Airpets International Air and ground transport, USDA accredited, IPATA member Quick service, transports various species, exercise and grooming add-ons Expensive, mainly focused on air travel, planning required, long carrier stays, breed restrictions Large pets, ground transport
Royal Paws Private transport, USDA APHIS certified Exclusive transportation, two drivers, real-time updates, no health certification required Expensive, limited information on website, mainly focused on dogs, only available in the US and Canada Pets with disabilities or health issues, ground transport
Happy Tails Travel, Inc. Air and ground transport, IPATA member, 100% safety record Handles travel logistics, discounts for multiple animals, works with shelters and vets Mainly focused on air travel, unaccompanied pets, additional fees, no weekend shipping, consultation fee Air travel, comprehensive packages
Starwood Animal Transport Air and ground transport, USDA certified, TSA background checks Door-to-door service, air nanny service, RV ground transport, 24/7 dispatch Not BBB-accredited, expensive door-to-door service, limited hubs Air and ground transport, door-to-door service
Air Animal Air transport, IPATA and ATA member, veterinarian-founded Wide range of packages, frequent updates, international travel, A+ BBB rating Expensive, no add-ons like grooming, no lodging, no long-distance ground transportation Air travel logistics, adoption services
Exec Pets Ground transport, military drivers, GPS tracking Specializes in animals with health issues, private vehicles, large pet families Domestic only, no help with paperwork, limited reviews, not IPATA member Exclusive, private ground transport
Pet Van Lines Ground transport, large vehicles, no breed restrictions Roomy vehicles, fly-and-drive program, pet taxi service, free quotes Not IPATA member, no document preparation, not BBB-accredited, prices not listed International air travel, various species transport
Table 1: A comparison of top pet transportation alternatives in the US, highlighting CitizenShipper as the best choice for ground transport.

Questions You Should Ask Pet Shippers

Finding the right pet shipping service doesn’t come down to price and availability alone. Ask these questions to be sure that the transporter you use will fit your specifications.

  • Are you a member of IPATA?
  • What licenses do you have?
  • Can you arrange or assist with the paperwork on my behalf?
  • Do you transport animals overnight? If so, how do you board pets overnight?
  • Do you supply a pet carrier for the trip?
  • How can I prepare my pet before the move?

How to Look Out for Pet Shipping Scams

All of the businesses on this list are reputable and have a strong track record of reliable pet delivery. However, scammers have taken advantage of these companies’ good names to victimize potential pet shipping customers. Here are a few red flags to look out for:

  • They rush you into payment: Beware of any company that pressures you into paying immediately; before you have the chance to research and confirm they are who they say they are.
  • They only accept direct transfers: Scammers don’t want you to pay with PayPal or a credit card. These methods of payment can be reversed after it’s determined you’ve been scammed. Instead, they’ll insist you pay with Western Union, MoneyGram, and similar non-refundable money transfers.
  • Their address is blacklisted: Scammers will repeatedly use the same address. A quick Google search of the address they provide can reveal if it’s previously used for scamming customers.
  • They offer phony insurance policies: If someone is trying to sell you insurance on behalf of these shippers – run away! They don’t provide insurance policies as part of their services.