Moving with Pets: What You Need to Know for Your PCS (with Kari Mendoza)

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PCS With Military.com Moving With Pets: What You Need to Know for Your PCS (with Kari Mendoza)

When it comes to paying for Permanent Change of Station (PCS) moves, pets are left out in the cold. That’s because while the military pays to move your household goods and your human family, they don’t provide any funding or help moving animals. If you want to relocate a dog, cat or anything else, it’s up to you to pay for it and figure out a way to make it happen.

That gets complicated and expensive for any overseas move. Not only do you need to get your pet on a plane, but you have to understand and abide by local destination laws. Military families and service members often spend thousands of dollars working to get a pet to and from a new duty station – a price that only goes up if the wrong flight is booked or rules are misunderstood.

That’s where pet shippers like Kari Mendoza and Island Pet Movers come. Shipping pets worldwide for military families has become Kari’s expertise, post-Navy service. In this episode of PCS with Military.com, Kari gives the best tips and tricks for moving pets based on her years in the industry.

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The following is an edited transcript of this episode of PCS with Military.com.

Amy Bushatz: There are a few people out there who are the reigning experts of their field. They are the people who everyone points to for problem solving the people who know them and work with them, or simply know someone who knows them or works with them, consider them to be the be all end, all of help in a particular area of expertise.

And here on PCS with Military.com, we've done our best to find those experts in various parts of PCS problem solving and bring them to you. Kari Mendoza is exactly that kind of person when it comes to relocating pets and animals, as part of a military move. A Navy veteran who grew up in an Army family, caring goes the stress of moving with the military. And as an animal lover and dog mom, she also knows how important it is to keep the whole family, including pets, together. That's why she founded the Hawaii based Island Pet Movers, which helps military families relocate their pets worldwide. Today Kari is going to share her best insider view, and tips and tricks for moving as a complete military family. Kari, welcome to PCS with Military.com.

Kari Mendoz: Thank you, Amy. Thank you so much for having me. This is such an important issue that is going to never end. It will continuously go on forever. I can attest to that for being, you know, in my mid forties. And I've been moving with the military since I was three years old. And pets are always part of that move.

Amy Bushatz: Yeah. So how many times have you moved with or without the military?

Kari Mendoz: So I calculated this up. I just sit there on my hands and fingers. And, you know, as a military kid, I don't remember where I was, I don't remember how old I was when I was somewhere, but I remember everything based on where I was and what grade I was in. So I counted that up and it's been I've moved 21 times not counting local moves within the same city, but 21 different cities or countries that I've lived in. And I've been in Hawaii now for 13 years. This is the most cumulative time I've lived in one state, my entire life is Hawaii.

Amy Bushatz: And you're in Hawaii and I'm in Alaska. So these are two very different locations. On a different episode of PCS with Military.com this season, we have me in Alaska talking to someone in, in Italy and someone else in Japan if I remember correctly. See we've, we're so international that I've lost track. So how did you get involved in pet shipping for military and civilian families? How did this become your area of expertise?

Kari Mendoz: So in 2008 I used to live in the California bay area and I was a land development project manager, doing a new home construction and land development and new home construction. And with the housing market crash in 2008 I found myself on one Wednesday where it was a sunny beautiful day.

And I thought that was great. And all of a sudden, I didn't have a job two days later. So, over a period of time over the next year, life completely changed. I had moved to Thailand for a little while. I loved living in the islands, but I was ready to be back in the United States. And I was back I came back to home to California and my best friend, he and I were stationed together in the Navy and his wife and I became just dear friends. I consider them brothers and sisters of mine. And he had, was in Iraq and they were getting stationed here at Schofield Barracks. And I was sitting with April one day and she was just beyond stressed about moving her dog to Hawaii.

And I was just watching the stress she was dealing with. And I looked at her and I said, gosh, you know, this is, you're dealing with governments and, and you're dealing with permitting processes. And the entire time actually I was in California, which was seven years, I competed in dog sports. So I competed an international dog sport with my German Shepherds.

