10 Tips for Bringing Your Pet on Locum Tenens Assignments

Traveling Pet Staff Care

Locum tenens assignments can be a great way to gain new work experience, see the country, get a fresh perspective and earn great compensation. You might think, however, that locum tenens travel isn’t possible for pet owners. 

Fortunately, you would be wrong. 

The recruiters at Staff Care estimate that between 10 and 15 percent of providers on locum tenens assignments take a pet along with them. If you are a pet owner who yearns to travel, the following tips can help you and your pet make a smooth transition to the locum tenens lifestyle. 

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10 Tips for Locum Tenens Traveling with Pets

1. Communicate with your recruiter early in the process 

If you are traveling with a cat, dog or other type of pet, it is important that your recruiter knows up front in order to help find pet-friendly accommodations. The size and breed of your dog can also be important, as some hotels and corporate condos have restrictions. Pet deposits may also be required. If you have an unusual pet, or your pet has an unusual need, let your recruiter know and he or she will work with you to find a locum assignment that works for both of you.

2. Consider the age of your animal

“I am in touch with a couple who is interested in locum tenens travel, but they have an elderly dog and have decided that travel would be too stressful for him, so they will wait to take an assignment,” said Michael Chatham, senior manager of anesthesia recruiting for Staff Care. 

But elderly pets aren’t the only ones that might need more consideration. 

Jacob Leal, recruiting consultant on the anesthesia team for Staff Care, advises not traveling with a puppy or an animal that is new to you. “You need some time to get to know the animal and train it before taking it through multiple transitions and having it live in homes that aren’t your own. I had a locum traveler who, knowing they were going to travel, got a dog and had sometime train it.” 

3. Consider your pet’s personality and travel history

No one knows your pet better than you do. Will your animal be okay left home alone while you are at work, or do you need to find a doggy daycare in the town of your locum tenens assignment? Will your pet need some medication to overcome anxiety on the trip? 

If your pet has never traveled in the car before, do a few shorter practice trips to see how the animal tolerates the car and other variables of traveling. 

4. Don’t automatically rule out unusual pets

“Most of our providers travel with dogs, some with cats, but I’ve had a couple travelers who take show horses on assignments,” stated Chatham. “These horses aren’t just pets, they are investments.” 

“We are glad to work with providers to find assignments in locations that have needed services for their pets—from doggy daycare to reputable stables,” he added. 

5. Consider your mode of travel

Many airlines are placing more restrictions on traveling with pets, so you’ll want to research both the costs and the restrictions of air travel. If it isn’t feasible to fly with your pet, you can work with your recruiter to find assignments that are within a reasonable driving distance. While this will rule out Hawaii, you are only limited by how much time you and your pet are willing to spend in the car. 

RELATED: Locum Travel Guide: Traveling & Flying with Pets

6. Return home for visits

Some locum tenens travelers find it beneficial to return home between assignments with their animals, while others who leave pets at home make time for extended visits. 

“One of the providers I work with is based in Alaska and has a macaw. It is just too expensive and complicated for her to take the bird on flights. So instead she takes a couple weeks off between every assignment and travels home to check in with her bird,” said Leal. 

7. Plan your road trip ahead of time 

If you are driving to your locum tenens assignment, the AAA Traveling with your Pet website allows you to search for pet-friendly hotels, campgrounds, restaurants and other attractions. It also offers a searchable database of dog parks, national public lands that allow pets on leashes and emergency veterinary clinics. 

Specialty websites and stand-alone apps like BringFido can also help in planning your journey. 

8. Keep your pet safe while driving

When traveling with pets, the AAA recommends that your pet be restrained in the back seat for your safety and theirs. Airbags can be lethal to pets, and a pet underfoot can cause a car accident. 

Make sure you pet is equipped with an ID tag with your cellphone and a microchip in case of escape. Stop every two hours for a stretch and potty break. To avoid car sickness, never feed a pet in a moving vehicle. And NEVER leave an animal in a parked car—pets are at risk of being stolen, and even a few minutes in the summer heat can be devastating. 

9. Don’t underestimate the value of a travel companion

Being in a new place and making new friends can be challenging. Traveling with pets can ease the transition and help you to look forward to arriving home after your shift. Plus, dog parks can be great places to meet like-minded animal lovers. 

“Having a pet with you on an assignment can make your life more normal and comforting,” noted Leal. 

10. Work with a pet-friendly locum tenens agency

Your recruiters and housing specialists should be understanding of how important your pet is to you, and willing to make arrangements that can accommodate your best friend. 

“Pets are like family. For many of the providers I work with they would no sooner leave their pet than leave their child,” added Chatham. “That is why Staff Care is a pet-friendly company.” 

Chatham encourages potential locum tenens travelers that where there is a will, there is a way. “Don’t let taking a pet be an obstacle. It needs to be part of your decision, but don’t let it be a deal-breaker. There are some things that need to be navigated, but it can be done.” 

STAFF CARE offers free placement services for our locum tenens providers, including custom job searches and career consultation, housing, liability insurance, privileging and licensing assistance. CONTACT our recruitment team to learn more.

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