No matter the reason, transporting a pet long distances is stressful. You may be a breeder with customers thousands of miles away, or you’re making a big cross-country move and can’t personally take the family cat along for the ride. When it comes time to hire a pet transportation service, it’s important to research which company best fits the needs of you and your pet. After all, your peace of mind and the animal’s safety and comfort are at stake.
It’s confusing to wade through the dozens of pet transportation companies on the market. How do you know which one will do the best job and put you at ease while your animal is on the road or in-flight? There are a few big names in the industry that come up over and over on “best pet transport company” lists like CitizenShipper, Airpets International and Air Animal.
As their name indicates, Air Animal focuses its pet transportation services on air travel. That’s not feasible for a lot of pet moves, especially if it involves large breeds, snub-nosed breeds or people shipping from locations with a very hot or cold climate.
Here are 15 great alternatives to Air Animal you can use for your next pet shipping job!
What Are the Costs to Consider?
If you’re debating driving an animal long distances on your own or using a pet shipping service, cost is certainly part of the discussion. There are several variables to consider when trying to calculate cost.
- Air transport may seem less expensive but preparing your pet for travel and other costs can make it more costly than ground transportation.
- Distance is the most important factor in how much the trip will cost. Pet shipping companies typically charge on a per-mile basis.
- The size of your pet could increase the cost of the trip.
- If your pet needs special needs, it could limit your options if transporters cannot accommodate them.
- VIP service — when a pet is shipped by itself — comes with a premium price tag.
- The weather and time of year can affect the cost. During high-demand travel periods there is less space for pets in the cargo hold.
Most pet shipping companies require you to include the details of your trip, the kind of animal you’re transporting and any special considerations before providing you with a quote. Some businesses require a fee or deposit to see your quote, while others like CitizenShipper always allow you to see quotes for free.
15. Animals Away
Animals Away has a lot of experience in the pet shipping industry. It’s shipped over 50,000 pets over the last 30+ years. It has an A+ rating from the BBB, is a member of International Pet and Animal Transportation Association (IPATA) and has a USDA Handler’s License.
- Animals Away has a USDA Handlers License and is a member of IPATA.
- Pet shipping containers are provided by the company.
- Ground transportation isn’t available for most of the United States.
- You have to contact the company to get a price quote.
14. Animal Land
Animal Land specializes in air transportation though it does have ground options. The biggest benefit of this company is it connects you with a personal move instructor that arranges shots, tickets and all the flight paperwork.
- Almost 25 years of experience shipping animals.
- Handles every aspect of the trip including shots, paperwork and booking the flight.
- Its services are mostly based around air travel.
- Animal Land doesn’t provide carriers so you’ll have to buy one for the trip.
13. Happy Tails Travel, Inc.
Happy Tails Travel claims an impressive 100% safety record since it began shipping pets in 1995. Like Animal Land, this company handles the logistics of shipping your pet.
- It makes all the arrangements for your pet’s travel.
- There’s a multiple-animal discount policy.
- Only transports pets in the cargo hold of an airplane.
- It doesn’t offer pet transportation service on the weekends.
12. Starwood Animal Transport
Starwood Animal Transport has been in the industry for 50 years and offers international and domestic transportation. They offer ground and air transportation. They offer door-to-door service but you have to pay an additional per-mile fee for transportation from one of their 15 hubs.
- Your pet is delivered in a specially-designed RV.
- All pet shipments are done in two-person teams.
- If you can’t pick up or drop off your pet from a hub you are charged a $3 per-mile rate for door-to-door service.
- Starwood Animal Transport isn’t BBB-accredited.
uShip is a transportation marketplace instead of a dedicated pet transportation service. As a more modern alternative you can find good rates compared to traditional shipping companies. However, few of the drivers on uShip are pet experts or dedicated pet transporters, so your mileage may vary.
- uShip offers more flexibility than traditional pet shipping companies.
- You can save money by using a marketplace instead of professional pet movers
- The carriers aren’t employees of uShip.
- Most drivers on the platform aren’t pet experts or dedicated pet transporters.
10. Airpets International
Airpets International was founded in the UK five decades ago, mainly shipping pets by air. Over the years it’s expanded to international services using an Air Nanny. Airpets International is a member of IPATA and has USDA accreditation.
- It has over five decades of experience shipping pets.
- You can purchase exercise and grooming add-ons.
- Airpets International is one of the pricier pet shipping options. Domestic moves start at $1000 and international moves start at $2000.
- Ground transportation is available from Airpets International but it’s not the company’s bread-and-butter.
9. Pet Van Lines
If you have a larger breed of dog and need to have it transported, Pet Van Lines is a good alternative to Air Animal. Unlike flight-based transportation companies, Pet Van Lines is exclusively a ground transport business. Because it uses a large fleet of transportation vehicles, there aren’t any breed restrictions when you use Pet Van Lines.
- Pet Van Lines transports pets using a fleet of larger vehicles.
- There are no breed restrictions to use Pet Van Lines.
- It’s not a member of IPATA nor is it a BBB-accredited company.
- Pet Van Lines only offers ground transportation.
8. Pet Express
Pet Express was founded in 1978 and focuses much of its business on airplane transportation. Like other plane-based pet transportation companies, it handles every step of the shipping process. That means you won’t have to worry about anything like booking the flight, handling vaccinations and health inspections.