And I had traveled with them throughout the country and internationally. And I had done some career servicing for some of our some of my competitors who were unable to take their pets to Europe back and forth. So I was familiar with pet travel. Also with moving our pets, because as a military kid, you know, we changed schools every year and you lose your friends every year, excuse me, every PCS you know, you lose your friends, you lose your schools, you lose your teachers. But the one thing that always remained consistent was our animals. And for my mom you know that was just, it was something that was never an option, when we were in an E5 back in the eighties and I can't imagine, what the income level was back then, but I'll tell you, my mom always said to my dad, like the pets will come.

So, you know, we've moved back and forth to Germany with our animals when I was a kid. And so as I was watching April kind of struggle through this, and I just kind of started putting pieces together. And I said, you know, would you pay somebody to do this work for you? And she said, yeah, absolutely. As I said, well, maybe I'll join up with you guys over in Hawaii. The, I miss being in the islands when I was in Thailand, and maybe I'll put this together. So, I joined up with them. They were stationed at Schoffield. And I got here on island, I started up, I sat down and every night she would say you're in front of the computer all day. And I said, yeah, I'm building a business.

And I built my website myself. I did all my permitting and everything myself for my business. I didn't even know that pet shipping was an industry until so about three months later, when I started looking for insurances and I came across the IPATA organization, and then I reached out to the IPATA organization as well. Other people actually ship animals, too. And so, um, I started, I started island pet movers, and it was definitely dedicated around helping military families, keeping their pets together because I know how difficult the struggles can be. And our, company has grown tremendously in 13 years, but the core value of what we do, hasn't changed since day one.

Amy Bushatz: So you mentioned an organization IPATA, I think is the acronym. Can you tell us what that is?

Kari Mendoz: So IPATA is the international pet and animal transportation association. And IPATA is a member group, organization of pet shippers worldwide. The organization doesn't necessarily, they don't dictate what each individual company does with their servicing.

What they do ensure is that each member who is a member of IPATA is licensed, they're insured, they're following local jurisdictional laws, as far as handlers for animals and maintaining your your licenses within the jurisdiction of the country that you're in. It does give us a great network of other professional shippers all around the world. And not only that, like a lot of these pet shippers our colleagues and they're dear friends of mine for many years. But it's really nice that I know that I can call to a pet shipper who is in a foreign country and I have all faith in them that they are going to absolutely take care of my client's pets.

So if my client says I need delivery to Kaiserslautern and in Germany, I know I can call two of my colleagues at two different companies that I have intimate knowledge of what it is that they do. I know them personally, and I know that I can tell my client that their pets are going to be in good hands.

Amy Bushatz: Do they create an industry standard that families should be looking for when choosing a pet shipper?

Kari Mendoz: Yes, and no, I mean, there's an industry standard that we all need to uphold in order to be a part of IPATA. And that's, as long as it falls along an ethics line um, there's also like the light animal regulations that we all have to follow and maintain our standards of shipping. Does that mean that everybody who is a member of IPATA is going to be the best of what it is that they do? I can't attest to that. I think that there are members of IPATA who are definitely specialized in certain areas of what it is that they do. And they all kind of have their each individual area for that. IPATA it does not, they do not oversee directly any particular company. They don't oversee pricing. They don't oversee schedules. IPATA members are actually not supposed to discuss pricing amongst each other because of U.S. Business relations, laws and price fixing scandals.

Amy Bushatz: So what is that industry standard that people should be looking for then?

Kari Mendoz: I think the biggest thing is that, when you're looking for help from a pet shipping company. And also I shouldn't reiterate, there are pet shipping companies out there that for whatever reason are not IPATA members. And that doesn't mean that they are not a good company. Some members just choose not to not to join IPATA, it could be that they may be just a small company in a small area, but they are really good at what they do, they just don't want to pay the fees and become a member. But one of the biggest things that I that I like to say to people is that if you are going to use a shipper, reach out to somebody who's in the country that you're going to be departing from. And that's because I cannot book flights for somebody who's departing out of Germany or Italy or France, I would have to go to my client, my agent, my colleague in those countries, and they would have to make the bookings for. So if the pet owner needs assistance on the arrival side, like here in the United States, absolutely, we're happy to help with that. But if they say, Hey, like I don't need those services, I'll handle clearing the customs ourselves. Then I would have them just go directly to the agent in that particular country, so they're not utilizing and paying for services of a middle man.

