We name them, pamper them and love them. We bring them everywhere and we surprise them with something new on special occasions like birthdays and holidays. Our children, right? Yes, to some—they are our pets!
Fantastic, Furry Demographics
Think we’re barking up the wrong tree? There are 83.3 million dogs and 95.6 million cats in U.S. homes (an average of 1.47 dogs and 2.11 cats per household). An online survey by Kelton Research, involving about 1000 people, shows that the status of dogs as family members is changing – 81% of those surveyed consider their dogs to be true family members – equal in status to children.
- 54% of Americans now consider themselves to be "pet parents" rather than "pet owners"
- 58% are comfortable using nicknames for themselves such as "Mommy" and "Daddy" when talking about themselves in reference to their dogs
- 35% even refer to their dog as "son" or "daughter"
- And are you sitting down? – 10% of owners celebrate Mother's Day and Father's Day with their dog!
Even if a conservative estimate was used, it’s practical to say that at least 25 percent of corporate transfers will involve a much loved “transfer-cat” or “transfer-dog”. And this doesn’t include the needs of pet owners transporting increasingly common reptiles, birds, rabbits, tropical fish, and pocket pets like hamsters, mice, gerbils, guinea pigs, and, yes, even pet rats.
Lending a Helping ‘Paw’
With so much to think about and plan for during relocation, people often handle every aspect of the move before making a plan for their pets. At NEI, we incorporate this discussion into our up-front Needs Assessment so these special family members are not forgotten.
But just as some companies welcome employees’ pets at work, others frown on it. The same could be said about the levels of assistance offered. It runs the spectrum based on the company’s culture, budget and policies. What works for some won’t necessarily work for others.
The degree of pet relocation assistance within policy primarily depends upon:
- Corporate culture
- Employee “noise” or feedback on the issue
- The policy administrators’ or decision committee’s personal feelings/experience on the topic
More companies today are working to clarify their policy on pet moving assistance to reduce confusion and policy exception requests.
Pet Transportation Is More Complex
As tightening security and ever changing pet regulations in each country makes shipping pets more complex, finding experts that are aware of all the limitations, restrictions, forms, and up-to-date requirements needed to import and export pets becomes critical.
Worldwide door-to-door animal transport companies that manage planning, immunizations, customs clearance (as required), etc. and provide safe and compassionate pet transportation is probably one of the best options, but it does not come cheaply and may not be necessary for all situations.
The most common approach companies take is to provide a pet transportation allowance as part of a Miscellaneous Expense Allowance and the responsibility for making pet transportation arrangements is totally under the control of the employee during a move.
A growing number of companies—about one of every three---offer reimbursement of eligible dog or cat transportation/boarding costs during the relocation, up to varying amounts. Commonly cited policy limits include a $100 to $500 per animal allowance with a maximum of two animals or a maximum total reimbursement of $500 to $750 for all pet relocation costs.
The Tail Wags the Relocating Family
Despite all of the challenges, it is quite clear that one Talent Agility issue for relocating employees remains consistent—pets are considered family members and many employees today feel they should be treated as such. A company’s efforts to respect those emotional connections and support these special family members will be appreciated and go along way to show the company cares about the “whole” family.
Risks to a pet’s health and well-being during transport, and the anxiety of the pet’s family members, can be markedly reduced by communicating important safety and decision tips prior to the departure date and encouraging employees to do research and prepare earlier in the process.
Please click on our link to “Moving Pets” for more information and moving tips to keep in mind before relocating such an important (and furry) member of today’s family unit.
One can also find more information, excellent tips and pet transportation price ranges on numerous pet transportation company websites.