I 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 DogJaunt.com, 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.