Why Road Beats Air For Transporting Your Pet

CitizenShipper CitizenShipper · Updated March 8, 2023

There could be many reasons why you need to transport your dog or cat over a long distance. But when you do so, you certainly want every assurance possible that they will be treated well, and arrive at their destination safely and in good health.

But a handful of recent instances, one in which a dog tragically died, and others that saw pets being misdirected, have focused attention on the pitfalls of using air travel to send animals over long distances.

One case saw a Chihuahua dog placed in a plane’s overhead locker at the request of a flight attendant during a flight from Houston to New York. By the time the flight touched down at LaGuardia airport, the dog had died, CNN reported.

The carrier involved, United Airlines, quickly admitted responsibility for the actions of a member of its cabin crew, and a spokesman told CNN that the flight attendant should not have told the passenger to put the dog in the onboard lockers.

“We are thoroughly investigating what occurred to prevent this from ever happening again”, it added in a statement.

United’s policies allow for some animals to be carried in a plane’s cabin if they are in a suitable carrier which can be stowed under the passenger’s seat.

Naturally, the case aroused the anger of animal rights campaigners, with People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals (PETA) urging that the flight attendant responsible be fired and charged with animal cruelty.

To compound the discomfort for United Airlines, the same week saw further reports that a family who went to collect their German Shepherd dog at Kansas City airport after it should have arrived from Oregon, were given the wrong dog – a Great Dane – whose carrier had been mistaken for that of their own dog, called Irgo.

Meanwhile, it was established that Irgo was still likely in transit, and headed for Japan. United later owned up and said the mix-up most likely occurred during a connection in Denver.

pet air travel
Pet air travel can leave owners feeling like their pets are treated as ‘cargo’ rather than members of the family.

An Unwanted Doggy Detour

A second case, less than a week later, saw a puppy being delivered to its new owner, and supposedly traveling from Virginia to Idaho, was instead forced to endure a journey via Detroit, Los Angeles, and Salt Lake City.

The dog’s new owner, Josh Schlaich, told CNN that he received a call from someone claiming to be an employee of the carrier, Delta Airlines. After abruptly telling him the dog had been delayed, and giving him the Christian name and phone number of the person with whom the dog would be spending the night, the person abruptly ended the call. Schlaich claims he got similar treatment, being hung up on several times when he tried to contact Delta.

An approach to the airline through its Facebook page finally elicited a response, Fox5NY reported. And after being told the dog would arrive Sunday afternoon – a day later than originally scheduled – it finally reached its correct destination Sunday evening, albeit safely and in good health.

But that wasn’t before ground staff at Boise Airport almost gave Mr. Schlaich the wrong dog – because it just happened that one of its littermates was traveling the same route.

Delta refunded the dog’s owner and apologized for the delay, adding that it was investigating the incident to find out what had gone wrong.

pet travel air
Air travel can be a scary experience for a pet that’s treated like cargo.

With CitizenShipper, You’re In Charge

Naturally, all this controversy alarms us here at CitizenShipper. We take every bit of the work involved in getting any animal safely from A to B very seriously.

That’s why we designed our platform to be as personalized as possible. Even before you hire a driver, once they’ve quoted for your job, you can use our site to ask any questions about them, or what they’ll do to make sure that your precious pet, or other cargo, is kept safe.

One of the most prominent parts of the drivers’ profiles is their reviews, where genuine customers have given their feedback. You can see details of the trip undertaken, and many people give details of the booking process, the details they provided, and the contact they received during their animal’s trip – all so that you can get a good idea of what will be involved.

Once you’ve hired a driver and agreed on the terms of a shipment with them, you can chat with them, and check any details including itineraries and ETAs.

Drivers Doing A Job They Love

But best of all, because drivers working for CitizenShipper are doing the work because they enjoy it, you can be assured that they will look after your animal(s), and will plan their journey thoroughly, allowing them the time needed to take regular breaks and make sure that your pet gets to go to the toilet, and if necessary is fed on a regular schedule.

Just like a cab driver on a long-distance fare, the drivers like to get to know the animals they’ve been entrusted with. So they’ll make sure that they’re calm and as relaxed as possible at all times. They know some dogs can be nervous travelers, and they’ll do everything they can to ease their nerves.

