Getty imagesI asked on Sunday for people’s pet pet-travel peeves, my own being excessive fees for dogs staying in hotel rooms.

The comments I got in response divided into two categories: Those, like mine, that focused on the travel vendors’ (hotel, airlines) practices, and those that focused on being a responsible pet owning traveler. The latter commenters seemed to believe there was a causal relationship with the former, i.e., if people were more responsible about their dogs, hotels and other travel providers would be more accepting of them.

As it happens, GoPetFriendly’s blog today references a new TripAdvisor survey of the top 10 pet friendly hotels in the US that states “Travelers biggest beefs with people traveling with pets included not picking up after their four-legged friends (56%) …” (it’s at the very end of the article). Rod Burkert adds the following commentary:

To the entire pet community I say that this grievance is our biggest hurdle preventing non-pet owners from more openly accepting our animals and is keeping more businesses from going pet friendly.

I respectfully disagree. I think non-pet people will always find a reason for people not to travel with their pets, rational or not. As Mary-Alice Pomputius, my other favorite pet travel expert at, said in her wonderfully grouchy (and I mean that in the best possible way) comment about dogs traveling on airlines:

What gets right UP MY NOSE is the debate over whether dogs should be allowed in-cabin at all — no one actually has any scientific data about the effect pets on planes have on allergy sufferers, so the objections you hear (and they’re often really hateful) are based solely on individual anecdotes, or on the writer’s instinctive belief that pets on planes will cause them, or their mother, or their aunt, terrible trouble. How I wish that someone would fund a real study about the risks (or not) to allergy sufferers posed by in-cabin pets, including a look at measures that could be taken to alleviate any ill effects, like seating a sufferer elsewhere in the cabin.

I think it’s the same with poop. Non-pet people just say that it’s a problem because they don’t like pets.  In my experience as a travel writer — which means walking around the grounds of more hotels in a single week than most people do in a typical year — I have never seen an upscale, pet-friendly hotel that had a poop problem. Never. It’s not only that it’s the most responsible pet owners who tend to travel with their pets because they want to be with them; it’s also that good hotels have a cleaning staff that picks up any stray beer bottles that revelers threw off the balcony of their hotel rooms the night before. As well as dog poop.

My point? I think pet travel vendors are looking to make as much money as they can — and why not? — which means getting the most pet owners to use their hotel/airline/restaurant and charging them as much money as the market will bear for the privilege* with the least complaints from non-pet owners. But at present, there’s little scientific evidence to back up either side’s claims about pet travel, still a new frontier.

*There are very notable exceptions, including all the links in the Loews, Kimpton, and Hotel Indigo chains — just off the top of my head — that have no size limitations and charge little or no extra pet fees. And, as far as I know — having stayed at all three chains and talked to the hotel reps — they have absolutely no poop problems.

11 thoughts on “Friday Focus: Pet travel – the new frontier”

  1. I agree with you Edie, and I LOVE Mary Alice’s comment.

    If allergies are such a HUGE issue then I think all air travelers should be required to not wear perfume and shower with non- scented soap before entering the plane. And, don’t even get me started about kids on planes! And, people sitting next to you who are to big (not fat, necessarily–just big people) for those seats that are about as small as the ones we used in elementary school. There’s a lot of crap we put up with as airline passengers that are FAR more onerous than a little dog traveling in her little travel case.

    1. Yes, I get immediate clogged sinuses/headaches when I encounter people wearing perfume or aftershave, making the entire flight miserable for me. But it would never occur to me to ask the airlines to make it a policy (I do make a request at the gym because working out while wearing perfume is just idiotic — it only makes the sweat smell sickly sweet).

  2. Oh, ho ho … the ALLERGY argument. That makes me RANT too. I got my full rant on when there was a local debate about dogs being allowed on coffee shop outdoor patios because of the possible effect on people with allergies.

    Here is my logic … (and, technically, I am allergy to both dogs and cats) … I am horribly allergic to grass (lots of trees too), BUT you don’t see places outlawing or banning grass on my behalf in public spaces do you?

  3. And Edie, I think I must disagree with your disagreement with me. We meet business owners, park rangers, volunteers at historical cites, etc. every day in our travels. When we ask why they don’t allow pets, their response is almost always “Because people don’t pick up after their pets.”

    1. Fair enough. But you’ve made my point that this is all anecdotal. And it’s possible that there’s a divide between general outdoor sites and hotels that welcome pets, which is what the article on TripAdvisor was about.

      I’m not suggesting that people shouldn’t pick up after their pets. I’m just saying that in the case of hotels, where housekeeping encounters a variety of debris, dog poop is not a key issue — which is why the chains that welcome pets without restriction feel comfortable doing that.

      1. And my point is that the TripAdvisor comment extends to other businesses and outdoor activities besides hotels. What good is it to be able to bring your dog to a pet friendly hotel if you can’t do anything with him/her outside the hotel because pets are not welcome. And the number one cited reason for this, in our anecdotal travels (just like your anecdotal travel writing experiences), is that people don’t clean up after their pets.

        1. I think we’re on the same side here, Rod. Again, I never suggested that people should be irresponsible about cleaning up after their pets. I was making a point about hotels that was parallel to the one related to airlines that Mary-Alice made: That people use a lot unsubstantiated — i.e., unscientific — excuses to exclude pets. Note the statistic that you cited in TripAdvisor about cleanup follows this one: “While 57 percent of pet owners said they welcomed small pets on board, 59 percent of non-pet owners would rather not share airplane cabin space with animals, citing allergy and noise issues as their biggest pet peeves.” Both are unsubstantiated, so your anecdotal evidence and mine are equally valid.

  4. Our Dad says he totally agrees with Deborah Flick. He has travelled a LOT for his job! But, from our point of view, our pet peeve is restaurants that don’t allow us even outside. Especially when “outside” is just a public sidewalk. SC is really starting to crack down on us enjoying eating with our parents recently. Even formerly pet-friendly restaurants with outdoor dining are becoming “No Dogs Allowed.” If they allow dogs, they have to use disposable eating ware and they don’t want to go to the trouble or expense and they say it’s not “green.” We’re well behaved, don’t pee or poop at the dinner table and keep out of the way of waitstaff. Mom & Dad don’t do a whole lot without us, but they do like to eat out (Mom’s not so good at the cooking for humans 🙂 and they like to take us on occasion. As for allergies, Mom says if that’s a reason then smokers shouldn’t be allowed around outdoor diners either. The people at DHEC told her it was because of possible parasites that we might have and pass along to humans if we eat off their plate. Apparently, the dishwashers apparently don’t kill our parasites. (?)

    We did find some dog-friendly restaurants on our trip and there are a couple at home, but like you said – we won’t tell 🙂

    Anyway, that’s our pet peeve and we’re sticking with it!

    The Road Dogs

    1. Wow, I thought I’d heard it all for excuses about avoiding dog friendliness but passing along dog parasites…that gets a prize. That’s not even remotely possible through saliva. Let’s see… Only if your dog had a tapeworm and pooped on the plate and the industrial dishwasher wasn’t using hot enough temperatures to destroy germs could that happen. But you gotta give ’em an A for creativity!

  5. Next to non-pet people, there are also little-pet people that have a problem with big-pet people … but maybe that is because they make larger poops 🙂

    We just returned from travelling to Holland to a dog-friendly resort. They charge the usual extra for rent, cleaning and … tax. Yes, a turist tax for dogs. Even the government has its eyes open for this lucrative business. Sorry I meant: necessary public service.

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