Some of our clients really want that. They want ease. They want one bill. They just say, Hey Kari I worked with you in the past. You moved me to Germany, I just want to move with you coming home. And that's perfectly acceptable, as long as they are aware, we like to try to make it very transparent that we will be working with another shipper in that other country, and there will be additional fees for that, for the facilitation of that. That's something that, you know, that you can keep that. And again, word of mouth is it's huge. So if you're asking your neighbors and the other fellow families that are in your command of who it is that they use and what were the services that they provided and do you need all of those services?

That's kind of, you know, what people should look at and comparing apples to apples when you're getting quotes from different agencies, you know, what is it that they're , including in that? What are the pieces that maybe you don't need in that? Some pet shippers will require that you have door to door service because that's their business model.

But some of the clients, they don't necessarily need that. So it's always asking, do you require these services? Do you require that I use your agent, to clear customs? Everybody's going to be a bit different. Some people do it for control purposes. They do it for just keeping, you know, making sure that they're not going to have issues.

You know, we know that if I use an, a particular agent in Frankfurt to handle the clearances and the home delivery, I know that there's not going to be an issue that my pet owner has to deal with. But at the same time, I also know that the majority of my pet owners who are military are looking to ship more on a budget.

And so we don't require that you have to use an agent for those clearings. Those are more just a, as a benefit as an extra benefit if that's what they need.

Amy Bushatz: Okay. So you mentioned budget, right? Military families move a lot or they tend to. Moving can be very expensive, even without trying to ship a pet or move the whole family together like that.

There's a lot of controversy over why the military does not help pay for moving pets. If they pay for other "household goods" are they considered a household goods? Why don't they get moved as well? If they'll move your hot tub, why won't they move your dog? So I'm wondering what changes you think as someone who is an expert in this that the Defense Department needs to make, what do they need to do to make this easier on families?

Kari Mendoz: I mean, I think all of us would love to see the government you know, the military decide that, pets are family members. And I mean, you have other, a lot of active duty military who don't have children. So you'll move a child, you move all the child's furniture, et cetera, et cetera. But to some people, you know, this German shepherd is their child.

For whatever reason, if it's a choice or if it's a, a physiological issue. That's for the frustrations for me, it wouldn't be great for the military to recognize the psychological impact of animals and what they contribute to the military family and how that contributes to readiness of the military?

I think that would be amazing. But you know, I don't get to make those decisions. I there's several things. I also feel that if, a, if an airline takes government contracts for flying military personnel, and they're willing to, you know, they've got those rates and the government is paying for military families to fly on that airline, that they should be required to take military pets regardless of weight restrictions or breed restrictions. As long as there's safety of the animal, that is the main concern. If they are taking taxpayer dollars to move our military families around the world, they should be required to move the animals as well.

It's the same on the AMC, right? So this weight restriction, I get it. And unfortunately it comes back to unions and what the liability for the unions and the handling is, right? So that's where this 150 pound weight restriction comes from it's union handling. But there are other ways of facilitating these moves and particularly in a wide body aircraft. I mean, the pets can be put onto um, a pallet and then they're loaded on a different part of the aircraft. So it is an additional handling, but again, that's part of moving a family and moving the service member. You do the steps that are necessary to get them where they need to go. That's just me though. I, it makes it sound so easy to just implement these things and, there's all this bureaucratic red tape, but you know, for me, when I look at it like this, shouldn't be this hard, but it's a frustration for sure.

