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People are traveling more than they have been for a while. You may be one of them who is going on vacation or relocating across the country.

Your pet is an important member of the family so, of course, he is coming with you. All you have to do is buy a ticket, go through security and board the plane. Flying with a pet is no last- minute decision. It’s more complicated for him. Each airline has its own requirements and restrictions for pets so check well ahead of time with the airline that you will be using.

Most require a Certificate of Veterinary Inspection (health certificate) which must be dated within ten days of your trip. Federal regulations require that pets be at least eight weeks old and have been weaned for at least five days. On some airlines, small pets that can fit into a small ventilated carrier that will fit under the seat in front of you can travel in the cabin with you. A one-way fee will be collected at check-in. All others travel as cargo. Print “live animal” in big letters on the top and one side of the carrier and indicate the correct upright position.

Airlines sometimes limit the number of pets on each flight so make reservations for you and your pet early and at the same time. If possible, get a non-stop flight. Avoid plane changes as much as you can. Try not to fly during the busy holiday times. If the weather is warm, schedule your flight in the early morning or evening. In cold weather, schedule a mid-day flight. Take into consideration the time you will be arriving and what the temperature might be then. Reconfirm your reservation the day before you leave to be sure that everything is as it should be. You don’t want any surprises when you get to the airport.

Be sure your pet is wearing a collar that can’t get caught in the carrier door. He should have a tag with your name, permanent address and telephone number and a travel tag with the address and telephone number where you or a contact can be reached when the flight arrives. Bring a photograph of your pet. It will make it easier to find him if he gets lost.

Once you have gotten a carrier approved by the airline, let your pet have several weeks to become used to it he will be less stressed if he is comfortable in his carrier. Put a label with your name, permanent address and the telephone number where your contact person can be reached.

Don’t give your pet tranquilizers before the flight unless they have been prescribed by your vet who understands that the tranquilizers are for flying. Follow your vet’s directions exactly. Don’t give your pet any food for four to six hours before the flight. He can have small amounts of water. You can put ice cubes in the water tray attached to the carrier. A full bowl of water can spill.

Arrive at the airport early and have your pet’s health certificate handy. Passengers with pets must check in at the counter rather than curbside or self -service check in.

When you arrive at your destination, open the carrier as soon as it is safe to do so. If anything seems to be wrong with your pet take him to a vet immediately. Get the results of the exam in writing and include date and time.

As soon as you get to the place where you will be staying, get your pet out of the carrier. If you have a dog, take him for a long walk. Let your cat explore the room. Your pet will be more at ease if he checks out the new surroundings and finds the same rules and boundaries that he is accustomed to at home apply here are well. He will soon feel right at home and be ready for new adventures.

If you would like to adopt a pet, visit the Pittsburg County Animal Shelter at 1206 S. West Street in McAlester. The hours are 10:00 to 5:00 Tuesday through Friday and 10:00 until 2:00 on Saturday. The phone number is 918-423-7803. The adoption fee is $20 for a dog and $15 for a cat. All have been spayed or neutered, vaccinated and microchipped.

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