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5 Tips for Staying Safe and Sane While Traveling With Your Pet

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Our pets aren’t just pets, they’re our friends and family members, too. So sometimes, a family vacation isn't complete without them. Whether you're driving a couple hours or flying across the country, there are some important variables to consider when you travel with a pet. Travel can be especially stressful for them and, if you’re not prepared, that only makes the trip more stressful for everyone. Before you book your travel, keep these five tips in mind.


Before anything else, you want to make sure your pet travels safely, and that means heeding some basic precautions. For example, leaving your pet in the car can be life-threatening, especially when the weather heats up. The American Veterinary Medical Association estimates that hundreds of pets die from heat exhaustion every year. And at least one study, published in the Journal of the Louisiana State Medical Society, found that cracked windows make very little difference in how hazardous your car’s temperature is to your pet. Your best bet? Just don’t do it.

Dee Power, a travel blogger who frequently brings her two dogs along when she travels (and writes about their adventures), tells mental_floss it's important to prepare for the worst—your pet getting lost in an unfamiliar place. “Have your pet microchipped. Engrave your cell phone—not your home landline—on the back of their license tag,” she says. “Have a recent photo of your dog with you when you travel. That way if, heaven forbid, your dog gets away from you, the photo can be used for flyers.”

Make sure to write your pet’s name and identification on the carrier, too, including both your origin and destination addresses. This way, if your pet gets lost at any point during the journey, you’ll have both locations covered.


Just like people, pets can get carsick, airsick, or seasick. "If you know that your pet is nervous by nature, traveling can be extremely overwhelming,” veterinarian Dr. Carol Osborne tells mental_floss. “If your pet becomes motion sick, bring along some ginger cookies to help settle the stomach.”

While ginger is safe for dogs and cats and can help ease their motion sickness, you can check with your veterinarian for more powerful medications if you know your pet has a history of nausea while traveling. According to Veterinary Centers of America (VCA), some motion sickness and anti-anxiety medications need to be given days before your trip, so make sure you’re clear on the dosage requirements. VCA adds that it’s best to withhold food 12 hours before travel, as an empty stomach will help reduce nausea. They also suggest hanging a water bottle (like this one) from your pet’s carrier to keep them hydrated during the journey.


“If traveling to another state or by plane, you will need a health certificate from your vet 10 to 30 days prior to travel,” Osborne says. “Make sure his ID tags are up to date and legible.”

Regardless of whether or not you’re crossing state lines, you should make an appointment with your vet before any big trip. This way, he or she can confirm that your pet is healthy enough to travel and is up-to-date on vaccinations.

Depending on your destination, the state or country might have additional health or documentation requirements (this is particularly true for exotic pets, like reptiles or birds). The United States Department of Agriculture has a useful online tool to help you sort it all out.


Pet policies vary by airline, too. Make sure to research these policies thoroughly, including how much it will cost to fly with your pet, where they’ll have to stay during the flight, and whether there are any restrictions on how many pets you can travel with.

Here are the basic policies of a few popular airlines:

American Airlines: They charge $125 per carrier each way and allow small cats and dogs in the cabin of the aircraft. The combined weight limit of the pet and its carrier can’t be over 20 pounds. For the most part, only cats and dogs are allowed.

United Airlines: Cats, dogs, rabbits, and birds over 8 weeks old can travel in the cabin on most U.S. flights, and the cost is $125 each way.

Virgin America: They allow cats and dogs over 8 weeks old in the cabin for a fee of $100 each way. You’ll need a veterinary certificate that proves shots are up to date and verifies your pet’s date of birth.

Keep in mind, these are just the basics, and every airline has very specific, detailed requirements (down to how big the carrier can be), so always make sure to read the fine print and check with the airline before you travel. You don’t want to be caught off guard when you arrive at the airport.

Worried about a larger pet traveling in the luggage hold? Author and active pilot Patrick Smith says, “There’s a lot of misunderstanding with respect to how pets are transported in the luggage holds. The under-floor holds are always pressurized and heated. Usually there is an area of the hold designated specifically for pets. This tends to be the zone in which temperature is most easily regulated.”

Smith adds that pet owners should take comfort in knowing that it’s fairly straightforward to maintain a comfortable temperature during a flight, and the flight crew is always notified when there are live animals below.


As travel site Bring Fido points out, many airlines have a limit on how many pets can travel on each flight, so you may want to book your ticket sooner rather than later. And it's best to do so the old-fashioned way: over the phone. Bring Fido suggests calling the airline to confirm there’s room for your pet on board, then booking while you have them on the line.

You also want to get to the airport early. Airlines usually recommend arriving two hours before departure if you’re checking in with a pet. They also require you to check-in at the counter instead of curbside or at a self-service kiosk.

