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Doggy style holidays: Pet vacations

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By James Stone


For many years, the idea of dogs being man's best friend has been conveniently overlooked during two weeks over the summer, when he is to be sent off to languish in a kennel while his owners lounge on a far away beach or enjoy a city break.


However, taking the family pet on holiday is now becoming increasingly popular and not just on weekend-long camping trips to, say, Berkshire.

Rather, the introduction of "pet passports", complete with photographs, dogs and cats are now able to travel freely throughout the European Union without the need of a six month stay in quarantine at the end of their holidays.

Not surprisingly, the travel industry has long since picked up on the trend and moved to make their four-legged guests just as welcome as the human variety.

Within the UK, finding a bed and breakfast or hotel that will be happy to accommodate a hound and American-style excesses are now only a click away on the internet, with hotels offering miniature beds and specialised canine menus- either giving the pets the attention and luxury they deserve or else taking advantage of holidaymakers with more sentimentality and money than sense.

However, it is the holidaying overseas that has truly taken off in recent years.

The introduction of pet passports may well have been the most noticeable, but subtler changes have taken place within the travel industry which would never have been thought possible just a few years ago.

It is no trouble at all to enjoy a walking holiday in Spain or Norway with your dog now that most of the leading ferry operators are only too happy to take them on board, while it looks likely that the situation in America, where small dogs can be carried onto a plane in much the same way as hand luggage will find its way over to Europe in the not-too-distant future.

According to the self-styled 'Dog Whisperer' Caesar Millan, taking a dog on a plane is far better for them than leaving them behind with strangers in kennels.

Speaking to the New York Times recently, he claimed that he often took his dogs on flights with him.

"Of course they're going to feel the altitude, and so I'm going to be right their to calm them down," he said.

The only thing holding back the emergence of a whole new generation of jet-setting pets is the carelessness of the airlines, it would seem.

Pets have become to airline just like over-size luggage, an inconvenience but one that will they will be only too happy to carry should the price be right.

Unfortunately, this attitude has been reflected in the damage done to pets in transit.

The US Department of Transportation reported that 12 pets were killed, three were injured and four somehow disappeared completely during June, July and August of last year.

While this may seem an incredibly small number given that two million pets and other live animals were carried by US airlines during 2006, those owners who consider their pets to be 'a part of the family' may want to reconsider their holiday plans and gamble only on the British weather on a camping trip close to home.

 

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