Amy Bushatz: One of the other frustrations in a world of frustrations around this issue, right, is that people are receiving last minute orders, that there's only so many spots for pets on these AMC flights going overseas, ,those fill up really early. Anyone who's ever traveled knows that last minute travel stuff is more expensive than well-planned travel stuff, I don't care what you're doing. So, I'm wondering if you have advice for these military families who need to arrange last minute travel or prepare so they can travel with their pets on itineraries that they don't have yet. So what do they do?

Kari Mendoz: So, and that's a good thing and it's always been like that, right? It's always hurry up and wait. And all of a sudden it's like, you're going to you're going to Germany and then three days later, oh no, we're going to Japan. You've been going to Germany for six months and you're all excited and that's it, sorry, you're going to Japan. There are some circumstances you'll never will be able to really plan for.

But one of the big things is that you know you're going to move eventually you will move. You are a military family, and this is what you do. I mean, you might get lucky. I've seen people who were stationed here in Hawaii for 15 years. Good for them, but that's not the norm, right? So if you're consistently planning for that and, and one thing, you know, that um, people will reach out to us and then they say, I don't know when I'm moving. I don't know what, you know, what date do you want me to put on here on the contract? Our contracts are always an estimated date because we get it. So, not only am I, you know, prior military, grew up as a military brat, almost all of my employees with the exception of two are military spouses. And so we literally, we get it, like we they've all been there. We all absolutely understand this. But one thing that I think people take a bit for granted is that the ability to have the pet shipper on your side for when you do need to pivot. That if you plan to always have them in your back pocket, they can help you get through a lot of the the nuances of moving.

Even if you do get on the AMC, even if you are able to fly your pet as excess baggage. But we are the logistical experts in what it is everything to do with pets. So for us, we take a deposit on our contracts and that deposit is that's for us starting our service. And that's going to give everything that we need to do to help you move.

If for some reason you end up getting on the AMC, like we're clapping, we're happy for you because we're not making our money on the airfare. That's not where that's not where our time is covered. Our time has covered in our deposits. Our time is covered in the preparation that we're getting with you and with your pets and, you know, helping you to get your pet accustomed, to crates, being in the right crate.

I mean, the number of clients that don't have the proper crate, and, you know, show up and they're trying to get their pets on the AMC, that's still very stressful. It's stressful when you're in Seattle and you're going to Japan and it's very limited and you missed that flight. You may not have another flight.

So if you missed the flight because you don't have the proper crate. Well, now you may have to hire a professional pet shipper to get you where you need to go. So there are a lot of things that pet shippers can do that help you, even if they do not facilitate the actual flights for you. We have a lot of clients that end up taking their pets in cabin. So again, that airfare is not something that we're charging to them, but they are still paying for our expert guidance services to help them get where they're going.

And I think that's something that's really important that people, they reach out to, business mentors. They reach out to finance mentors. They reach out to realtors for help when they're moving somewhere. And a lot of times people forget that pet shippers, we're here to help you along the way, not just physically get your animal on a plane and get them to their final destination.

Amy Bushatz: Right. Right. And that makes total sense because I don't do any part of my military move completely on my own. When I moving my pet we own two dogs, a small one and a big one, you know, it's like the odd couple. And, and Were I try to move them overseas, this would be a huge stress for me. These dogs are part of my family and we'd want to make sure that they got over there, safely, first of all. Affordably if possible, but mostly safely.

And those pieces of that process are not something that I know anything about. So then I'd be scrambling to figure it out and just on and on. If that was my household goods, not my dogs or if that was my home, I wouldn't be doing those things without some help, I'd be hiring someone or like a real estate agent for a home or a management company or something and figuring it out. So it makes perfect sense that this is a thing that you can lean on someone for help with.

Kari Mendoz: You know, and the biggest thing is a lot of frustrations, I'm obviously in a lot of chat boards, and a lot of frustrations I consistently see, are I've been on hold for seven hours with this airline. And I got, I was transferred five times on this airline and this person told me this, and this person told me that.

