Travel Nursing Pets
Travel Nursing and Pets can be a challenging situation. Many people these days view pets as part of their family. I have worked with peers who refer to their pets as their children. They buy them special treats. They even buy them Christmas and birthday presents. So, when you start looking at travel nursing and you are a pet owner it may be easy to get the impression that pets and traveling nursing don't mix.
Not all pets adapt readily to moving every few weeks. Cats are notorious for not traveling well in cars. Dogs are often the main subject in stories of trashed apartments and ripped up upholstery. Additional challenges may occur if your travel agency cannot find a housing situation where pets are allowed. The last thing you really want to do is leave your beloved pet with a well intentioned friend or relative. After all you are the one who rescued her from the pound. You know that Aunt Tizzie won't buy the special food because it costs $2 more and Walmart doesn't carry it. Aunt Tizzie probably doesn't even know what a Pet Smart is. :)
Don't give up on travel nursing so easily. There are solutions to traveling with a pet. Ask any show pet owner or military person and they will tell you they have solved most of the problems with traveling and living with pets. It's not as easy as traveling with stuffed animals. And if you really want to get the cold sweats talk to your friends with children about traveling and moving frequently with small children. :)
The first thing to assess is your pets temperament. Some pets adapt well to change. Others are definitely "high strung". It's not a show stopper if your pet is prone to separation anxiety or acts out when change occurs. But, it does mean you may need to seek professional help. Dogs are natural born pack animals. They will follow the leader once they understand who the leader is.
If you are not the leader in your home then you really need to watch a few episodes of "The Dog Whisperer" . Cesar Milan has shown dog owners how to fix problems with pets that were considered to be impossible to train.
Cats can also be assisted with behavioral methods. This is not an easy fix. You have to be committed to spend the time and the effort to make sure your pet has a smooth transition to a new travel assignment as often as every 13 weeks. Other things you can do to assist your beloved pet is to consult a veterinarian to see if they recommend medications to assist with travel. Some cats become so car sick that medication is the only way to give them a reasonably comfortable trip.
Once you have solved the issue about transition to a new location there is always the challenge of housing. Many apartment complexes allow pets. But they charge an extra fee for the pet. Pet fees can be a onetime deposit, a onetime deposit plus a monthly rental charge, or just an extra rental charge each month. Your travel agency may not cover the additional cost of housing your pet. But, be sure to ask when you are establishing the terms of the contract. After all, they might say yes.
The fees and charges for pets are variable. A good rule of thumb is to budget $250 for a deposit and expect to pay $50 a month for a small pet and $75 per month for a large pet over 40-50 pounds. Sometimes your agency will give you a subsidy in lieu of housing when you travel with a pet. They can assist you with finding a pet friendly apartment complex or housing situation but prefer not to be the contracted agent for the lease. This isn't because they don't like pets. It's because they don't want to be legally liable for any damages your pet might cause. In this situation you will pay the rent and be reimbursed a monthly housing allowance. You can negotiate housing allowances. One advantage to housing allowances is they usually are not taxable if they don't exceed the amount you are paying for rent. Disclaimer: I am not a tax professional. You should be sure to consult a professional for any legal or tax issues.
One solution to the housing issue and the difficulty adapting to a new home every few weeks is to travel to all your assignments in a travel trailer or an RV. Many people who travel a large part of the time for work or retirement reasons have adapted to having a house on wheels. The advantages to a beloved pet are obvious. No matter where you go you are always in the same comfortable and familiar environment indoors. This makes the transition to new places easier for you and your pets. The packing required when you accept a new travel nursing assignment is minimal. Just make sure things aren't going to fly around. Unplug the sewer and the power. Hook up the travel trailer to the truck if you are a travel trailer person. Turn the key in the ignition and drive to the next assignment. :)
In summary, the myth that pets and travel nursing don't mix isn't totally true. Traveling with a pet does add some extra challenges to your journey but having your pet with you does give you someone to share the journey with.