If you love being around animals and exploring every corner of the United States, a career as a pet transport professional may be perfect for you! There are many ways to break into the pet transport industry, but the easiest and most lucrative is joining the CitizenShipper marketplace. Unlike other animal transportation gigs, you’ll be your own boss, deciding when, where and how often you are out on the road.
There are a few things to understand before you can jump into the car and start driving animals around the country. Over the years, we’ve found that drivers who are prepared for the fine details of pet travel have more success than those that go in without a plan. Our goal at CItizenShipper is to help our drivers maximize their profits and make pet travel a fulfilling career.
Tips for Standing Out When Applying for Pet Transport Jobs
Familiarizing Yourself with Local Laws and Regulations
Did you know that the United States government has established an entire governing body for animal transportation? It makes sense, animals are very vulnerable to negligence or even abuse; we don’t just want any yahoo with a truck to be able to do whatever they want out on the road with pets.
So who is in charge of regulating pet transportation? The answer may surprise you: the United States Department of Agriculture (USDA). The USDA is a massive government agency, with many different branches that deal with specific fields that are loosely under the umbrella of “agriculture.” It turns out that animal transportation is one such field that falls under the jurisdiction of the USDA.
Within the USDA, the Animal and Plant Health Inspection Service (APHIS) is in charge of animal transportation. APHIS also enforces the Animal Welfare Act (AWA) — a wide-ranging law, as its name would suggest, outlines how animals are treated and ensures their welfare. So what does the AWA say about pet travel and who needs to be registered or licensed?
Who Needs to be Licensed:
- Class A License — Breeder — This license is for breeders who only sell puppies they’ve bred themselves.
- Class B License — Dealer — If you resell puppies you’ve purchased from breeders, you need this license.
- Class C License — Exhibitor — You’ll need this license if you exhibit animals to the public.
Who Needs to be Registered:
- Class H Registration — Intermediate Handler — Anyone (other than a dealer, research facility, exhibitor) who receives custody of animals for commercial transportation needs a Class H registration.
- Class R Registration — Research Facility — Any facility that uses animals for research purposes must be registered.
- Class T Registration — Carrier — All animal transporters need a Class T registration.
The good news is that as an animal transporter, you’re considered an “intermediate handler” and only need to be registered. What does an intermediate handler mean, exactly? It means that you are taking care of an animal — aka “handling” — in-between the owner/shipper and the destination. This is the case whether you’re transporting a puppy from a breeder to the buyer, or simply transporting a cat from one end of the country to the other.
As an intermediate handler, registration is a much less rigorous step than becoming USDA licensed. The registration process is free of charge and even better, doesn’t require the kind of rigorous inspections that are necessary in order to obtain a USDA license.
You may have heard the term “USDA certification” in regards to animal transportation. While this terminology is commonly used online, it’s not actually something that exists. That’s right, USDA certification is definitely a real thing, but it doesn’t have anything to do with transporting dogs or cats. In fact, USDA certification isn’t even required for pet travel professionals who want to transport animals across state lines. That’s not to say there aren’t any rules and regulations for transporting pets, but those enforced by APHIS boil down to becoming registered by the USDA.
Now, if you’re transporting exotic animals or livestock, the requirements are a bit more rigorous. Every state has its own regulations for these sorts of critters, so if you plan to expand your transportation business, make sure you know the regulations for each state from which you plan to pick up or drop off.
As you read up on what sorts of requirements are mandated by APHIS or the USDA, you may come across training programs. It’s important for pet transporters to remember that the only USDA mandates for pet transporters are to be registered. Again, this is a free application process that only takes a few weeks, if that. If you come across an online program that claims to be an APHIS-approved training program, take caution — it’s most likely illegitimate.
Ensuring Proper Safety Equipment for Pet Transport
When it comes to vehicle requirements for pet travel, there are a wide variety of options available. In fact, USDA doesn’t have any specific requirements for vehicles, but there are a few general guidelines to follow:
- The vehicle should have a functioning air conditioning system.
- There should be enough room for the pet carrier in the passenger compartment.
- Never leave a pet unattended in the vehicle, even for a short period of time.
- While it’s not a requirement, your vehicle should be in good condition — breaking down with pets in your car can be stressful for you, aggravating for the pet owner and dangerous for the animals.
If you don’t have a vehicle but are still interested in animal transportation, consider working as a flight nanny. A flight nanny accompanies pets while they travel long distances on airplanes, from the moment they’re dropped off at the terminal to when they’re picked up on the other side of the trip.