And what you get with a pet shipper is that we are the industry. People reach out to me from airlines to ask me, Kari, what is going on with this? What is the policy on this? We've helped airlines to um, write their pet policy. I've had major airlines that have reached out to me and say, Hey, what do you think about this? What is your input on this? Does that mean I've written their policy? Absolutely not. Have I had a bend of their ear? A hundred percent I have. And so when somebody says to me, you know, I see this frustration from people that, you know, that person at this company told them this, and then they, then they told me, nevermind, it's this.

We already know all that. We've done it. We literally do this all day long. That's all that we do. We know when there's a change with the airline because we're airlines are industry partners of ours. So we know when changes are coming up before they're made public. And when there are certain changes that happen that the public may not even know, like all of a sudden, bulldogs have been canceled on this particular flight or you can't fly on this, we know immediately the work around. And that's what you're getting with the pet shipper is that you're getting somebody who is able to pivot when we need to pivot. And that pivot could be uh, like a couple of weeks ago we had a big flight out of Guam. And we had 27 animals that were flying from Honolulu to Dallas and the pets all landed here, we cleared customs, we got everybody potty break and we're cleaning out crates. And I get a phone call from American Airlines that says, hey snow storm in Dallas, all the flights were canceled through the weekend. This was on a Tuesday. So 27 animals were having to halt, pivot, what are we going to do?

And we're on the phone and I've got, different airlines, I've got management and airlines to understand what it is that we're dealing with immediately. And I said, Hey, I need, I need help with this, can you help facilitate this? And between those connections with the management at those airlines, we got all of those pets, with the exception of three that had to stay through the weekend, moved the same night and got them back on track where it was that they were going.

So that's what you're getting with the shippers. You're getting relationships, you're getting inside industry information and not all of us are here just to, like I said, we're not making money on putting your pet on a flight. Again, I can't attest to different companies, but my company itself, we really, truly want to help families keep their pets together and we're going to do whatever it possible that we can to help you do that. Even if that's saying, hey, maybe you should buy your own ticket on a commercial airliner because the military is flying you on an airline that doesn't allow animals. However, if you look at this airline, which is cheaper and you can fly as excess baggage, you're able to move your pet and you're going to pay out of pocket, but ultimately you're going to save. Those are the things that we walked through with our clients that they're getting as part of the services that they hire us for..

Amy Bushatz: Most of the discussion around shipping pets is around dogs. Sometimes around cats. But of course people have all sorts of different animals. So what type of pets are more difficult to ship than others? Or are there any pets that you recommend families do find foster homes for, rather than trying to bring them OCONUS, even though that's obviously not the preferred answer, but is there any pet that falls into that category?

Kari Mendoz: So when we see, I think you see dogs mostly because of with dogs, so many breeds of dogs and so many restrictions in relation to those breeds over 30 of the most common breeds fall under the restriction for brachycephalic which is like snub nose. And so, you know, over the last six or so years that's become increasingly more and more difficult to ship. So I think that's why you see more dog issues. Right. And then mixes of those. So then it's like exponential, like the number of animals that are challenging to ship. But really when it comes down to you, so between, you know, the brachycephalic dogs and um, extremely large breeds, it's going to be the exotics.

Right. So, if you've got reptiles. I mean, I know I used to have a snake. I joined the Navy and I had to find somebody to take my snake. I was sad. My mom was like, no way. But you can't bring to Hawaii, right? So there's no, there are no reptile imports to Hawaii. So the exotics really tend to have some problems, not problems, but more challenges, difficult or just not at all.

You know, bird, particularly with permits and imports for dealing with endangered species type of permitting that's required, African Grays I mean, birds can live outlive their owners. That's something that, you know, you don't want to leave a bird. I mean, birds again, we've grown up with big birds. And they are extremely um, become part of your family, right? And you talk to them and they talk back to you. But they can be very challenging and very expensive. And in some countries not able to be moved absolutely at all.

Amy Bushatz: And so the solution there is for family, well for military members or family members to either give them away as you did with your snake, I'm assuming you did not get your snake back?

Kari Mendoz: I did not get my snake back no.

Amy Bushatz: What was that? What was the snake's name? I have to know more about this.

Kari Mendoz: His name was Jake. He was a he was a beautiful Burmese Python. He was gorgeous. He was a beautiful snake.

