Happy Tails Alerts

  • COVID-19 Travel Impacts

    Updated June 5th, 2020:

    Due to limited flights and increased demand for ground travel, we require at least 2 - 3 weeks from the date a signed contract is received to when your pet can travel.

    Domestic and International airlines continue to offer extremely limited options for pet travel in response to the Coronavirus. At this time there is no set date when air pet shipment will resume as usual. As such, Happy Tails Travel is only able to offer ground transportation services within the contiguous U.S. at this time.

    No flights -small     

    We at Happy Tails Travel, Inc. are closely following the Coronavirus updates across the country and around the world to be sure that your pets and their travel plans are taken care of appropriately.  If you are traveling with us via our By Ground Safe & Sound program, all routes are continuing as scheduled and currently have no delays. 

    Due to the limitations on domestic flights that accommodate pets, we can offer our By Ground Safe & Sound program as an alternative, which is subject to pricing based on the distance and mileage.  An advantage to our By Ground Safe & Sound program is that it limits your pets’ exposure to many factors including other humans and pets and could be a safer alternative to air travel during this uncertain time. 

    If you are not yet a client and need assistance with your pets' travel plans, please fill out our Pet Travel Form for more information.

    We appreciate our loyal clients, employees, and all of our furry friends.  We wish for everyone to be safe and healthy!

    To read a recent client testimonial and her excellent experience with us during the Covid-19 outbreak, click here


Popeye is really enjoying himself. He just looks very happy and comfortable being an island dog. The first day he was here we went to the beach and if he could talk I would bet he way saying “THIS PLACE IS SO COOL! THANK YOU FOR BRINGING ME HERE!!!” You helped make his trip very stress free and easy. I really appreciated the constant updates, immediately responses and hard work on your end. I felt confident the trip was going to be easy from day one having you on the case. Thank you so much for everything. You and your team really do a great job for people and pets that need help. 

-Anthony and Popeye
Sarasota, FL to Kailua, HI


Happy Tails did an excellent job transporting my high anxiety dog from California to Oregon as part of our family move.  Every detail was meticulously seen to, and the driver, Mia, went above and beyond to ensure that Little Joe was safe, happy and loved throughout the journey.  She was delayed due to weather, but communicated frequently and sent pictures to set my mind at ease that he was safe and comfortable and well cared for.  I highly recommend this service as a way to get your pet to its new home.

Betsey S. & Joe
Oakland, CA - Portland, OR

Hodges 2 (2)Hodges 1 (2)

The kitties are happy in their new private room and get lots of lovin’ from all of us, especially our little grandkids. Here is a pic of Smokey Lonesome and one of beautiful Bianca- she’s winking and trying to tell you she had a fabulous trip from KY to NH! Oliver was bring camera shy.  Thank you so much for the great service you provided. It was a huge relief to have the cats taken care of so well. We certainly will use your services again if needed, and of course will recommend Happy Tails!

Thanks again,
Karen H.
Lexington, Kentucky - Bradford, New Hampshire

Bohemian Rhapsody  Jumping Jack Flash (3)

Hi Bridget, thank you for the incredible amount of work you and your staff have done towards making the shipping of the two pups to Europe a reality. Now they are gaining weight and enjoying their new home. I have heard from Linda who says how thoroughly pleased she is with the soundness, temperament and quality of the two pups.Thank you again for seeing this through from initial contact to a satisfactory ending for all.

Phyllis Lockwood, Willowrun Great Danes
Clarendon NC to Frankfurt Germany

Kaya (2)

Happy Tails Travel was such a huge peace of mind for me during this pretty stressful move. Kaya arrived in Glasgow with no problems, and was so happy to be reunited with us. They answered dozens of questions to ease my anxious mind and made this process so much easier on me.I can't thank you enough! 

We are settling in nicely, and Kaya LOVES her new home and exploring all the beautiful scenery every day! 

Thanks again for all your help,

Mystie and Kaya
Houston, Texas - Aberdeen, Scotland 


Circe is settling in well in our new home thanks to Happy Tails Travel, Inc. They handled everything and guided me every step of the way. It was a very seamless and stress-free process. I was especially concerned because she's 19-years-old and was traveling from Chicago to Seattle, but Happy Tails got her to me safely.

Thank you so much Happy Tails Travel & Kim!