- It provides “comfort stops” to feed the pet and give it exercise during long layovers.
- Has a “crate calculator” feature to choose the right pet carrier for your trip.
- Pet Express doesn’t provide pricing information on its website.
- It doesn’t provide ground transportation service.
7. Worldwide Animal Travel
Another international pet shipping company is Worldwide Animal Travel. Founded and based in Canada, it ships pets to just about any location in the world. So if you are shipping puppies from Canada or you’re a Canadian breeder shipping to international clients, Worldwide Animal Travel is a good option.
- Air Nannies provide “comfort stops” when there are layovers.
- You can arrange for door-to-door service.
- Worldwide Animal Travel doesn’t offer ground transportation.
- Its transportation services are more expensive than other options.
6. Royal Paws
Royal Paws is the right choice when you want to give your pet a VIP experience. This pet transportation service uses private vehicles to deliver each animal.
- Royal Paws uses private, climate-controlled SUVs or minivans to transport pets.
- Real-time updates are provided by the driver through Facebook.
- Royal Paws is one of the more expensive transport options.
- It’s not a member of IPATA.
Based out of Austin, PetRelocation has been moving pets since 2004. It considers itself a full-service pet travel agency so it will guide you through every step of the moving process.
- PetRelocation values quality over quantity, so you know your pet is well-attended to.
- It has more than 15 years of experience shipping pets.
- It ships a limited number of pets each month, so space may be limited.
- PetRelocation’s services are focused on air travel.
4. Exec Pets
Exec Pet is a unique pet transportation service because it’s drivers are active or retired military members. It also puts a special focus on transporting pets with special needs.
- It specializes in transporting animals with disabilities or health issues.
- You can track your pet with GPS during the drive.
- Exec Pets doesn’t fill out paperwork or facilitate health inspections.
- It’s not a member of IPATA.
3. Enroute Pet Transportation
Enroute Pet Transportation is similar to Royal Pets because it provides exclusive VIP pet transport. While that is a more luxurious and less stressful experience for your pet, it’ll cost you more than other options. The company does provide group transportation options.
- Your pet can travel in a private vehicle.
- It has financing options so you can make low monthly payments.
- It’s a more expensive option than other pet transporters.
- Enroute Pet Transportation isn’t open on weekends.
2. Paws N’ Relax
Founded in 2017, Paws N’ Relax is one of the newer businesses on the scene. However, during that time the company has made a strong name for itself in the pet shipping industry. The company is owned and operated by a veteran, which is certainly a big bonus for some pet owners.
- Paws n’ Relax offers services as an Air Nanny as well as ground transportation.
- It will ship rare or exotic pets like birds and reptiles.
- It usually only ships two pets at a time.
- You need to submit your information to receive a quote.
CitizenShipper is a pet shipping marketplace, similar to the model of uShip. However, many of the drivers on the platform are pet experts with businesses dedicated specifically to transporting animals. On the marketplace you can connect with independent transport providers, pick the best driver for your needs and budget, and communicate directly with the driver. Because drivers bid on your shipment, you’ll save money compared with traditional pet shipping services.
- Once you post a bid you’ll get quotes within minutes.
- It’s always free to view your bids.
- An internal communication system makes it easy to discuss details with the driver.
- Detailed driver profiles on the marketplace help you feel comfortable choosing a driver.
- It’s the only pet shipping company with a Booking Assurance Guarantee and a pet protection plan.
- Citizenshipper only provides domestic pet transportation service.
- It’s a shipping marketplace and not a transport company.
- The drivers are independent transporters and not pet shipping companies.
Air Transport Versus Ground Transport
For many pet owners that need to ship a pet, the choice between air transportation and ground transportation is a fairly easy one. If you have a large breed, a pet with emotional or psychological needs or an animal prone to breathing issues, ground transport is a no-brainer. But there are times when both options are viable. When that’s the case, how do you choose?
Here are a few pros and cons when you’re deciding between air and ground transport:
Pros of Air Transport
- It’s faster than ground transportation, meaning you’ll be reunited with your family members sooner.
- If your pet is small it can ride in the cabin of the plane with an Air Nanny.
- Some air transport companies take care of the travel logistics.
Cons of Air Transport
- Due to current COVID conditions, only a few airlines ship animals.
- The animal can spend several consecutive hours in the crate during the boarding and disembarking process.
- Large breeds of dog have to be transported in the cargo hold.
Pros of Ground Transport
- Easier to get updates from the transporter on the pet’s status while on the road.
- Ground transportation doesn’t require as much advance preparation.
- Usually it’s the safest option — though flying and driving are both very safe modes of transporting pets.
Cons of Ground Transport
- Long distance trips can take a great deal of time.
- You can’t ship a pet internationally using ground transportation.
- Overnight lodging on long-distance trips can be difficult and add expenses.
When you need to ship your pet long distances, you want to choose a pet transportation service that will fit your budget but also allay your stress. Using a shipping marketplace like CitizenShipper allows you to review how the individual shipper has performed in the past and chat directly with them to be sure they’re the right choice. List a pet shipment on CitizenShipper today and get free quotes within minutes!
Last updated at March 4, 2022
Content Writer at CitizenShipper. I’ve also been published on The Penny Hoarder, Mommy Poppins and mxdwn.