Amy Bushatz: And how long do snakes typically live? I am not a snake owner, so I have very little knowledge on this.

Kari Mendoz: I was I think they can live like 20 plus years, a long time.

Amy Bushatz: Is it possible that Jake is still alive?

Kari Mendoz: I have no idea. I mean, he might be, I'm old. I've been out of the Navy for 22 years. So, maybe!

Amy Bushatz: Alright. Fair enough. I'm just -sidebar. Just curious. So for those animals, like Jake, or like, birds it's may be better to foster out or, you know, giveaway the animal versus trying to find a way to move it only to be met 'with this isn't allowed in this country at all.'

Kari Mendoz: it's hard because it's like nobody wants to get to, you know, to give away at a pet. Um, one thing that people should really be considerate of is the fact that you may be able to get it there today. And this is extremely point on for bulldogs. It's, English and French bulldogs have such a bad rap in the flight industry and the airline industry that we may be able to get them somewhere today.

But at the end of your tour, two or three years from now, those policies or those allowances could be completely gone. And it wouldn't be surprising to me. It's, It's hard to say that, but I, you know, if I knew I had family who could watch my bulldog if I had a bulldog and they would, you know, be in a good spot and I was going somewhere like Japan or Korea or to Guam, would, would I be more inclined to leave that animal? Like I absolutely, I would, because I would be fearful that I would get somewhere and then eventually you can't get them out of there. And that is a very real scenario.

Amy Bushatz: Right. Right. And you're unlikely to be stationed in one of the places you just mentioned for years and years, they're not typically very long tours unless you make them be. There, I mean, there are ways to stay longer if that's what you want. But you know, it's not worth the risk of a dog who you could have as part of your family for 15 years, for two of those years, you're in Japan and that may not be able to bring them home again, if you get them over there, that's a, that's definitely a consideration. My dogs are not in those breed categories, but I can't even imagine the really the pain would be the only word for it, of being faced with that and having to make that decision.

We've been talking about the challenges we've been talking about, the things maybe DoD could do better. What can military families do to advocate for better care and consideration of their pets in the moving process? What steps should they take?

Kari Mendoz: Oh, I think what's challenging, I see from a military family standpoint is honestly the lack of knowledge of how challenging some breeds sizes can actually be.

And so is that something that we, you know, we demand or we expect the military family to know, or is that something that better can go back to what the leadership can help for military families. So, you know, you were asking that a bit earlier, what can the military do to help and come down to, you know, how can military families advocate better care and consideration?

Well, a lot of them don't know that there's going to be a problem with moving their pet until they're ready to move their pet. By that time they put the part of the family right? So I think some of these discussions should come back to the military leadership prior to families or individuals obtaining their pets.

Because if this, if these considerations were taken before you adopt or buy or whatever it is, however you obtain that animal to your family. You're not going to have all of these stressors later when you do move, because eventually again, you will move. And so I wish I could see something for leadership that's up front with the facts around talking about pets. And that could be as early as in bootcamp and then military academies and in near tech schools. Because we talk with uh, junior, soldiers, sailors Marines one, and we talk with them about um, proper finance and certain things. Pets are always going to be an integral part of military families.

And it should be something that's discussed from leadership from the very beginning of just making people aware that these scenarios are going to come up and that there should be consideration for types of animals and breeds of animals and sizes of animals. Just to let them know like, hey before you decide, you're going to get an English Mastif that could weigh 240 pounds, you may have a very difficult time moving them throughout your military career. So that's something that I think from the very beginning military families could really, pay attention ,and I can just not paying attention. It's just be aware of the fact that there are difficulties in moving some breeds and people just don't know, they don't know. They don't even know that, there are going to be costs associated with moving your pet. A lot of military young military families, they assume that it's covered. So it's not even a situation that we know they're considering when they're buying a pet, that is a large animal, when they're adopting an animal that is going to be a restricted breed. It's not a consideration because they just assume the military is going to move that for them. And that's not a fault of the military family. It's, to me, it's a fault on the leadership of, you know, just making them aware.

