National Pet Fire Safety Day

With July being the heart of the summer, outdoor dry conditions sparking wildfires, and much of the country in the midst of summer heat it is a good time to reflect upon fire safety for our pets as well. July 15th also marked the celebration of National Pet Fire Safety Day and we received a most informative and useful resource from Emma Bailey that she posted on Security Systems Houston’s web site.  As a writer and a pet parent, Emma put together a big list of pet fire safety tips and information that we all can all benefit from. As Emma remarked, “Considering summer’s heightened risk for fire hazards, I thought this resource would be a very helpful addition to your site,” and indeed it is!

An adorable 8 month old baby girl is bundled up in a sweater and wearing a winter earflap hat looking lovinlgy at her pet German Shepherd dog as they sit and laugh ouside on a cold fall day.

For the seventh year running, the United States is set to observe National Pet Fire Safety Day on the 15th of July. This commemorative event was started by the American Kennel Club to help protect beloved furry family members from dangerous fire-related incidences.

Active, curious pets can cause trouble for you and your family (and themselves too) if they aren’t supervised. Just a few smart precautions can make a world of difference in terms of potential safety hazards. This year, we’ve highlighted the most important tips and tricks you can use as a pet owner to make sure your four-legged family members stay far away from smoke and fire.

Check, Check and Double-Check

  • Check up on smoke and carbon monoxide detectors twice a year to ensure they are working properly. Place smoke detectors outside every room in the home. Curious pets can accidentally start fires on their own, so consider installing monitored smoke detectors to help firefighters quickly respond to a house fire even if you’re not there.
  • Check around your home for fire hazards like loose wires and stove knobs, discarded paper products, and other flammable junk. Outside, clear dry brush away from the house and keep pet pens away from any dry leaves or vegetation that could easily become fuel in a fire.
  • If your pet can stand up tall enough to reach the counter, place kitchen appliances up high and remove stove knobs whenever you leave home. If your animal can get to cords and electrical wires easily, they may be tempted to give them a good chew – make sure those are out of sight and out of mind too.

When In Doubt, Put It Out!

  • Cats and dogs are attracted to light and motion – including open flames from candles and fireplaces. Make sure to keep an eye out on your pets whenever there is an open flame in the room and extinguish it when you leave. If you must leave the flame on without your supervision, get your pets to a different room and make sure they can’t get to it.
  • Use flameless candles whenever possible. They may be less romantic and aromatic than regular candles, but they are battery-operated and therefore less likely to start a fire if knocked over onto carpet or fabric.

Protect Youngsters and Outdoor Pets

  • Small pets and puppies and kittens can get through very tiny openings, so make sure your pet is in a secure place if you are unable to keep your eye on them at all times. Young pets are notorious troublemakers – keeping them in a crate or pen will reduce the likelihood of their setting the house ablaze while you’re away running errands.
  • Outdoor pets should be given special attention too. If they run away from your yard during a fire, it’s important that they have some form of identification, either in the form of a collar or a microchip.

Shop for Fire-Stoppers

  • Purchase a pet alert window cling from a pet store or get a free one online from the ASPCA. These stickers tell firefighters how many pets are inside the home, and help remind them to make sure everyone has made it out okay.
  • Already popular with some pet lovers, a home security “pet cam” allows you to monitor your animals while you’re gone at work or on a brief vacation. Pet monitoring systems are becoming more and more sophisticated, and can now alert the proper authorities if a fire starts.

Emergency Rescue Plans

  • Your family evacuation plan should include instructions for the animals as well. Decide in advance who will be responsible for each pet if a fire breaks out. One handy tip is to store your pets’ leashes, treats, extra toys and some food inside a washtub near an exit. This keeps it all handy in one place and, if you have to evacuate because of fire, you won’t be caught empty-handed for Fluffy or Fido. Always evacuate your pets on a leash or in a carrier. They will likely panic at the smell of smoke and loud noises, and if they take off without you they may be impossible to find.
  • If your pet is kenneled while you’re away, make sure that the kennel is in an easy to find location in the home. Know your pet’s preferred hiding spots, they may run and hide there if your home has caught fire. Put their cubbyholes on a map of your own escape route.

