Pets are the most unique cargo you can carry as an online driver. Not only are they alive and require regular attention, but your pet shipping customers are going to be very interested in the progress of the trip.
This guide will address what you need to do as a driver, provide general pet shipping do’s and don’ts, as well as offer specific details about hauling dogs, cats and other animals.
For The Driver
Hauling pets on CitizenShipper all starts with your driver profile. It’s your online resume that should be tailored to attract pet shipping customers by showing them who you are, what transportation you use and your experience. Your driver profile should be professional and include clear pictures of you and your vehicle. If you ship pets exclusively, include that detail.
The most critical part of your driver profile will be the feedback given by customers after a shipment is completed. It’s highly advisable to ask your happy customers to give you positive feedback on pet shipments because pet owners can be very selective about who handles their fur babies. For many, they are part of the family.
Likewise, if a breeder or kennel is shipping a pet, they have a financial interest in the animal’s well being.
Stay in Touch
The best way to earn that all-important positive feedback is to stay in touch with pet customers while on the road. Take the time to shoot a couple of quick pictures during pit stops and forward them to the interested parties.
Mobile technology gives the individual driver the same capabilities as shipping companies, if not more because it’s personalized. Take advantage of it. Your customer will be grateful and it will pay off for you.
All drivers use their own bidding tactics. Some will want to place the first bid on a shipment, while others will wait for a price to be set. Every now and then a bidder will swoop in and quickly underbid everyone and win the shipment. Drivers that do this are likely stacking cargo, meaning they are compiling several shipments into one trip. This is the true secret to making money as an online shipping driver.
This strategy is made easier by CitizenShipper’s Stacked Shipments Tool, located at the bottom right of a listing page. It allows drivers to bid on other loads near the point of origin or destination of the shipment they are currently viewing.
This tool displays up to six available shipments near the item you’re viewing, as well as estimates of extra cash that can be made for each extra load, as well as additional miles added to the trip.
Ultimately, bidding on pets takes common sense, according to driver David Zimmerman, who regularly stacks pet shipments together.
“Sometimes the bids can be so high that the customer just doesn’t bite on any offers,” he said. “When that happens the whole community suffers, because the customer just goes away and no one gets the shipment. No one benefits.”
For The Pet
Just like the driver should get his vehicle ready for the trip, the animal also needs to be prepared. Dogs and cats traveling in pet carriers should be conditioned spend plenty of time in them - including sleeping - in the days leading up to the trip.
A comfortable animal means a comfortable trip. Drivers will need to get specifics on the pet’s feeding schedule, and allocate enough time in the trip for regular walks if a dog is being transported.
Ask the owners if there are any special requirements, including medications or special diets. The customer usually provides all of these items, including the carrier. This should be made clear in the listing; otherwise you, the driver, need to be sure of what’s included before bidding on a pet shipment.
Finally, if you are required to stay overnight in a hotel, be sure the lodger accommodates cats and dogs. The national chain La Quinta has traditionally been a pet-friendly hotel stop, without charging an additional fee. Other chains allow pets, but charge a non-refundable fee that may be cost-prohibitive for the trip.
Dogs can be some of the easiest pets to transport, but caution must be taken with some canines. Large dogs should be caged at all times while in transport, and care exercised when removing them or placing them in the pet carrier. Different breeds (Pit Bulls, Doberman Pinschers, German Shepherds, etc.) have reputations that must be respected, even though most have a pleasant temperament.
On occasion, some drivers allow smaller dogs to ride outside of their carriers. The utmost care must be taken if you do so, according to driver David Zimmerman.
“If a dog is playful and nice and you’re comfortable with letting it ride in the backseat if can be just fine and actually fun, “ he said. “You really just have to read the individual dog.”
Another note about dogs- climate control is critical. Dogs’ temperatures tends to run a degree or two higher than that of humans, so be sure they travel under a comfortable temperature. Generally, the bigger the dog the more air conditioning they need, especially if they’re riding in the back of an SUV.
This leads to another advantage of online pet shipping: since they must be transported in a climate-controlled environment, a large, closed cabin is all you need to get the job done. Cars, trucks and SUV’s can each handle the appropriate cargo.
Puppies need special care as well. A breeder will usually only release a puppy to a new owner at eight weeks old with all of the required immunizations, so that is a good rule of thumb to follow for all canines. Also, breeders normally supply paper documents verifying the shots that have been administered.
Potty breaks for canines usually run between every three or four hours. It’s also advisable to leash dogs and let them burn some energy during a pit stop. A tired dog travels well.
Given the right amount of carrier preparation time before the trip, a regular feeding schedule and just enough attention, the lovable feline can be a joy to deliver. With proper litter box maintenance, they also can require less ‘pit stop’ time, resulting in a quicker delivery.
When you do have to open the carrier door, be sure the cat has no way to get out, according to West Coast cat transporter Cory Jennings.
“Cats are notorious escape artists,” Jennings said. “You have got to be very careful when getting them in and out of the cage. If you do it wrong, it’s crazy cat city.”
Many of the same guidelines for dogs apply to cats as well, including special diets, feeding schedules, medications and any other specific requirements. Additionally cats should stay in the confines of the carrier for the entire trip. Their unpredictable nature makes it too risky to allow a feline to wander the cabin.
Kittens also shouldn’t be transported before eight weeks of age, and should have all of their vaccinations if being picked up from a breeder.
Transporting Exotic Animals
It’s not all just cats and dogs available for online transport. Every now and then an exotic animal comes up for bid. Should you win one of these shipments, be certain all of the exotic animal’s needs are addressed before picking them up. Whether it’s a monkey, snake, lizard, or raccoon, each should have very specific instructions for care, including diets, medications, temperatures, etc.
Most importantly, every exotic animal breeder should offer paper certifications of the exotic animal’s point of origin and destination, as well as breeding and medical histories, according to David Zimmerman, who recently transported a Patas monkey (pictured above) from Florida to Texas.
“Be sure the breeder gives you all of the proper paper forms when you haul an exotic animal,” said Zimmerman. “Keep all of your documents together. You never know when you might need them.”
By following these guidelines, from sharpening your driver profile to finding your own bidding strategy and caring for certain breeds, online pet shipping can be very rewarding. Good luck!