Because again, military pets are not something that is a part of the military move, it's not considered something that is essential, but those of us who have animals that are absolutely essential to our family. So it's hard, right? It's like, where do you, where does that discussion come into play? And if we can talk about finance, if we can talk about sexually transmitted diseases in bootcamp, like we can talk about pets. Because pets are really, really important. And they're going to be important forever.

Amy Bushatz: W ell-played analogy. But I mean to that end, like, I don't think that's necessarily a stretch. It's kind of funny to compare the two, but they are they're both things that are worth talking about and they are both issues. And however, to whatever extent you wish they weren't in the military, that, there are things that we need to discuss and not always are they discussed.

So moving military pets you know, It can be really stressful as we've been talking about. So I'm wondering if you can just maybe leave us in this episode with three or four of your best tips for getting military pets moved with as low stress as possible.

Kari Mendoz: I think, like I mentioned a bit earlier, it's definitely being prepared and if that's being prepared in the sense that you've moved your animals yourself multiple times, you know what it is that you're doing, or it's being prepared by diligently doing your research. You know, if you know you're going to be moving to Germany and you do all the work to get your pet there. Hey, you're already halfway there. Figure out what it is it's going to take to get your pet home at the same time. Or, you know, reach out to varying pet shippers who are going to handle that process.

One of the biggest things though, that I think are stressors to pet owners, and this is not just military pet owners, it's all pet owners, is that we give animals too many human emotions and those human emotions that we place on our pets create stress for us.

So I hear so often, oh my God, my dog is going to freak out, he hasn't been away from me for 48 hours. Or my animals never moved before, he's never been on a plane. I said, yeah, they're never going to know they're on a plane. They have no idea. Um, you know, those you were attributing these emotions to your pet, which in turn creates stress for you. And then that feeds stress to your pet. So one thing that I wish more pet owners would understand is that animals are extremely resilient. And I mean, when people tell me that, their pet is they're not friendly and they don't like people and I show them a picture of their pet that comes straight out of their crate and jumps up on my lap and they're like, huh.

And I said, yeah, it's because animals, they're very resilient and particularly dogs that fall in line into this pack mentality of you know what, I don't know what's going on, but you apparently do. You know, when I pick up a pet and I'm like, let's go. And they're like okay. I may have some hesitation, but most pets are going to do just fine.

There are some that do have some anxiety issues, which, you know, again, there can be some medication that is allowed for traveling for anxiety, and there can be calming devices, and calming treats and calming medication that you can do for your pets. But the majority of animals don't need that. It's the owners that need the calming, the calming aids and you know the anti-anxiety.

And again, that's something when you're working with somebody professionally in the industry, we can kind of help get you through that and really try to help you ease that anxiety. And so that is something that, again, a lot of that anxiety and that stress comes from attributing, those human emotions to your pets that are unnecessary to do so.

One of the biggest things that I can say is socialize your pets. And I honestly cannot reiterate that enough. The animals that we do tend to have problems with are going to be dogs that are not socialized and they're not socialized, or they don't, they're not properly trained in crate training or walking down the street and barking at dogs.

So if you have a dog that's not properly socialized around other animals and they don't have to like other animals, they just have to know that you can't act like a fool around other animals. That's where we start to see problems as we'll be at a in an airline, and the dog is just acting ballistically crazy because there's another animal that's going to be on that plane and that's going to happen.

You're not going to, it's rare that you'll have a plane that your animals are the only animals on that airplane. And so if an animal is acting like that, airline staff are going to be cautious, like, is this dog going to get out? Is it going to bite us? Is our one of our, one of our handlers going to get injured?

Or is this animal going to break out of the crate on the aircraft and damage our aircraft, which has happened. Um, before United stop shipping animals in general, they had put a restriction on Malinois in general because they had several instances where Malinois busted out of their crate and they were, you know, rummaging around in the aircraft and caused damage to the aircraft.