According to the National Volunteer Fire Council, approximately half a million pets each year are affected by fires in the home. Do your part as a pet parent to protect your beloved animals from the dangers of smoke inhalation and flames!

Celebrate National Pet Fire Safety Day this year on July 15th, and visit the ASPCA websitefor more information about how to keep your pets safe all year round.

Easy, Healthy DIY Dog Food

What’s for dinner tonight? Do you ever wonder if your dog gets bored from eating the same food for every meal, every day, every year? Now, there is a great way to mix up dinner delights for your dog and offer alternative, healthy, and easy meals made in the slow cooker by simply adding leftovers. Breeder Retriever, a resource to research your favorite dog breeds has created an infographic that many pet parents may find interesting. It’s an easy-fun guide to creating dog food in the slow cooker with whatever is leftover in your fridge. By following the proper nutritional guidelines you can turn your fridge into the ultimate doggie bag! This also offers a helpful solution to meal time planning when traveling or overseas. Sometimes your pet’s regular food and brand may not be readily or consistently available. This way you know for certain where your pet’s food is coming from and is of freshest and healthiest ingredients.

Infographic Courtesy of:

New Pet Pre-Alert Required at Geneva Airport

There is a new requirement when traveling with your pet to Switzerland. Starting January 1, 2016, pre-alert advance notification is now required before your pet can enter the country. Notification is by the pet guardian or appointed local agent, if the guardian is not available, by the shipper. The Station hours are 08:00-16:30 for individual pet owners and 08:00-17:00 for agents. We recommend you do not have your pets travel with arrivals on Friday unless you are sure of the correct paperwork. It is important to remember that no imports are possible on weekends and holidays. If you have any questions regarding import, contact us as soon as possible and we will be able to assist you. It is imperative that you plan ahead and do not leave this important part of your pet’s travel planning to the last minute.

How to submit your pet’s pre-alert notification: 

There are 2 ways available to submit your pre-alert advance notification courtesy of our colleagues based in Switzerland, REX Handling:

Notification by online form

If you do not have a computer or access to the Internet, you can submit your pre-alert, by pdf form:

Notification by pdf form

All Aboard Virgin Trains Paws + People

Virgin Trains offer some great opportunities for traveling and seeing the United Kingdom along with your pet. Hop aboard and let the journey begin to some great places such as London, Edinburgh, Glasgow, York, Inverness, and Harrogate. According to Virgin, “Up to two dogs, cats or other small domestic animals can jump, hop and bound on board without having to pay a penny. Good job really, they never carry cash.” However, Virgin adds, “For each additional pet, you’ll have to stick your paw in your pocket. It’s half the adult fare for the type of ticket you’ve got, up to a maximum of £5 for a single and £10 for a return.” If you’re traveling with an assistance dog and need help, you simply call their Assisted Travel team in advance at 03457 225 225 (lines open every day from 8am – 10pm). Virgin Trains welcomes assistance dogs, and well-behaved dogs, on leads to catch forty winks or chill out (with their owners) in our First Class Lounges. For more information visit the web site at the Virgin Website. Be sure to carry your pet’s proper paperwork, pet passport, and fulfill each destination’s pet travel requirements.

Aloha from LAX to HNL








Great news for pets bound for the Hawaiian Islands. This new cargo service is available from Los Angeles (LAX) to Hawaii. Aloha’s unique service moves live animals with the utmost priority and care for transport of your live animals throughout the Islands of Hawaii. According to AlohaAir Cargo, “it doesn’t matter if you’re shipping dogs, cats, tropical fish, pigs, llamas or even a water buffalo. If they can safely and comfortably fit in our planes, consider them our personal VIPs (very important pets) to fly first class all they way to their island destination.”