Kenyatta B.
Chicago, IL - Seattle, WA

My family and I were moving to LA and so we needed to fly our labradoodle, Emma. We were moving from Miami and with all the temperature restrictions for flying pets in hot temperatures, we knew that it would be tricky. The folks at Happy Tails were great! They booked Emma on a flight and kept us updated on the temperatures. At the last minute, the temperature soared past 85 degrees and the airport folks wouldn't let Emma on the flight. There were no other flights out in the next 24 hours and my family and I were scheduled on our own flights early the next morning. We were freaking out! Kim, at Happy Trails organized for Emma to be picked up in Miami and driven to Orlando, where she found a flight leaving very early in the morning for LA. She saved us a ton of aggravation! And now Emma is a California dog;) Thanks, Happy Tails!

Diane M. & Emma
Miami, FL - Los Angeles, CA

Moose (2)

Our return was a breeze and we settled back into our home life quickly. Pamela was a huge help and made our departure and return so pleasant - thank you again for recommending her to us! The whole process with Happy Tails Travel was so easy on my end and made our travels stress-free. Both times I picked up Moose from the flights he was safe and sound with his tail wagging. I can’t tell you how thankful I am that he was safe and happy throughout our travels. It means the world. 

Thank you so much for everything you did to help us, we are so appreciative. We will not hesitate to use you guys again for any future travels!

Gabi M. & Moose
Round-trip from Seattle, Washington to Newark, NJ

Airline Travel Crates – How do I know which one is best for my pet?

By: Bridget Monrad, R.N. | Apr 24, 2015

When traveling by air, your pet must travel in a carrier that is acceptable & meets the guidelines of the airline, as they have strict live animal safety rules set forth by IATA and the USDA.  This pet crate/container must not only meet airline regulations, but it must properly fit your dog or cat, to avoid the risk of being turned away for their flight at check-in.  This blog will shed light on the most important aspects of selecting the proper size and brand of crate for your furry family member! Here we will focus on cats & dogs. Other animals require specific shipping containers based on their species such as birds and reptiles. Below is further information on these types of live animals.

Why does my pet need one?

Your pet needs a crate when traveling by any aircraft to ensure safety and containment so they don’t move about. The same principle applies to human passengers fastening their seatbelts in the cabin. Their crate serves as their temporary home while in transit, so they need a familiar setting.  It also helps protect them from their surroundings while flying.  Making sure your dog or cat’s crate meets airline and IATA requirements is key to ensuring they have a safe and pleasant journey.

What do they look like?

Airline approved crates are made out of hard plastic material.  The metal, wire crates are not suitable for travel.  These crates must meet IATA guidelines and have the following requirements:

  • The floor must be solid and leak proof
  • The container door must have a secure, spring loaded, all around locking system
  • The crate must be ventilated on at least 3 sides for domestic flights and on all 4 sides for international flights or with snub nose breeds
  • No wheels
  • No plastic door
  • No top door
  • Not collapsible
  • Metal blots (which may be covered in plastic) must be used to secure the various pieces of the crate together
  • Crates also need to have Live Animal Stickers on 3 sides. Happy Tails Travel is glad to provide these to clients in their Pet Travel Packet, or you can also get them from the airline check-in counter.

Here is a picture of a typical airline approved carrier: 


Is there a difference between cabin and cargo crates?

The above description meets the IATA airline requirements for pets traveling as cargo, or in the part of the plane where animals are kept.  Smaller animals (very small dogs and cats) can sometimes travel in the cabin under the seat in front of you if the plane has adequate room and can accommodate live animals.  Cabin carriers are slightly different than cargo crates as they have to be quite small to comply with the tight space available under plane seat.  

Cabin carriers must still be approved but can be hard-sided or soft-sided. The kennel must fit completely under the seat in front of you and remain there at all times; your pet is not allowed to come out of its kennel for any reason during the flight. The animal must be able to stand up and turn around comfortably.  

The maximum dimensions for hard-sided kennels are 17.5 inches long x 12 inches wide x 7.5 inches high (44 cm x 30 cm x 19 cm). The recommended maximum dimensions for soft-sided kennels are 18 inches long x 11 inches wide x 11 inches high (46 cm x 28 cm x 28 cm). Soft-sided pet carriers may exceed these dimensions slightly, as they are collapsible and able to conform to under-seat space without blocking the aisle. 

How do I know what the right size crate is for my pet?

The crate must be large enough for your pet to stand, turn around, and lie down without restriction.  Each animal must have at least 2-3 inches clearance from the top of their ears or head (whichever is higher) to the roof of the kennel for domestic flights, and at least 3-4 inches of clearance for international flights. 

Happy Tails Travel provides all clients with detailed instructions on how to measure each of your pets to ensure that you get a kennel that is the best fit for them.  The key is measuring your pet, and taking the following dimensions: length of animal from nose to root of tail; height from ground to elbow joint; width across shoulders; height of animal in standing position (top of head for pets with non-erect ears - from tip of ears for pets with erect ears. 