And unlike on a plane, the animal will never be out of their sight. Many driving teams you can be introduced to through CitizenShipper work in pairs so that they can take turns to do the driving and be on the watch. They plan every journey meticulously, and regular leg-stretching breaks are built into their schedule, so Fido gets a break from being in his pen as often as needed.

Of course, another plus is that your dog or cat won’t be subjected to the stress of passing through any unfamiliar terminal buildings, with all their associated hubbub. So there’s no risk of them coming into contact with scenarios that might freak them out. They are simply chauffeured from door to door, with only essential stops, for animals and humans, made along the way.

You can even expect to get regular updates from many drivers, who will keep you informed of their progress, and aim to reassure you that all’s well. Of course, you can choose how they’re able to contact you, but in the unlikely event of any emergency, you’ll know about it right away. Of course, the vast majority of journeys will be totally incident-free – but isn’t it good to know that we offer you that direct communication channel should it be needed?

pet ground transport
Pets get one-on-one attention with CitizenShipper drivers.

We Make It Personal

Sending a pet via CitizenShipper is a very personalized experience, from your dealings with the people who bid on your consignment, to choosing who gets your job, and then interacting with them once they’re on the road, right through to their destination. It’s just you and the driver (and their assistant if they’re also along to help out), and they know that you’re bound to feel a little apprehensive about putting your beloved animals in their care – so they’ll do what they can to put your mind at rest. In short, you’re in charge at every stage of the process.

Contrast that with an airline, when you quite simply won’t know what happens to your pet at any point of the journey between checking-in and collection, or who handles them. Yes, they carry liability insurance, but how much more comforting is it knowing exactly who is looking after them, and that they’re doing a job because they’ve chosen to? Drivers on our platform only bid on the jobs they want to do, and they’re never pressured to take on more work than they can manage.

You get a host of other benefits by using CitizenShipper; here are some of the most important ones:

  • See pictures of the driver and their vehicle before you hire them: Profiles of drivers who work through CitizenShipper include a section where they can upload pictures taken of themselves while at work. You will often see their vehicle and how it’s kitted out, so you can use this information to decide whether you want to hire them.
  • Background-checked drivers: We know that, to many people, those driving on behalf of CitizenShipper are our ‘public’ face. So we do extensive checks on each one before allowing them to post a profile on our site.
  • No sedation given unless you specifically request it: Drivers will have fully-equipped vehicles, with, for example, pens and clean bedding for each animal. So they will work hard to make sure your pet is put at ease before they start out, and stays that way throughout the trip. You can choose to give sedatives to your pet if you believe this will help them stay calm – but this is totally your choice
  • Real-time communication with the driver while they’re on the road: Many of the drivers will spend some of the time during their rest breaks to take some pictures and send them straight to you via SMS or email. So you can see how they’re getting on and will have the chance to ask questions of how the journey’s going, as well as getting updates on ETAs.
  • Drivers will work around your own itinerary: When you book for an animal to travel by air, you have to work to the airline’s schedule, which might have a major bearing on your own journey plans. You may have to get to the airport several hours before the flight’s departure, and there’s then the stress of getting your pet to the right location for it to be checked in and boarded. On the other hand, drivers will consult with you at the booking stage to enable them to pick up your pet when it’s good for you.
  • Drivers plan feeding and watering breaks into their schedules. Again with an airline, you’re beholden to their timetables, and once your pet has been checked in, you have no way of checking on how their journey is going. Drivers on assignments for CitizenShipper, on the other hand, work out their own schedules and will factor time for exercise and toilet breaks into the time needed for a journey. And you have input into this too, so can work closely with them to plan your own timetable around their expectations for your journey, if necessary.
  • Expert, veterinary help on hand. Many of the businesses offering services through CitizenShipper have veterinarian help on call, or may even be qualified animal doctors themselves. They often see their service as an extension of those they give in their professional capacity. Your pet(s) will be in safe hands.
  • Clear, easy-to-use dispute resolution process. Even before you make a booking, you’re welcome to browse our FAQs, which answer the most regularly asked queries about our service and how it works. This includes the possibility for a neutral party to arbitrate between parties and offer a proposed resolution.