Aloha Air Cargo has provided live animal and pet shipping for several years in the State of Hawaii. Our services are convenient and open to Hawaii pet owners (relocating or vacationing), breeders, hobbyists, zoos, rescue organizations, and dog show participants.

Your pet will receive royal VIP (Very Important Pet) treatment as Aloha’s valued guests from the time they arrive at the cargo facility to the time they are picked up at destination. The airline prides themselves on taking extra care of your animals and you can be assured it will be first class all the way.

Airport to airport service is available for shippers that drop-off their own animal at the airport and have the receiver pick up at the destination airport. Before being loaded and after arrival, your pet will be kept safe and comfortable in a shaded, covered, well-ventilated area.

For more information on this service please check out AlohaAir’s website.


Life Unleashed Interviewed by CNN

CNNLife Unleashed is pleased to announce that is was selected by CNN’s London news bureau to be interviewed for our pet travel expertise. We were interviewed for the story covering the Johnny Depp incident with his pets and not properly following Australia’s importation protocol for pets. Here is a link to the article in which Life Unleashed contributed – Johnny Depp’s dogs: Pirate chose wrong island to stash Pistol  By Susannah Cullinane, CNN.

(CNN) Johnny Depp may have been a success as swashbuckling Capt. Jack Sparrow but any potential smuggling career of his own has hit a large rock in the shape of Australia. Officials there are showing no mercy after Depp allegedly breached bio-security regulations by flying his two dogs into their country on his private jet, without proper documentation. Yorkshire terriers Boo and Pistol must be taken out of Australia by Saturday morning — or risk being euthanized.

Australia tells Johnny Depp: It’s time your dogs buggered off

It’s all about the planning — as any pirate worth his salt should know — and landing on this particular island requires more than just a map showing where it is. Pet travel experts say that Australia is known for having some of the most stringent biosecurity regulations in the world. The strict laws are to prevent the spread of non-native diseases such as rabies, ehrlichia, leishmania, leptospirosis and internal and external parasites.

Wrong place to smuggle little Treasure

“Australia is definitely the most complicated and strictest place to get a pet to,” Emeleye Bunny manager of UK-based PBS Pet Travel told CNN.

“You have two things that are the first to be done, a rabies injection, a month’s wait after then a blood test to ensure it has been effective,” she said, with the date of the blood sample for pets in the UK needing to be 180 days before travel.

Closer to the travel date, cats and dogs need to have internal and external parasite treatments, blood tests and a government export certificate from Britain’s Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs (Defra). In addition to that, she said, pets needed an import permit from Australia and then 10 days quarantine on arrival.

According to Australia’s Department of Agriculture website, the same conditions apply for pets from the United States.

Tasman Sea neighbor New Zealand shares similarly strict regulations meaning pets can travel between both countries without having to be quarantined. But coming from the United States, Pistol and Boo would have fared little better there.

Between friends

In Europe, it is also easy to move dogs and cats between neighbors, Bunny said.

Citizens of member states can apply for a “pet passport,” used by cats and dogs — and ferrets. Pets must be microchipped to match them to their passport (or in some cases — pirates take note — have a tattoo). They must also have been vaccinated against rabies at least 21 days before travel.

The United States is a common destination and easy to reach for Britons traveling with pets, Bunny said.

“We have regular customers traveling back and forth and then people who are relocating permanently. It’s so straightforward — so it’s something that happens a lot and very regularly,” she said. “When you start getting outside of Europe and the U.S.A. — places like South Africa, Dubai and Hong Hong — you start needing blood tests, vaccinations etc.”

And it seems Depp could just as easily have been caught out in the waters better known to his alter ego Capt. Sparrow.

“Challenging countries are New Zealand, Australia, Japan and some of the Caribbean islands — most of the places that are rabies-free,” Kathleen Gallagher of Life Unleashed pet moving company told CNN.

Life Unleashed offer a chaperone service for pets, but many countries require that animals only enter their territory as manifested cargo — meaning they need to travel with a commercial carrier, she said.