So, you know, having a pet that is socialized and knows how to act in front of other pets, it's really important um, when you are going to be moving. And so again, that comes back to crate training, and the importance of crate training. The number of people that come to us, they're trying to travel in three weeks time and their pets never seen a crate, that's really stressful for the owner. It's just for the pet and it can be dangerous for the pet because you could have a pet that's pawing and trying as hard as they can to get out of that crate. So if crate training from the beginning of when you get an animal is, it's not even a training, it's your crate is your home. It is your safehaven. That is something that should be integrated in any pet family. And it's not even just for military pets. I mean, people that have their pets crate trained, you may live in the same place in Southern California your whole life, but all of a sudden wildfires are coming through and you're displaced and your pets gotta be taken with you.

If your pet is crate trained and you're able to load them up. And now all of a sudden you're in a shelter or you're somewhere that you need to be evacuated or on a military move, you know, right away. You don't have to worry about your animal being as stressed in that situation, because they know that when they're in their crate, they're in a safe spot and that the whole world can be crazy, but when I'm here in my confined area, like I'm safe and everything is, everything's going to be ok.

Amy Bushatz: I think it's really interesting what you're saying about assigning human emotions to animals. Because usually when people say don't do that, you think, oh, you don't know dogs, but you do know dogs, you know animals.

So for somebody like yourself who has made this, not just their business, but their passion, and owns the animals and loves animals to say there's a difference between what I'm feeling when I'm feeling stressed and when my animals feeling stress and when I'm assigning my stress to my animal that's really saying something I think and so, I mean, I'm definitely guilty of that. We all assign how we're feeling to, to our animals. And that's why we love them so much in a lot of ways, because we feel like they understand us. And part of that is assigning them human emotions.

Kari Mendoz: Well, they, you know, and the thing is they give us that unconditional love that you can't get from a person. And so, you know, people feel that and they're just like, oh my God, my dog absolutely loves me, and my dog is going to be super stressed out. But you know, I have a German shepherd who loves anybody, especially if you have a ball, and it's like annoying sometimes how much she loves anybody. And it's how it is with a lot of animals. I mean, a lot. I think cats probably have the most difficult time in transition and and traveling, and that's just because that's the nature of cats and not all cats. I have some cats are like extremely social. They walk right up to the front of the crate and they're like meow meow moew, and they say hi. But dogs in general, they do, they just do really well. It may take them a couple of days to get, you know, their bearings about them if they're not with their owners. But I think people are honestly extremely surprised. The majority of my clients are very surprised at how easily their pets jump up in our vans when we show up at their house. How easily the pets come right out of the kennels when we pick them up at the quarantine facility. There, we hear it often like, wow, they're just ready to leave me huh? And it's they just, they're just like, let's go,

Amy Bushatz: And it's probably because you have treats and you smell like other animals.

Kari Mendoz: We do this every day. And again, that's, that is one thing about using a pet ship or wherever it is in the world, we don't have that stress. Like we're not feeling stress. We don't allow our clients to come to the airport with us here in Hawaii. And that's because you're nervous and you're stressed. And I don't want your pet to feel that when I'm at the airport with your pet, they're not, I'm not stressed. Your pet might be, but the fact that I'm not definitely helps to calm them down.

And so, you know that when I, again, pack mentality of an animal and authoritative figures to them, it's like, Hey, let's go. And they might look at their mom and they might look and be like, okay, you said, let's go. And the majority of them are ready to go and ready to load up and we're on our way.

Amy Bushatz: Yeah. Yeah.

Kari, thank you so much for your advice today. And for helping us understand this wide world of pet shipping and things that people need to think about as they're getting ready for their own PCS is with their entire family. We really value your time.

Kari Mendoz: Thank you so much, Amy, for having me. It's been it's been fun and this is a, it's a passion. It's been my life for the last 13 years um, as a business, but it's been my life since I was three years old, so a really long time. And I enjoy talking with people about it and spreading the word and just sharing that, you know, pet shipping, it's safe. It really is safe and it's much needed. And not only is it safe, but it's needed and pets are, their family.

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