Pets are like family for many people, but options are limited if you want to take them abroad.
With winter finally behind us, thoughts turn to summer holidays and, if you’re a pet owner like me, what to do with your animals if you’re heading abroad to escape the vagaries of the British weather.
For some it’s as simple as asking a neighbour to pop by and feed the cat, or leaving the dog in a trusted boarding kennel or with a dogsitter. But if your pet is such an important part of the family that you wouldn’t dream of leaving it behind while you have all the fun, or the kennel fees are so extortionate they would cost almost as much as your own holiday, then sometimes it’s preferable to take them with you.
Travelling with pets
If you’re a driver, the ferry is one option – but rules on where your dog stays during the crossing depend on the ferry company. The Eurotunnel is another route. As with the ferries, you have to comply with a host of rules on pet passports, microchips and vaccinations – but at least your dog (and cats, rabbits, ferrets and even some pet birds) can travel in the car with you.
But what if you’re not driving? UK airlines won’t allow pets in the cabin. They can travel in the hold, but that’s the owners’ call. Eurostar is the only train service in the UK that doesn’t let pets on board, apart from guide dogs. When Which? Travel magazine asked why, Eurostar said its stations don’t have the facilities needed to ensure an animal’s safe transit between international borders.
Of course, the safety and comfort of passengers – whether two or four-legged – is paramount, however they’re travelling. But it does seem unfair that non-drivers have so few options.
Time for a new approach?
Personally, I wouldn’t relish the thought of being on a plane with someone’s terrier yapping next to me, or passengers having to squeeze past someone with a crate if there’s an urgent safety issue.
But given that Eurostar already accepts and handles the paperwork for guide dogs, surely this could be extended to all pets? Especially seeing as a journey from London to Paris or Brussels is actually quicker than taking the train to the Lake District or West Country.
Would it hurt if we all loosened our collars a little and tried a new approach?