“Even with my fly buddy service there are certain countries you cannot bring a pet into unless it’s manifested cargo,” Gallagher said. “It doesn’t affect just air. Yachts run into that problem too. You can’t just take your dogs off a boat in the Bahamas without proper protocol.”

Good looks don’t cut it

The presence of Depp’s dogs in Australia came to light when the grooming company he took them to posted photos online, but canine good looks and breeding are not enough to circumvent the rules.

The secretary of Britain’s Kennel Club, Caroline Kisko, told CNN there were quite a number of British show dog owners who took them overseas to compete but they tended remain within Europe — often driving in the undersea tunnel between the UK and France known as the “Chunnel”.

“People showing in the UK will show on the continent because it’s simple and straight forward. I think there are very, very few people who would fly their dogs to North America, she said. “Certainly not Australia.”

And flying a pet anywhere abroad is not as straightforward as simply stowing a dachshund under the seat in front for take-off.

While pets tend to travel on normal passenger planes — with or without their owners — they can only do so in a specific cargo area of the aircraft.

“Not all aircraft are suitable,” Bunny said. “The aircraft has to have a specific area that is temperature-controlled and pressurized.”

The International Air Transport Association (IATA) is responsible for regulations governing pet transport, for example the specifications of travel boxes particular breeds needed to be transported in.

Airlines in Britain have agencies to handle cargo at airports, Bunny said. “Trained members of staff ensure everything meets requirements before it’s accepted in for travel.”

Because everything is checked prior to departure, she said the chances of a pet being turned away on arrival are slim.

“When you travel with the airlines you have to meet the country of export’s requirements, country of import’s requirements and the airline’s requirements,” Gallagher said. “[Depp] would have wanted to contact the government before he went, work with a commercial airline — perhaps one of Australia’s airlines — and sent them cargo.”

So had Johnny Depp flown with a commercial airline — or merely tried to send his canine friends off on an unaccompanied seafaring adventure on commercial ship — they would likely have avoided the life and death scenario they face now.

But — alas poor pooches — Capt. Sparrow arrived by private jet.

As the famous Pirate of the Caribbean once said: “The only rules that really matter are these: What a man can do and what a man can’t do.”

Capt. Sparrow just learned what a man can’t do Down Under.

Flying High With the Wings of Rescue

On a recent trip to Santa Barbara, California I was fortunate enough to encounter some great animal rescue groups and facilities. Introduced to Wings of Rescue, I was in awe of their ability and with their mission in all that they do for animals. I learned that Wings of Rescue and Dawg announced the very first Santa Barbara Airlift of 72 dogs from California shelters from the Santa Barbara Airport a few months ago. It turned out that two generous Santa Barbara residents volunteered their flying time and their planes with two other private jets from “Wings of Rescue” to fly these dogs to Idaho, Oregon and Montana where eager adopters awaited their arrival. The flight was a joint effort of DAWG (Dog Adoption Welfare Group), Santa Barbara and Ventura counties shelters.

wingsofrescueWings of Rescue is a nonprofit 501c3 organization that is dedicated to providing the rescue community with efficient air transportation for dogs (and cats too) that would otherwise not be saved in this overly saturated and populated area. They are a network of 20 volunteer pilots that fly these rescued pets to Oregon, Washington, Idaho, Montana and western Canada. On occasion, they also fly to the upper Midwest. Once the animals are pulled from the shelters by local rescue groups, they are flown to designated rescue groups in other states. Wings of Rescue helps give them a second chance at finding a forever home. Impressively, In 3 short years we have helped save 9428 animals from likely death.

In my line of work, so often the use of airlines is solely associated with pet relocation for people with the monetary ability to care for and fly their pets all over the world. However, not all animals are as lucky. That is why this organization provides such a wonderful and meaningful new spin on the concept of relocation. “We fly them home” is their motto. Wings of Rescue is run by pilots, who know how to organize and coordinate each mission. Their expertise helps to understand the factors and details that go into planning a safe, successful flight and use our network of ground volunteers to make loading and delivery as easy as possible for the pilot.