Your vehicle should be adequately insured in order to transport any animal, from dogs to cats. One of the biggest benefits of using CitizenShipper is that every transport comes with a pet transportation plan. This sets CitizenShipper animal transporters apart from any other pet shipping companies.
Knowledge of Pet Behavior and Handling Techniques
One of the most important jobs of a transporter is ensuring the safety of the animals. After all, you’re not just transporting cargo, you’re helping people move a pet that is a member of their family. That’s why it’s important to know how to properly handle animals and provide them a safe and comfortable ride — whether it’s a dog, cat or iguana!
Creating a Stress-Free Environment
Traveling is stressful, even for humans. Now, imagine that you have no idea what’s going on and you’re alone in a car with a total stranger. Seems stressful, right?
That’s why the best animal transporters know how to create a stress-free environment for their passengers. How do you go about reducing or even eliminating animals’ stress during transport?
- First of all, make sure the animal has a comfortable place in the vehicle during the trip.
- Make sure the kennel or carrier is properly secured in the vehicle.
- You can place towels or blankets over the carrier to reduce visual stimulation.
- Ask the pet’s owner to bring a comfort item like a blanket or toy.
- Make sure you bring enough food and water.
- Avoid erratic driving and keep yourself calm — animals have incredible intuition, and if you’re yelling or swerving on the road, it will increase their stress levels.
It’s also helpful to have a strong background in animal handling. While having knowledge about how to react to animals’ behaviors is helpful, it’s not a requirement to be an animal transporter. After all, you’re not a veterinarian. If you can find local animal behavior and handling courses, we encourage you to enroll because the more experience you have with animals, the better.
Ability to Communicate Effectively with Pet Owners and Other Transportation Professionals
When you are hired as a pet transporter, you’ll be given a certain window of time that the animal is expected to be delivered within. That being said, it’s better to provide the animal with the most comfortable and safe experience possible.
- If you’re running behind, it’s almost always better to be honest and open with the pet owners about any delays.
- Often, these delays are out of your hands — whether it’s road closures, inclement weather or other obstructions.
- Don’t exceed the recommended amount of hours driving per day to make up for lost time. Most pet owners are okay with a delay as long as their animals arrive safely and happy.
- If you have an animal with special needs or medical conditions, do what you can to meet any time requests of the owner. But again, avoid any dangerous driving behavior in order to meet deadlines. The animals’ safety is paramount.
Understanding Pet Travel Regulations and Documentation
You may think that there is a ton of regulations and documentation required for an animal to be transported across state lines. While every state has its own standards and regulations, there really isn’t that much you need before transporting animals. In fact, the most important document — a Certificate of Veterinary Inspection (CVI) — should be prepared ahead of time by the animal’s owner. As a transporter, your main responsibility is to make sure the owner takes care of these steps.
Never transport an animal that doesn’t have proper documentation. If you’re caught transporting an improperly documented animal, you can be subject to sanctions. Even worse, the pet may be confiscated, leading to serious delays and trauma for the animal. In fact, you may consider “holding their hand” a bit and telling them exactly what they need to do so you don’t show up on the day of the transport and discover something’s missing.
In terms of state-specific travel regulations and documentation, point your client to the APHIS website. There, they’ll be able to find information on every state’s regulations and required documentation.
Let’s say you planned to transport a dog from Florida to Arizona
1. You’d head to the APHIS site and select Arizona as the destination.
2. Selecting Arizona will automatically redirect you to a page on the state’s agriculture website.
3. You would then scroll down to the bottom under Domestic Animals and select the page for dogs.
4. That page shows all of the requirements for all dogs entering Arizona — which include a CVI and a rabies vaccination.
Where to Find Pet Transport Jobs?
Becoming an animal transporter can be a fulfilling and unique career choice. There are many ways to get started as a transporter, and how you go about finding these jobs depends on what area you’d like to specialize in.
One of the best ways to find work as an animal transporter without going through the hiring process of traditional pet shipping companies is to get started on CitizenShipper.
Instead of a classic transportation model, CitizenShipper is an animal transportation marketplace — the biggest in the United States, in fact! All you have to do is sign up, pass a background check, get your USDA registration and you’re ready to start bidding on work. It’s the quickest way to start making a salary as an animal transporter.
Head over to CitizenShipper’s website today to sign up and get started as an independent pet transporter! You’ll have the freedom to work when and how often you want, charge the rate you feel is fair for your services, and be your own boss!
Content Writer at CitizenShipper. I’ve also been published on The Penny Hoarder, Mommy Poppins and mxdwn.