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25 Things You Didn’t Know You Could Recycle
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According to the EPA, Americans generate 254 million tons of waste each year. Here are a few things you may have been throwing out that, with a little effort, you can actually recycle.



Grandpa's choppers may hold $25 worth of recyclable metals, including gold, silver, and palladium. The Japan Denture Recycling Association is known to collect false teeth, remove and recycle the metals, and discard the rest of the denture (which is illegal to reuse). The program has donated all of its earnings to UNICEF.


Bundle of holiday string lights

Got burnt out holiday lights? The folks at will gladly take your old lights, shred them, and sort the remaining PVC, glass, and copper. Those raw materials are taken to another recycling center to be resurrected. (In 2011, the State of Minnesota collected and recycled around 100 tons of dead lights.)



The first step in recycling your toy is to send it to a specialty processing plant, where it's sterilized and sorted. There, all "mechanical devices" are salvaged, refurbished, and resold. Silicone and rubber toys, on the other hand, are "ground up, mixed with a binding agent, and remolded into new toys," according to the aptly titled website, Sex Toy Recycling. Metals, plastics, and other leftovers retire from the pleasure industry and are recycled into conventional products.


Hotel bathroom counter with cups, shampoo, and soap

Not all hotels throw out that half-used soap you left in the shower: Some send it to Clean the World. There, soap is soaked in a sanitizing solution, treated to a steam bath, and then tested for infections. Once deemed safe, the soap is distributed to less fortunate people across the globe. So stop stealing soap from hotels—you may be stealing from charity.



You don't need to dump your old box spring at the landfill. Equipped with special saws, mattress recycling factories can separate the wood, metal, foam, and cloth. The metal springs are magnetically removed, the wood is chipped, and the cloth and foam are shredded and baled. In its future life, your saggy mattress can become a summer dress or even wallpaper.



When you’re finished making French fries at home, it can be tempting to toss the spent frying oil down the drain. But you shouldn’t—approximately 47 percent of all sewer overflows are caused by fat and oil. There are a few curbside programs in the United States that accept used cooking oil, which may send the oil to a biodiesel plant that will transform it into fuel. To see if there’s a collection point near you, check this website.



The average baby soils 6000 diapers before being potty trained—that's one ton of diapers rotting in a landfill per child. But not all poo-packages have to suffer this fate. The company Knowaste collects and recycles dirty diapers at hospitals, nursing facilities, and public restrooms. After sanitizing the diaper with a solution, they mechanically separate the "organic matter" from the diaper's plastic, which is compressed into pellets and recycled into roof shingles. Meanwhile, paper pulp in diapers grows up to become wallpaper and shoe soles.

8. CDS


CDs are made of polycarbonate and won't decompose at a landfill. But if you send your discs to The CD Recycling Center, they'll shred them into a fine powder that will be later melted down into a plastic perfect for automotive and building materials—even pavement!



Send your beat-up sneaks to Nike Grind and you'll help build a running track. Nike's recycling facility rips apart worn shoes, separating the rubber, foam, and fabric. The rubber is melted down for running track surfaces, the foam is converted into tennis court cushioning, and the fabric is used to pad basketball court floorboards. So far, Nike has shredded more than 28 million pairs of shoes.



Why turn sheep poop into fertilizer or manure when you can make it into an air freshener? The folks at Creative Paper Wales do that, plus more—they can transform sheep poop into birthday cards, wedding invitations, bookmarks, and A4 paper! Sheep dung brims with processed cellulose fiber. The poo can be sterilized in a 420 degree pressure cooker, which separates the fiber from a smelly brew of liquid fertilizer, allowing the fiber pulp to be collected and blended with other recycled pulps, creating tree-free paper.



Is your room full of plastic bowling trophies from fifth grade? If the thrill of victory fades, you can recycle your old trophies at recycling centers like Lamb Awards. They'll break down your retired awards, melting them down or reusing them for new trophies.



If it weren't for legal complications, America's obsession with cosmetic surgery could solve its energy problem. In 2008, a Beverly Hills plastic surgeon lost his job when police caught him fueling his car with a biofuel created from his patients' liposuctioned fat. (Convicting him wasn't hard, since he advertised the substance online as "lipodiesel.") That's not the first time fat has powered transportation: In 2007, conservationist Peter Bethune used 2.5 gallons of human fat to fuel his eco-boat, Earthrace.



Foil is probably one of the most thrown away recyclable materials out there. (Americans throw away about 1.5 million tons of aluminum products every year, according to the EPA.) But foil is 100 percent aluminum, and as long as you thoroughly clean it of any food waste, you technically should be able to recycle it with your aluminum cans (but first check with your local recycling plant to ensure they’re equipped to process it; some aren’t).



