How to Choose the Safest Pet Travel Method for Continental PCS

Patrick MacFarland Patrick MacFarland · Updated May 16, 2024

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When you’re moving after receiving PCS orders, logistical matters may be a heavy, stressful weight on you and your family. If you own pets, you have to arrange for their transportation to your new home.

Luckily, the Department of Defense has launched a new reimbursement program for pet transportation during a PCS move. So financially, you’re pretty well-covered when you need to move a dog, cat or other domestic animal. But the biggest — and most important question — remains: what is the safest way to relocate animals?

There are a few different methods to get from point A to point B — including train travel! — and most of them are very safe. However, one method stands out for being the most safe and humane, plus the least stressful: ground transportation with an animal relocation professional.

Why Ground Transport Is More Safe Than Flying For Your Pets

The bottom line is that ground transportation is the most reliable and safest approach to moving a pet long distances. There are several reasons why it’s better than air transportation:

Companionship During Ground Transportation

  • The transporter is there every minute of the journey during ground travel, able to tend to any needs.
  • If traveling in the cargo area, your pet will be alone for hours at a time.

Ease of Exercise and Bathroom Breaks

  • It’s easy to take potty and exercise breaks any time they’re needed.
  • Pets must remain inside their carrier at all times, unless using a designated potty area inside the airport.
  • Not all airports have these designated relief areas.

Least Stressful Experience

  • Travel can stress your pet — if they’re in the cargo hold, nobody can soothe them, which can lead to emotional trauma or even physical injury due to panicking.
  • Because the transporter is right there traveling in the car with your pet, it’s easy to stop and comfort the animal with treats, toys or just good old-fashioned affection.
  • Plus, pets are a lot more used to traveling in a car or van than flying in an airplane. It’s just a more familiar experience.

Climate Controlled Vehicles

  • While the area in which your pet travels in the airplane is climate controlled, it is susceptible to extreme weather conditions.
  • This is why airlines won’t allow animals traveling in the cargo area to fly if the weather is too hot or too cold at the arrival or departure airport of the flight.
  • Ground transporters use temperature-controlled vehicles and cargo areas — no matter what the temperature is outside, the interior of the vehicle will be comfortable at all times.

Safety of Do It Yourself Versus Hiring an Animal Transporter

Now you know that ground travel is by far the safest and most humane means of relocation. You may be thinking to yourself, “I can save some money by handling my dog’s transport by myself.”

While this may be the case for some military members with PCS orders, it’s certainly not the case for most. Pet transportation can be more work than it seems — that’s why it’s worth it to pay a professional to relocate your pet.

  • Pet transporters have experience driving long distances with pets and understand cat and dog safety. They know the process of securing your pet in a crate, how many hours to drive per day, how long to go between bathroom and exercise breaks, and of course, they’re animal lovers!
  • They have the right equipment for the job, so you don’t have to buy kennels or harnesses for a one-off move.
  • Lodging and meals are usually baked into the price a transporter quotes you. If they’re driving with multiple pets, they won’t charge you the full price of a hotel room — making it much less expensive than paying for your own hotel and food while you’re on the road.

How to Get Reimbursement for Your Continental PCS Move

As mentioned earlier in the article, the government recently adopted a new pet reimbursement policy for military members who have completed a PCS move. In order to get reimbursed to transport pets, troops must:

  • Keep all receipts related to the animal relocation — you’ll need them to get reimbursed.
  • Use Form DD 1351-2 to claim pet expenses. You’ll get reimbursed once the travel claim is completed.
  • If the pet is flying cargo because it exceeds the weight limit for in-cabin travel, the receipt must include the pet’s weight.
  • You may get reimbursed for pet travel, microchipping, quarantines, boarding, hotel service charges, virus immunity testing and pet licenses.
  • These reimbursements have a limit of $550 for travel within the United States and $2,000 outside the continental United States.

Ground transportation is the safest, most humane and simply put, best way to move a dog, cat or other animal. Furthermore, CitizenShipper ensures your pet will be taken care of with the utmost importance. CitizenShipper also makes it easy for you to find military reimbursement forms. Just follow the link and fill out the form.