You can watch Wings of Rescue in action. This video highlights the Riverside County Animal Services, Animal Samaritans SPCA and Wings of Rescue as they coordinate the air rescue of more than 50 county shelter dogs from the Coachella Valley Animal Campus in Thousand Palms, California.

Kennel Requirements for Your Pet’s Travel

When it comes to travel, your pet’s crate is the most important component to ensuring a safe and comfortable transportation experience. Our shipping parter United Airlines offers some helpful tips and suggestions when it comes to selecting your pet’s kennel.

One of the most important steps you can take to ease the stress of travel for your pet is to make sure it becomes familiar and acclimated to its crate. Purchase the kennel as far in advance as possible. Veterinarians recommend leaving the kennel door open in the house with treats or a familiar object inside so that your pet may spend time near the kennel and perhaps venture inside on its own. Familiarization with the kennel will allow your pet to feel a sense of security and comfort when traveling alone in an unfamiliar environment. You want your pet to view the crate as a positive experience.

Life Unleashed and United Airlines provides the following advice to all pet guardians preparing their pet to travel and in selection of the crate:

  • Each kennel should contain no more than one adult dog or cat, or no more than two puppies or kittens younger than six months, of comparable size, and under 20 pounds (9 kg) each.
  • Dogs and cats cannot travel together in the same container.
  • The kennel must be constructed of rigid plastic, wood or metal. The roof must be solid with no doors or ventilation openings.
  • The kennel must have ventilation on three sides for travel within the 50 United States and Puerto Rico. The kennel must have ventilation on four sides for travel to and from all other destinations and for snub nosed breeds traveling to any destination.
  • The kennel must be large enough for your pet to freely sit and stand with its head erect, turn around and lie down in a normal position.
  • Your pet’s head or ear tips, whichever is higher, must not touch the top of the crate. If your pet’s kennel does not provide enough room for your pet to stand and sit, without the head touching the top of the container, you will need to purchase a larger kennel before your pet can fly.
  • Many airlines require an additional 3 inches of height clearance when transporting your pet to and from any destination outside the U.S. and Puerto Rico. Short-nosed dogs require a kennel one size larger.
  • The kennel door must be made of metal. Plastic and Fiberglas™ doors, including side plastic latches, are prohibited because they are not strong enough to protect animals during normal handling.
  • All kennel hardware must be secure and in good working condition. A metal nut and bolt must be secured in each hole that is in place to connect the top and bottom of the kennel. Please note that it’s common for kennels to have nuts and bolts that are metal and covered with a plastic coating on the outside, and those are acceptable.
  • Snap-sided kennels or kennels with plastic side latches will not be accepted, unless the shipper drills holes and adds metal nuts and bolts to secure the snap or latch closures.
  • Two dishes (one for food and one for water) must be attached to the inside of the kennel but also be accessible from the outside of the kennel so they can be filled from outside the kennel without opening the door.
  • The door must close securely. In accordance with federal regulations, animals must be accessible in the event of an emergency.
  • Regulations require that any wheels must be locked or otherwise rendered inoperable. Kennel wheels must be either removed or taped to prevent the kennel from rolling in transit.
  • The floor must be solid and leakproof and contain absorbent material, such as shredded black-and-white printed newspaper.

For more in-depth information on kennels and a chart showing the best way to measure your pet please visit the United Airlines web site directly at

Photo Courtesy of United Airlines Web Site

Changes Coming to EU Pet Travel Scheme

logo-city-of-londonMark your calendars. Changes to the pet travel scheme will come into effect on December 29, 2014. If you or your pet are traveling into England or parts of the EU it is important to adhere to these changes and make travel plans accordingly. According to government authorities, the changes are mainly designed to strengthen enforcement across the EU, increase levels of compliance and improve the security and traceability of the pet passport. One important change is that you must travel within 5 days of your pet’s movement. This means that pets MUST enter EU/UK within 5 days before or 5 days after the owners arrival in EU/UK.

