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Pets are a big priority for many travel nurses, and it’s easy to see why. Bringing our furry friends on the road means we have company for the long drives and instant friendship once we arrive at new destinations. But while dogs are the most common travel companions, what about less common pets? We’ve helped our nurses travel with ferrets, sugar gliders, birds, snakes, rats, hamsters, guinea pigs and even horses! Read below for some tips on traveling with more unusual animals.
1. Do Your Research
The biggest key to traveling with any pet is being prepared. In the case of an unusual pet, this is especially important as some areas have restrictions on which animals can be brought into the city or state. While a reptile or a rodent in a small cage may not seem like a big deal to bring along, you will have to pay some steep consequences if you are caught with an animal where it violates a health ordinance. Travelers must do their homework to make sure their animals are welcome in the areas to which they are traveling and the living spaces they are renting.
Some animals are easier to house than others. Small animals in cages are among the easiest, as well as cats. Fish can be more difficult, as many apartment complexes have rules against large aquariums. Though it is rare, some travelers do choose to bring their horses along. Travelers with horses are responsible for finding their own stables and care, as we are not equipped to do so. Also, it’s important to note that we cannot house any animals used for breeding, no matter the size.
2. Be Upfront with Your Recruiter
Another best practice for the parent of an unusual pet is to let your recruiter know early in your job search which animals you want to bring along on your assignment. Your experienced recruiter can use their knowledge, plus consult the housing department, to guide you toward assignments in locations where you and your animal will be welcome. Plus, by seeking the advice of a housing specialist early in the process, you can be spared the heartbreak of discovering an assignment you love, then finding out there are no housing options in the area for your unusual pet.
3. Make Sure to Disclose Everything to Your Housing Specialist
Because some unusual pets are small and quiet, it may be tempting to try to “fly under the radar.” But our housing department strongly recommends against this, as it can lead to big problems during your assignment. It’s best to let your housing specialist know exactly which pets you plan to bring on your assignment so they can check for restrictions in the lease you’ll be signing or the agency will be signing on your behalf. Just imagine if apartment managers or maintenance workers entered your apartment without notice and discovered your undisclosed pet. You could be hit with heavy fines for keeping your pet a secret or in the worst case scenario, asked to leave.
4. Be Aware of Existing Restrictions
TNAA has a few specific restrictions that we make clear to all travelers interested in traveling with pets. Most often discussed are the aggressive breeds of dogs we cannot house, Pit Bull Terrier, American Staffordshire Terrier and Rottweiler. Unfortunately, too many areas of the country and too many rental properties have rules against these breeds and we must enforce this rule without exception. While those are the only breeds we have restrictions against, some other extra-large breeds can be difficult to house. Some major metropolitan areas and the housing available there are unsuitable for large dogs.
We also impose a limit of two pets per traveler for most animals, like dogs, cats and birds. Travelers are asked to exercise common sense and must abide by all apartment complex rules when it comes to small animals like fish and reptiles.
If you’re thinking of traveling to Hawaii, plan to leave all pets at home with a trusted caregiver. This state does not allow the entry of most domestic animals and the process to bring a dog is so intricate and poses such a risk to the safety of the pet that we do not allow our travelers to attempt it.
Preparation is Key
While some pets, either due to the type of animal or the number, just won’t be practical to bring along on a travel assignment, many are fairly easy to accommodate with the right amount of preparation. Make sure to do your research on any pet restrictions in the areas to which you’re interested in traveling and keep an open line of communication with your housing specialist, and you’ll find the assignment – and living space – that’s right for you and your pets!