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English Setter puppies.

During COVID-19, we have seen many changes and are adjusting to our “new normal” as many work from home.   

Many families have decided that while “safer at home” is in effect, they will get a new dog or puppy. They have more time to spend with the new addition and complete house training and other basic training.  

But with many travel restrictions in place, it might be difficult for your puppy buyers to get their puppies, especially those who live long distances away. 

The major airlines in the United States stopped all un-escorted pet transportation on March 25.  That means you cannot ship a dog or puppy by air cargo during COVID-19.  Puppy buyers must be able and willing to travel to get their puppy and fly it home in the cabin with them.  

Many breeders, especially those of rarer breeds, often sell puppies to owners who do not live near them. They might call on their network of dog fancier colleagues for help. Many professional dog show handlers are out of work with the cancellations of most shows in the country. Handlers are experienced with transporting dogs and own vehicles equipped for traveling with multiple canines, and you could reimburse them for their effort. You might also create a network of breeder friends who live across the country to make a “chain” of transportation to get puppies to their new homes.  

In addition, there are professional canine transport services that puppy buyers can hire to get their puppies home.  

Commonly Asked Questions

The current situation raises a new set of questions for puppy buyers. Here are some Q&A to help breeders answer questions from their customers: 

Q: Is it safe for me to travel to get my new pet?  

A: That all depends on your state guidelines, your stay at home situation, and if you feel you can follow all guidelines to make the experience safe for everyone. 

Q: Are there guidelines that breeders should be following when I pick up my pet 

A: Your breeder should be using caution and practicing social distancing during pick up.  These are suggested breeder guidelines from AKC: Guidelines

Q: What should I look for in a pet transportation company and how do I know if they are safe for my new pet? 

A: Make sure any “pet transportation company” or “puppy nanny” has a current registration certificate with the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) Animal and Plant Health Inspection Service (APHIS).  USDA APHIS is the oversite agency for the transportation of dogs, puppies, kittens, and cats and was established by the Animal Welfare Act in 1966. 

 Go to USDA and input the “license/registration type as Carrier and your transporters “certificate number” and then search.  Make certain the certificate is “active” and check their inspection reports.   

There are many un-registered and un-regulated transportation companies, so be careful with the safety of your new pet.  Many will tell you they don’t need to be registered.  The federal definition of a transporter is a person with a commercial business that moves animals from one location to another. They must be considered a transporter under the Animal Welfare Act and be registered with USDA. 

National Sibling Day

Q: What are some guidelines a USDA APHIS registered transporter or nanny must follow 

  1. Your pet must be transported in a climate and temperaturecontrolled vehicle. 
  2. All animals must be in an appropriately sized and structurally sound carrier with no sharp points, edges or protrusions that could injure the animal. (You may have to provide).  If the carrier has a rubbercoated wire bottom or resting platform, no part of the animals can pass through that or any part of the enclosure. The carrier must also have a leak-proof bottom or a removable, leak-proof tray. 
  3. All enclosures must be securely fastened in place. 
  4. The puppy must be able to be easily and quickly removed from the enclosure in case of an emergency. 
  5. The transporter must stop every four hours to check on your pup and provide it with fresh food and water.  Many transporters provide fresh food and water continually during transportation. 
  6. Proper ventilation is required and is described in detail in the regulations. 
  7. Nothing may be stacked near or on top of a carrier that could spill onto the carrier or on the pet. 
  8. Any cleaning or other materials used in or on the enclosure must be nontoxic to animals. 
  9. All carriers must be properly cleaned and sanitized before each use.    
  10. All paperwork disclosing the seller, shipper and receiver must accompany the puppy. 
  11. All USDA APHIS transporters must require a “health certificate.”  The certificate must be signed by an accredited veterinarian after examining the puppy and determining that it is free of infectious diseases and satisfies all import requirements of the receiving state. Check with your veterinarian to assure that they are still offering routine services, including issuing health certificates.  
  12. Puppies may not be transported before the age of 8 weeks. 

Q: Can I get my pet delivered right to my front door? 

A: Some transportation companies or puppy nannies will deliver to your door, but it will cost extra.  Most will meet you at a set location.  Expect that you may have to drive a few hours and that others may be picking up their new arrivalsso be patient and remember your social distancing. These are suggested breeder guidelines from AKC on keeping puppy buyers safe when picking their puppiesGuidelines 

Q: What if my pet is lost or stolen or something happens to it during transport?  

A: Make sure the transporter is registered, has a valid license and insurance, and is bonded. There are a lot of good people out there who are just trying to earn an honest dollar.  Transporting your precious cargo is not an easy task, but be safe and check registrations, references and reviews.  You can do this by going to the USDA APHIS site and/or the Better Business Bureau (BBB) and look up Pet Transport Flight/Ground Services. You also can check reviews via Google or Facebook.   See what others say about the transportation company you have chosen before the puppy gets in a vehicle. 


Stacy Mason is a Senior Breeder Relations Field Representative for the American Kennel Club.  

The AKC is here to help dog owners adapt to the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic. Find answers to all your coronavirus concerns, plus at-home activity ideas, training tips, educational resources, and more at our ‘Coping With Coronavirus COVID-19′ hub.

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