Traveling with Pets: 8 Safety Tips from a Transport Driver

Posted by Jen Siow on

Editor’s Note: In January 2021, Persimmon Peak was renamed Persnickety Pets.

In our very first full interview for The PawPrint Chronicles, we talked with transport pro Deanna Davis! She’s been working with Kentucky Mutts Animal Rescue since 2014 as a board member, Transport Coordinator, and transport driver. Kentucky Mutts Animal Rescue (KMAR) is a 501(c)(3) organization based out of Corbin, KY. They utilize a team of dedicated volunteers and drivers to shuttle dogs from overpopulated rural Kentucky areas to northern cities with an abundance of adoptive homes. 

Persimmon Peak: Deanna Davis shares her top travel safety tips

Deanna with her two dogs, Rhubarb the beagle mix and Neeko the lab mix.

Deanna also happens to be my mom! As such, she is probably the person most responsible for my love of animals. Now that I’m running a pet business and getting more involved with local rescue groups, it was a lot of fun learning more about her work in animal rescue. This week, I hope you also learn a lot as Deanna rounds up all her experience working with a transport rescue to share her top safety tips when traveling with pets.

Safety Tip #1: Have a crate for every animal

“Every animal needs to have its own crate. A crate is the safest way for any pet to travel, period. No front-seat tethers; no animals in laps, especially when traveling on the interstate. Airbags deploy with enough force to easily kill a pet and high speed travel means high speed collisions. A loose pet can become a projectile in the event of an accident, or even run away after a collision. If your pet must ride loose, use a seat belt tether on the backseat.” We like these seat belt tethers for their adjustability and ease! The tether clips directly into the female side of a seat belt buckle.

Persimmon Peak: a look inside a transport van

A look inside a transport van, where kennels await the next round of dogs and cats heading north to forever homes.

Safety Tip #2: Display your pet’s identifying information

“This is especially important when we’re transporting a large number of pets. A typical transport weekend for us is anywhere from 8-20+ dogs and once a month we’ll transport a handful of cats. It’s important to keep all those pets straight as they’re transferred from vehicle to vehicle along the route. Every crate has a tag with the pet’s photo and name, as well as the name of the rescue they’re coming from and the name of the rescue they’re going to. This information is even more important in case something happens to you in an accident; emergency responders and your emergency contacts will be able to handle the pets without your help.” 

Persimmon Peak: dog transport with ID cards on each crate

Every pup has identification info marked on their kennel - even when puppies share a crate. 

These sealable badge holders are an easy way to display your pet’s info and can be quickly zip-tied to your pet’s kennel or carrier. Cut an index card to size, ateach a current photo of your pet, then fill out the card with your pet’s name, your name + contact info, and any medical conditions your pet might have.

Safety Tip #3: Pack extra bedding

“You can never have too much bedding! Accidents happen, especially when you’re transporting a large number of pets at once, or when the pets are nervous. Wet fur and muddy paws after a pit stop quickly make a mess of the crate. Always have extra bedding on hand so you can keep your pets clean and comfortable during a long haul.” 

Persimmon Peak: transport drivers keep lots of bedding on hand

Lots and lots of bedding!

Our favorite place to pick up pet bedding? Yard sales! Old towels and linens that are no longer nice enough for family or guests still make great pet bedding. You can also check local sale boards on apps like Facebook, NextDoor, Craigslist, and OfferUp.

Safety Tip #4: Stock up your cleaning bucket!

“Never leave home without a bucket of cleaning supplies. You will never NOT need cleaning supplies on a road trip. Grab on old mop bucket, feed bucket, or litter pail and stock it up with: disinfecting wipes, hand wipes, paper towels, gloves, cleaning spray (window cleaner or 10% bleach solution), and poop bags. Stash a spare roll of paper towels under the driver’s seat. Lots of pets get nervous when traveling, so just plan for vomit and nervous diarrhea.” If you do a lot of traveling, wholesale clubs like SAM’s and Costco are great places to buy these cleaning supplies in bulk.

Persimmon Peak: What to pack in your cleaning bucket

Safety Tip #5: Keep copies of your pet’s paperwork in the car

“This includes vaccinations records as well as any documentation of medical conditions for you pet. If you’re crossing state lines with animals that aren’t yours (like we do on transport runs), you’ll also need USDA health certificates. Put the paperwork in a page saver or Ziploc bag to protect them from water and stash them somewhere safe.” We keep all our “emergency” documents in the glove box because that’s one of the first spots an emergency worker will check.

Safety Tip #6: Always double-leash dogs

“Always use a slip lead with a lock plus a regular lead attached to your dog’s harness or collar. If dogs get spooked and try to back out of their collar or harness, the slip lead acts as an extra safety measure. Even your personal pet can get spooked in an unfamiliar area and for lots of dogs, getting spooked means they want to run away.” These locking slip leads are a favorite of the crew at KMAR. It doesn’t hurt that they’re affordable, durable, and come in lots of fun colors! 

Persimmon Peak: double-leashing with a locking slip lead

Proper double-leashing ensures no loose dogs in unfamiliar areas.

Safety Tip #7: ICE your phone

“Always make sure your emergency contacts are easy to find on your phone. Let your emergency contacts know your travel plans, which pets you’ll be taking with you, and what they should do with those pets if you’re injured and have to go to the hospital. Most hospitals don’t allow pets inside so someone will need to come pick them up.” 

ICE stands for “In Case of Emergency” and by simply adding these 3 letters in front of your emergency contacts’ names, it will make it much easier for first responders to find and contact the right people. Most smart phones now have more sophisticated ways for your emergency contacts to be accessed - even when your phone is locked. Check out this article to learn how to set up emergency contacts to display on your Android or iPhone lock screen.

Safety Tip #8: Always keep a spare key on your person

“It’s happened to me before and I see it all the time. In the hustle and bustle of moving pets from one car to another (or just getting my pets out for a potty break) an excited dog locks me out of my van! I always keep a spare van key on my person, tucked into a zippered pocket if possible.”

Persimmon Peak: KMAR transport driver Deanna with puppy Dart

Deanna gets kisses from puppy, Dart, whose rescue and transport was life-saving. At just a few weeks old, Dart’s jaw was broken by his abusive owners so KMAR stepped in to get him to critical care. Dart is now happy and healthy!

If you’re gearing up to travel with your pets, keeping these safety tips in mind will help ensure everyone has a good experience! All set on the safety tips, but not sure what to pack for a trip with your dog? Download our handy checklist here.

Persimmon Peak: what to pack for a trip with your dog

🐾  Are you curious about getting involved with a transport rescue like KMAR? You can reach Deanna with any questions at: deannadavis538@gmail

Persimmon Peak: my mom, Deanna, and me!

BIG thanks to my mom, Deanna, for letting me interview her for The PawPrint Chronicles!


adoptions cats Dogs pets rescue safety tips transport driver transport rescue traveling with pets

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  • This is such a insightful and helpful post. You’ve included some great guide here.

    Annabelle Nguyen on
  • A very useful post with the quick tips. You really focus on the very important subject. on
  • Thank you for the insight . A lot of new information that could help me.

    Jeremy on
  • All great tips! I had tethered – I thought – a rescue Lab in the backseat, but I did not double check before opening the back door. Bad plan! She had not wanted to leave her foster mom that morning and had never settled in the backseat. When I cracked the back door she jumped, knocking me down. Even though she still had a leash on, she was not to be caught. A full search was made, but she wasn’t caught until the next morning when her foster mom came and took her home. ALWAYS be sure your pet is secure before opening any door


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