Wednesday, February 3, 2016

How We Ship our Cockapoo Puppies

I am a licensed Cockapoo breeder so I am able to ship my puppies to families living throughout the United States. Quite often I have families from out of state adopt puppies from me and sometimes they are so far away that shipping them via airplane is the only option. Some people are totally fine about having their puppy travel this way while other people get really nervous about it so I thought I'd write this post to help answer some common questions and better explain the shipping process.

When I ship a puppy they need to be a minimum of 8 weeks old, that is the legal age that they can fly, and I plan their trip on the date they are old enough. I prefer to ship out of Appleton, Wisconsin, it is a little over an hour away from us, but if necessary we can also ship out of Green Bay, WI and as a last resort Milwaukee, WI. Out of our local airports we can use Delta Airlines or American or if shipping out of Milwaukee we can use Delta, American, or United.

When someone calls me about the cost of shipping a puppy I give them a standard price that includes the cost of the flight, crate, and health certificate. The crate that the puppy comes home with is a travel crate only, it is not to be used for training purposes. A health certificate is required to ship a puppy and I take care of that when the puppy is examined by my vet.

Depending on which airline I use flights can be arranged between 10-30 days in advance. United allows bookings to be made up to 30 days in advance but no later than 5 days in advance, Delta requires bookings to be made 13 days in advance, and American allows bookings to be made 10 days in advance. When a puppy is reserved I will look up a flight schedule with the possible airlines and will call as soon as I can to arrange the flight and then email the details over to the receiving family. I am very picky about how long a puppy is traveling so I always aim to get the shortest flight that I can. Unless you are receiving your puppy in a city that is a layover destination like Detroit, Minneapolis, or Atlanta they will have a flight with a layover, the only direct flights out of Appleton are in the cities I just mentioned. Unless your puppy is traveling late at night and there is a time/date change, your puppy will arrive the same day that they leave.

When arranging a flight I ask that the receiving family give me two International Airport options to choose from and I will try to book the flight for the airport that they prefer, but will ultimately choose the one with the shortest flight option that meets the restrictions of the airline that I am using. Some airports are too small and do not take pets so I always ask for larger International airport options to ship to. 

Once the flight is booked I will email the receiving family the flight details, directions on where to pick up the puppy, and also a tracking # so that they can watch the flight status online. I ask that all families who are having their puppies shipped keep a free schedule for the day that they are receiving their puppy, be open to traveling to an airport a little farther away if necessary, and realize that their puppy may be arriving later at night if I have to avoid warm temperatures or make travel changes.

All of the airlines have a lot of rules for shipping a puppy and not all of them are the same! Often times I've had families look up flight schedules online and question why I am not using one flight versus another and, trust me, it's not that simple! Not every flight you see posted online is 'pet friendly,' some planes are not equipped for pet travel, some flights have layovers that are too short, etc. All three airlines mentioned require that pets be checked in 2 hours in advance for flights.  When shipping I have to allow time to drive to the airport, wait in line, do the actual check in paperwork, and have everything done before that two hour mark. Delta has it set up so that if you arrive late, or the attendant is slow or makes mistakes, and you don't have the puppy checked in by that 2 hour mark they will lock you out of the system and deny the flight! The Delta desk in Appleton does not open until 4:30 a.m. so with their 2 hour check in rule it limits the use of early morning flights that they may have available, for example I cannot book a puppy onto a 5:30am flight because the desk is not open 2 hour in advance for me to get them checked in on time. There is a lot more involved in the process so that's why I always tell people to let me handle the research on the flights.

Delta Rules:
It has to be between 20-80 degrees to ship a puppy and the flight has to have a minimum of a 2 hour layover. Puppies need to be checked in at least 2 hours in advance. No double connections.
Flights can be booked 13 days in advance.

United Airlines:
They do not have temperature restrictions but puppies are not able to fly on planes operated by Air Wisconsin. Puppies need to be checked in at least 2 hours in advance. No double connections.
Flights can be booked 30 days in advance and no later than 5 days in advance.

I can only use United Airlines when shipping from Milwaukee, WI.

 American Airlines:
It has to be between 45-85 degrees to ship a puppy. Puppies need to be checked in at least 2 hours in advance. No double connections.
Flights can be booked 10 days in advance.

On the day of the flight I have to arrive 2.5 to 3 hours early to the airport to check in the puppy, fill out the paperwork, and pay for their plane ticket. After the puppies are all checked in and the paperwork is done I then email the family to let them know their puppy is checked in and ready to go. If there is ever a delay or cancellation I keep in touch with the receiving family so everyone knows when to expect their puppy. All of the airlines are really good about shipping puppies but occasionally there will be a flight change, delay, or cancellation and I just ask the family to stay in touch with me throughout the day and check their emails. All of the airlines also have a really nice option on their websites where you can track the flights and check on status of your puppy the entire time that they are traveling.
   (This little boy was getting snuggled by a Delta employee while we were checking him in!)

Because of all of the above I ask that everyone keep a free schedule on the day they are receiving their puppy just in case there are temperature issues or changes in flights. I realize it may not be the most convenient to pick up a puppy late at night  or at a different location but sometimes I don't have a choice if it is too hot or too cold- the weather and flight changes are the two major things I cannot control in this process. Just to clarify: the temperature restrictions are set up because the airline does not want to expose your pet to extreme hot or cold while they are being transported from the plane to the airport. While traveling inside the plane they are always in an area where it is either heated or cooled depending on the season.

When a family picks up their puppy at the airport everything will be prepaid by me, they will simply have to show their I.D., sign some paperwork and take their puppy home. The puppy will arrive to them in their travel crate and there will be an envelope attached to the top of that crate that contains all of the necessary paperwork including a copy of their health guarantee and the puppy's health records, etc. I greatly appreciate it when they notify me that they have received their puppy as I do watch their flight status online to be sure everything is going o.k.

For families living in Canada the airlines no longer offer shipping puppies to Canadian Airports. I realize this is inconvenient, but we have found a solution, and that requires anyone living in Canada to pick their puppy up at the nearest U.S. airport and drive them across the border. It is totally legal, we do it all the time, and the only additional requirement is an International Health Certificate which you will need when crossing the border. So, if you live in Canada and are willing to drive a bit, please do not hesitate to contact me about getting a puppy.

Quite often I have families ask me if it is traumatic or dangerous to ship a puppy. Honestly, it can be a long day, but I do not think that it is dangerous or something to get really nervous about. I am picky about the flights I choose, I will not ship in dangerous weather, and I will not ship a puppy if I do not feel they are ready for it. Over and over again I have had families who have had their puppies shipped contact me and tell me that they were way more nervous about it than they should have been and that the entire process was much easier than they had thought it would be.
If you live far away from us and are nervous about shipping a puppy you may want to consider flying here to pick up your puppy. We have had several families fly to Wisconsin, pick up their puppy, and fly home with them. When traveling with a puppy they are allowed to ride in the passenger area of the plane with you but must be placed in a crate below the seat in front of you. I personally have done both, I have had purchased puppies shipped to me and I have also flown out of state to pick up and take back a puppy home with me, either way works out fine but I personally prefer to have them shipped to me.

I hope this helps better explain things and if you have any additional questions about shipping a puppy please contact me.