Your Shipment Is More Than Just Another Job

By its very nature, communication between a plane in the air and people on the ground is very restricted, which is why every airline lays down very strict rules which you must satisfy before it will accept your pet on any flight.

The top and bottom is that, to the drivers working on behalf of CitizenShipper, transporting your pets and your possessions safely is their livelihood. So they depend on doing the job well, and earning positive feedback from our customers, to become trusted in the job, and that’s how they then build a sound business.

The number of five-star reviews we’ve had for our service on Trustpilot bears witness to the benefits of overland shipping of your pets, as opposed to sending them by air.

We’re proud to have achieved an 84% of ‘excellent’ scores on the site. We don’t rest on our laurels and are aiming to improve that all the time, while in individual cases, we know unforeseen difficulties can arise, and each driver will try to deal with these in a caring and sympathetic way. Meanwhile, here are some of the complimentary reviews we’ve been given:

  • “awesome!!! Very caring for our American Bulldog. — is by no means a small dog 130lbs. lol they made every effort to keep him comfortable. They sent pictures of him almost daily and kept in constant contact with us. Very professional and caring people. Would recommend to anyone and will use them again when needed.” The client’s dog was transported from Santa Clarita, CA to Bristow. VA.
  • “John was courteous, thoughtful and a pleasure to work with – even after my dog had a mini tantrum soon after meeting him. He was able to calm her down and earn her trust. His service was greatly appreciated and I would recommend him to others.” The client’s dog was transported from Manassas, VA to Doraville, GA.
  • If I could give Deb 6 stars, I would! Deb kept us informed the whole way. She picked Goldie up on time and she made it to Philly exactly when she said she would. She did an AWESOME job with Goldie. She treated our pup like family – which is the most important thing in this whole process. We will definitely use her in the future. Highly recommend!” The client’s dog was transported from Marietta, GA to Philadelphia, PA.

Given these examples – and plenty more you can find on our Trustpilot.com pages here – you can see that CitizenShipper is providing a much-needed service that’s greatly appreciated by the vast majority of our customers.

And should you encounter any problems, we’re always at hand to try to sort things out for you. Like any business, the people who partner with us as drivers and their helpers are the true ‘face’ of our business, and most do the job simply because they love animals and driving – as opposed to just having to deal with them as part of their daily routine.

Our bottom line is that you’re in control – you’re free to take as much time as you need to research the background and genuine customer feedback the drivers receive. Only when you find someone you’re truly happy with should you book your travel.

Of course, we do always appreciate all the feedback we receive, and the drivers take it onboard – the negative as well as the positive – to try to improve the service they offer.

But most of all, we hope you’ll find that, to them, this isn’t ‘just another job’. We’re all doing our best to provide a real alternative service to that offered by the airlines.

Get free quotes from CitizenShipper drivers today.

pet ground travel
Dogs are far more at home in cars than they will ever be in an airplane hold or even the passenger cabin. That means that, by the time they reach their destination after traveling with CitizenShipper, they’ll be really pleased to see you!

2 thoughts on “Why Road Beats Air For Transporting Your Pet

  1. I am interested in more info to transporting my dog and cat from Orange County Laguna Hills to Chicago.

    1. Hi there Tanya. Welcome to the CitizenShipper community! We can find you a transporter for just about anything you have to ship. Let’s get started by getting some quotes for your shipment.

      To get quotes:

      1. Go to the CitizenShipper home page[j1] .

      2. Select your shipment category, then follow the prompts to provide additional details. Be sure to tell us as much about your shipment as possible, including any special requests, considerations, dates, concerns, requirements.

      3. You will be directed to your shipper messaging dashboard, where you’ll find a list of suggested drivers.

      4. Reach out to drivers you are interested in and introduce yourself to start a dialogue about your specific shipping needs.

      You can also find helpful hints on how to fill out the form to attract transporters that best fit your needs here. Two other great CitizenShipper resources include How it Works and Questions About Shipping.

      You can also always email us with any questions or concerns.

      Jump In and Get Shipping!

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