There is a formula to combine these dimensions in order to determine what size crate your pet requires while traveling.  Please keep in mind for international travel, your pets will require one size larger then they typically would need for domestic flights as they will be in there for longer periods of time and will need more space for their comfort this is for their comfort during the longer flight duration.

Can I rent a crate?

Unfortunately crates cannot be rented.  The crate is your pet’s safe place while they travel and you want them to be as familiar with it as possible. Crates should be purchased as far in advance as possible so your pet has time to acclimate to the crate and see it as a “home” or “safe place”.  If you are unable to find a crate on your own, we at Happy Tails Travel would be more than happy to assist you in purchasing the crate that is best suited for your pet family member.

What can go in my pet’s crate with them?

Items in your pet’s kennel should be kept to a minimum.  They should have 2 specialized crate bowls that are able to attach to the crate door and be reached without needing to open the crate. One of the cups should be filled with about 3/4 of the way with water and be frozen overnight before the flight. The other cup should remain in the crate for use of dry food feeding in case of an unexpected or delayed layover.

A waterproof, or sheepskin type material custom fit crate pad is also ideal for your pets comfort and to encourage them to sleep once the plane is airborne.  It is required to have absorbent material.  You can also put a towel or small blanket with a familiar scent (theirs or your own) to make them more at ease and give them something familiar to travel with.  Pet clothing, leashes and toys are strictly prohibited from being in the crate with your pet while they travel as it can be a safety risk.

Special Considerations

Snub nose breeds have special requirements as they are more prone to health concerns while flying.  These breeds include, but are not limited to: American Staffordshire Terrier, American Pit Bill Terrier, Boston Terriers, Boxes, Brussels Griffin, Pug, Chow Chow, English Toy Spaniel, Lhasa Apso, Mastiff, Pekinese, Shar Pei, Shih Tzu, and Tibetan Spaniel.

Snub nose breeds typically cannot fly if the temperature is above 75 degrees at any location on their travel itinerary.  They also must have at least 3 inches of clearance from the top of their ears or head (whichever is taller) and the top of the kennel. Their crates must be ventilated on all 4 sides, regardless of whether it is domestic or international travel.  Also snub nose breeds must travel in a crate size larger than what their measurements suggest in order to give them extra space.   As long as you follow these instructions and your vet clears your pet for flight, they will be in good hands.

Another consideration are breeds that are listed as “dangerous”.  While at Happy Tails Travel we love each and every pet regardless of breed, unfortunately certain breeds have stigmas that make traveling more difficult.  These breeds include American Staffordshire Terriers, Rottweilers, Doberman Pinchers, Ca de Bous, Cane Corsos, Dogo Argentinos, Fila Brasileirso, Perro de Presa Canarios, Pit Bull Terriers, Presa Canarios, and Tosas.

Each airline has different requirements regarding breeds, so we will do our best to find an airline that accepts your pet as they would any other breed.  However, the most common requirement for travel if your pet is listed as a “dangerous” breed is that they must travel in a custom crate, referred to as a “Container 82.” 

These crates must be custom built and can add upwards of 100 pounds on the total weight of your pet for travel, so they can be quite pricey.  If you or someone you know is handy, these crates can be built at home or at Happy Tails Travel has specialized pet companies we work with in order to get these crates built to make sure they fit your pet perfectly.  Custom built crates must be constructed of wood, metal, synthetic materials, weld mesh or wire mesh. Additional design principles regarding frame, sides, floor, roof and doors also apply. No portion of the crate may be plastic. The crate door must be made of heavy wire mesh, metal or reinforced wood and should have a secure means of fastening that cannot be opened accidentally.

Red flags that it is not the right crate

Please pay attention to these easy to read signs that the crate you have is not appropriate for your furry family member:

  • The crate looks cheap and flimsy
  • The crate is damaged; missing bolts, cracks in the plastic, door not working correctly
  • The crate has wheels
  • The crate door is plastic
  • The crate is made out of wire or collapsible material
  • The crate does not fasten shut completely
  • The crate only fastens shut with plastic bolts
  • Your pet’s movements are restricted – they are not able to sit, stand, or turn around comfortably
  • There is not at least 2 – 3 inches of clearance between your pet’s head or ears (whichever is higher) and the top of the crate


While there are many requirements, these are simply to ensure your pet stays safe and comfortable while traveling.  At Happy Tails Travel we are here to help ship your pet by Air with Care! If you have any questions or concerns please do not hesitate to visit our website or give us a call at 1-800-323-1718 or 520-299-3315 for assistance in selecting the appropriate crate for your VIP furry family member!


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