Don't toss those stubby Crayolas! Instead, mail them to the National Crayon Recycle Program, which takes unloved, broken crayons to a better place: They're melted in a vat of wax, remade, and resold. So far, the program has saved more than 118,000 pounds of crayons.



When Fluffy bites the dust in Germany, you can memorialize your beloved pet by recycling her. In Germany, it's illegal to bury pets in public places. This leaves some pet owners in a bind when their furry friends die. A rendering plant near the town of Neustadt an der Weinstraße accepts deceased pets; animal fat is recycled into glycerin, which is used in cosmetics such as lip balm.



The EPA estimates that 11 million tons of shingles are disposed each year [PDF]. Most of them are made out of asphalt, which is why more than two dozen states pulverize the old shingles and recycle them into pavement. For every ton of shingles recycled, we save one barrel of oil.



You can—and should—properly dispose of expired prescription drugs. But what about unneeded pills that are still good? Some states let you donate unused drugs back to pharmacies. Some charities also accept leftover HIV medicine from Americans who have switched prescriptions, stopped medicating, or passed away. These drugs are shipped overseas and distributed to HIV victims around the world.



Fishing line is made from monofilament, a non-biodegradable plastic that you can't put in your everyday recycling bin. At Berkley Fishing, old fishing line is mixed with other recyclables (like milk cartons and plastic bottles) and transformed into fish-friendly habitats. So far, Berkley has saved and recycled more than 9 million miles of fishing line.



Your recycling center probably doesn't accept wine corks, but companies like Terracycle and Yemm & Hart will. They turn cork into flat sheets of tile, which you can use for flooring, walls, and veneer. Another company, ReCORK, has extended the life of over 4 million unloved corks by giving them to SOLE, a Canadian sandal maker.



Most pantyhose are made of nylon, a recyclable thermoplastic that takes more than 40 years to decompose. Companies like No Nonsense save your old stockings by grinding them down and transforming them into park benches, playground equipment, carpets, and even toys.



If you buy a plastic toothbrush from Preserve (which makes its toothbrushes from old Stonyfield Farms yogurt cups and other everyday items), it will take back your used toothbrush and give it a new life—this time as a piece of plastic lumber!



The company reBounces doesn’t really recycle tennis balls, it resurrects them. If you’ve got at least 200 balls sitting around, the company will send you a prepaid shipping label to help get the box on the road and repressurize the balls.



Most yoga mats are made from PVC, the same material in plumbing pipes, heavy-duty tarps, and rain boots. While many local yoga studios will accept well-loved mats and find them a new home, the company Sanuk has an appropriately squishy vision for each mat’s future: It will transform your old yoga mat into flip flops.



All governments have a way of dealing with old, worn money. (In 2016, the Indian government shredded old bills and turned them into hardboard.) But what about currency that is no longer legal tender? Ends up you can donate your old French francs, Spanish pesetas, or Dutch guilders to Parkinsons UK, who will recycle the old coins and banknotes.



All of the pet fur on your sweaters, your couches, and your carpet could help save the ocean from oil spills. Hair is excellent at sopping up oil from the environment (hairball booms were used to soak up oil from the 2010 BP Oil Spill), so non-profit organizations such as the San Francisco-based Matter of Trust will accept pet fur to make oil-absorbing mats of Fido's fuzz.

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Dogs Rescued After Hurricane Maria Are Available to Adopt in New York
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Dozens of dogs displaced by Hurricane Maria last month are now closer to having happy endings to their stories. As Mashable reports, 53 dogs flown out of Puerto Rico by The Sato Project have been put up for adoption in shelters around the U.S., with 28 of the rescues now available through a shelter in New York City.

The new batch of dogs looking for forever homes is in addition to the 60 dogs retrieved by The Sato Project earlier this month. According to the local animal rescue group, Puerto Rico was home to about 500,000 stray dogs before the historic storm made landfall in September. The animals being shuttled from the devastated island and into the U.S. via charter plane are a mix of feral dogs, abandoned dogs, and dogs that were surrendered to local shelters by families unable to care for them post-Maria.

The Sato Project, which worked to tackle Puerto Rico's stray dog problem before the disaster, wrote that in light of the storm they would be "mobilizing to provide supplies and support to our team on the ground in Puerto Rico, and to transport as many dogs as we can to safety in the coming days and weeks."

Aspiring pet owners looking to take in a four-legged survivor will have the best luck at the no-kill shelter Animal Haven in Manhattan's Lower East Side. There, dozens of dogs who made the trip from the U.S. territory are anxiously waiting to meet their new families. And if you don't live in the New York City area, you can check out The Sato Project's list of adoptable pets around the country.

Looking for ways to help Puerto Rico that don't involve adding a new member to the family? Here are some organizations doing recovery work on the island and ways you can support them.

[h/t Mashable]


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