A pet shipping colleague from Ireland points out that Ireland’s Department of Agriculture over treats non commercial dogs / cats / ferrets / traveling unaccompanied to be classed as commercial unless the owner travels to Ireland within 5 Days. The owner must prove they are traveling with a copy of a airline ticket or email confirmation from the airline. If the pets is coming from a breeder the animal may not enter Ireland without transiting through Frankfurt or London who have a BIP station (Border inspection post). If the commercial animal arrives into Ireland without transiting through one of the BIP stations it cannot enter Ireland. It won’t  be sent to quarantine but have to be sent back to one of the BIP stations and before it can be sent back to Ireland for entry. This potentially impacts airline options down to Lufthansa or British airways for commercial pets traveling to Ireland.

The main requirements of the scheme will stay the same according to . All dogs, cats and ferrets traveling with their pet guardian will still require:

  • microchipping
  • vaccination against rabies
  • a blood test 30 days after vaccination (if returning or traveling from an unlisted third country) • a pet passport issued by an authorized vet (or third country certificate issued by an official vet)
  •  a waiting period after primary vaccination and prior to travel: 21 days if traveling from another EU country or a listed third country
  • a waiting period following blood sampling: 3 months if traveling from for unlisted third countries • treatment against the EM tapeworm (dogs only)

The key changes affecting pet owners are outlined below:

1. A new pet passport – A new style pet passport will be introduced from 29 December 2014. However if you already have a passport for your pet you do not need to get a new one. Existing passports will remain valid for the lifetime of the pet (or until all the treatment spaces are filled). The new style passport will include laminated strips designed to cover those pages with the pet’s details, microchip information and each rabies vaccination entry.

2. The introduction of checks across the EU – If you travel with your pet in the EU you may be asked for your pet’s passport when entering other countries. This is because all EU countries are required to carry out some checks on pet movements within the EU. You must make sure that your pet is fully compliant with the rules of the EU pet travel scheme before you leave the UK. In particular, you must wait 21 days from the date of your pet’s primary rabies vaccination before you travel (the day of vaccination counts as day 0 not day 1). Your vet can advise you on this point. If you have a new style pet passport they will put a ‘valid from’ date in the primary vaccination entry; this will be the earliest date you can travel. All pets entering Britain on approved routes will continue to be checked by the carriers either prior to boarding (for rail or sea) or upon entry (air).

3. A new minimum age for rabies vaccination From 29 December 2014 – Your pet must be at least 12 weeks old before you can get it vaccinated against rabies for the purposes of pet travel. These rules will be the same across the EU and help pet checkers carry out compliance checks.

4. New rules for those traveling with more than five pets – If you have more than five pets and wish to travel with them within the EU and/or return to the UK (unless you are going to a show or competition) you will need to comply with additional rules.

These include:

• travelling from a registered premises

• using an authorised transporter and

• registering the movement on the TRACES system

If you are traveling from outside the EU you will also need to enter through a Border Inspection Post. Shows and competitions If you are travelling with more than five pets (aged over six months) and can present written evidence that they are registered to attend a show, competition or sporting event (or training for such an event) you do not need to comply with these extra rules and can continue to travel under the EU pet travel scheme. The evidence you provide will need to show at least the name of the event, together with the address and date(s) it is taking place.

5. Requirements for pets entering the UK/EU by air – If you are entering the UK (or another EU country) by air on a flight that began outside the EU it may not be possible for you to physically accompany your pet, for example because it is necessary for your pet to be carried in the hold of the aircraft or you are unable to travel on the same flight. In such cases you will need to sign a declaration confirming that you do not intend to sell or transfer ownership of your pet. You must travel within 5 days of your pet’s movement.

6. Clearer definition of cat, dog and ferret – The new EU Regulation specifically states that the only species of pet animal that can travel under the EU pet travel rules are:

  • Canis lupis familiaris – domestic dog
  • Felis silvestris catus – domestic cat
  • Mustela putorius furo – ferret

For a full overview of the planned changes please visit this link to the EU Pet Passport travel changes.