The COVID-19 pandemic has led to travel restrictions across the globe. This isn’t to say that traveling is completely off the table, but it has become a lot more difficult to jetset around.
If you have an emotional support animal, you know just how important it is to be able to have them with you as you make your way from point A to point B. Traveling with your ESA on any mode of transportation besides your own personal vehicle comes with its own set of rules, regulations, and etiquette expectations. If you don’t know these rules prior to booking your trip, it could slow down your travels, and fellow passengers could be affected – especially during the current viral crisis.
So, what if you do need to travel during COVID-19? Here’s all you need to know about how to travel safely with your ESA during lockdown.
Is it safe to travel by airplane during the COVID-19 pandemic?
Traveling by air has been restricted to help reduce the global spread of COVID-19. However, flights are not grounded altogether. After all, people need to get where they’re going, and sometimes four wheels just can’t get you there. When it comes to traveling by air during the pandemic, there are some things you need to know.
According to the CDC, being on the plane is not the riskiest part of air travel. Standing in lines waiting to board and waiting in airport terminals could pose the highest risk of transmission because of crowds and close contact with other travelers. The plane itself is a less risky spot to be because of the way air circulation is performed by the filtration system.
On most flights, however, the option for social distancing isn’t as available because of how the seats are set up, so the risk is still higher while traveling by air than other modes of transport.
Traveling with an ESA during COVID
Different airlines have their own sets of rules and regulations surrounding passengers and their emotional support animals. For a more in-depth look at what’s okay and what isn’t, it’s best to explore your chosen airline’s information regarding your ESA. In general, though, if you need to fly with your ESA during COVID, you should have all the proper documentation prepared and ensure that your ESA is equipped to behave in different scenarios that could arise on the plane.
Required documentation usually includes an authorization from your doctor stating that your ESA is registered as such and is needed to help you manage your illness. Vet documentation may also be required to ensure that your ESA is up to date with all the required vaccines and is in a good enough state of health to be traveling.
As the passenger, you may also be required to provide documentation providing your personal guarantee that your ESA will be on their best behavior. This means that you have complete control of your ESA at all times, they are potty-trained, and they will have the ability to stay by your side and not disrupt other passengers.
Other options for travel during the pandemic include trains or buses; however, they will come with their own set of regulations that will need to be abided by when it comes to both the pandemic and traveling with your ESA.
What precautions should I take for my ESA?
Your ESA can contract COVID-19 just like you can, so it’s important to take the same precautions as you would yourself when you can’t stay home. Socially distance yourself and your pet from others as much as possible. While a mask is a good way to protect yourself from viral spread while in confined spaces with other people, note that your pet should never wear a mask.
You and your pet should only travel if you absolutely have to. You should not be traveling during peak times, nor when cases are increasing steadily, unless it is an absolute must.
What should I do if my pet tests positive for COVID-19?
It is not yet fully known how COVID-19 affects animals, but there have been some positive cases related to pets, mostly in cats and dogs. These cases likely occurred after close contact with someone who had the virus. If you have not been in contact with anyone with COVID-19 and are free of the virus yourself, it’s unlikely that your ESA will become infected.
Although the risk of transmission to your pet is low, there is still a chance that they could contract COVID, so it’s important to know what to do if this happens. The first step is isolating your ESA the same way you would yourself. Do not use any sort of sanitization or industrial cleaning methods on your pet, as it will not help rid them of the disease, and could even cause them to become ill.
It’s important to take precautions to ensure that your pet isn’t spreading the disease throughout your home, so the CDC recommends that you care for your pet in the same way you would a sick person. You will have to avoid as much contact as possible and designate a room in the house where they can isolate until their symptoms have ceased.
Of the animals that have contracted COVID-19, none have died, and the illness is said to be mild and easily treatable at home. Your veterinarian will likely determine the severity of the illness and the care needed to return your pet to optimal health.
Can pets spread COVID-19?
Although there isn’t much evidence to support that animals can spread COVID, some reports issued from the Netherlands stated that a group of people may have been infected with the virus on a mink farm. As it stands, the assumption is that animals contract the virus from humans and not the other way around.
Traveling during a global pandemic will pose risks, whether you’re flying with your ESA or not. However, maintaining the same levels of precaution for yourself and your pet will increase your chances of avoiding transmission and getting where you need to go with your health intact.