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We bought a zoo!

Transporting pets – especially if there are more than two – cross country comes with its own challenges. The blog outlines how a small or medium sized bus may be customised to transport animals, fit in crates and boxes, store their food and water supplies, have secure and non-slip floors, etc.

In the 2011 film, We Bought A Zoo , the protagonist buys a large family home that abuts a defunct national park. Imagine if the guy had to travel anywhere with his large animal family in tow – maybe that could be the sequel to this film!

This exact thought may have crossed your mind if you have a large family of pets at home. It has been years since you and your family could enjoy an outing with your pets in tow – but what if you were able to customise an old used bus which is for sale so that your animals could join you on your next cross country jaunt?

Transporting animals – anything but child’s play

The legal framework for the transport of animals is quite clear – there are definite rules to follow in case you wish to transport animals by sea, land, air, rail or inland waterway. The rules clearly stipulate whether you may or may not transport animals under certain conditions, the time intervals in which to feed and water them, whether animals need to be confined to a crate or muzzled during transport, etc.

It is worth your while to follow the rules outlined even in case you are transporting your pets by a private used bus that you will customise yourself. In case you are thinking of hiring a private bus for the tour, do check ahead about their policy on transporting animals.

More to the point, do assess your pets’ disposition to long distance travel. Are your pets likely to be afraid of strange noises or not having access to you as you drive? Do they tire quickly, thus necessitating many stops along the way? Do they have any health issues that may be exacerbated by long travel? Do get your pets checked by the vet and make the trip only if each of them is given a health certificate and clean bill of health by a certified professional.

Customise your bus to transport your pets

* Start by assessing how big the bus needs to be. This depends on the numbers of animals you are transporting, as also how big or small they are. If its’s just a couple of dogs or cats (or both), a small used bus will do.

* You will need to review how much space each pet needs, and where you will fit the crates. Measure the crate dimensions and how much space each of them needs inside the bus. It is a good idea to align the crates in the bus corners first, then pack the rest along the sides (if there are more than two or three animals). Take a lengthwise measurement of the bus, then sketch a scaled diagram of how you can fit the crates in.

* Now remove all the seats from the bus, taking care to leave at least four for the family members to sit on.

* Have the crates fixed securely to the floors and sides of the bus. Animals get antsy inside closed environs and especially over bumpy terrain, so pad each crate with pillows to prevent your pets from getting hurt. Get the crates customised by professional companies only.

* You will need enough storage space for the pets’ food supplies, water bowls, leashes, toys, etc. These are necessary when you make stops to feed and water them.

* Ensure that there is sufficient air conditioning in the pet area of the bus – this is important in case you need to stop at a motel for the night, and you have to leave your pets in the bus if the facility does not allow the crates to be placed in a common area for animals. But you will have to check on them periodically every two hours to ensure that they are comfortable and not scrabbling to get out.