Pet Transportation Services: How Pet Owners Can Protect Their Precious Cargo While Traveling Across the Country

CHICAGO (WLS) — Pet transportation services are a popular way for people to move their dogs and cats around the country, but how do you know if your pets will be safe?

ABC 7’s I-Team has discovered that your precious cargo doesn’t always make it home.

“We miss her. And she doesn’t deserve that. I know some people say, ‘Oh, he’s just a dog,’ but he was a member of our family,” said Karen Locasio, who has moved to Chicago in May.

She left Anabelle, her beloved terrier-chihuahua mix, at her home in Phoenix, Arizona, not expecting that to be the last time she would see her.

“I was scared to do it anyway, but honestly I felt like we had no choice,” Locasio explained.

SEE ALSO | 3 dogs found safe, reunited with owner after dog daycare transport van stolen in Lakeview

Locasio was told by her airline that the temperatures were too high for Anabelle to carry as cargo, and that her dog was too big for the cabin.

She found Citizen Shipper, an online marketplace that connects customers with independent third-party shipping operators. One of these carriers was to deliver Anabelle from Phoenix to Chicago. A day into the journey, Karen learned that Anabelle had escaped.

“You’re not supposed to carry dogs if you’re not knowledgeable about animals, and why the hell would you leave my dog ​​in the middle of the desert at night? And then tell me the next day?” Locasio asked.

She filed a police report and searched tirelessly with the local humanitarian society, but Anabelle was not found.

“I just want my cat back,” Tejashree Devale said. She and her husband are devastated by what happened when they tried to ship their cats across the country.

In March 2020, they also used the Citizen Shipper website to book a third-party driver to take their two cats, Jack and Bean, from Virginia to San Jose, California.

“So I got this message saying, ‘I delivered your cats,'” Tejashree Devale said.

Despite receiving this message that the cats had been delivered, they were nowhere to be found. The Devales said they were waiting there at the house where the cats were supposed to be delivered.

Jack was found in a residential area of ​​Texas 43 days later. After a year and a half, Bean is still missing.

“The worst thing is that as customers we trust Citizen Shipper,” Amey Devale said.

The couple said Citizen Shipper refunded their initial booking fee and blocked the third-party driver’s account.

Citizen Shipper said the company itself is not involved in transporting animals, adding “..Carriers are not employees or contractors of CitizenShipper. They are independent operators.” and that the customer is responsible for selection and payment. drivers.

The company also says it does standard background checks and “we are continually improving our screening process by adding new checks.”

“It’s terrible,” Locasio said. “She never leaves me, she sleeps with me.”

Citizen Shipper refunded Locasio’s booking fee of $179 and she won a dispute through PayPal, recovering $500 from third-party shipping company, Pup Protectors. Pup Protectors did not respond to multiple emails, text messages and calls from the I-Team.

“She doesn’t deserve this because she didn’t do anything wrong. Other than putting her in the hands of inexperienced people who thought it was okay to leave my dog ​​there and not lift a finger to help find her,” Locasio told the I-Team.

Citizen Shipper’s Better Business Bureau registration has a B+. However, it has also responded to 32 now “closed” complaints over the past 12 months. Seven of these complaints related to missing or stolen pets or the treatment of pets.

The company says it has addressed all of the BBB’s complaints, adding that “…tens of thousands of pet owners use our platform each year to connect, vet and hire independent contract pet carriers.” . Resulting in countless successful transports.

“It’s like losing your own child,” Amey Devale said. “Pets are like your children, so we are lucky to have had one of our children back, but our second child is still there.”

When looking for a pet transportation service, you always have to dig deep. Look beyond the first online hits. Look for BBB reviews and try to hire a company that a friend or family member has had success with.

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