It’s time to plan a trip! This typically exciting time for a family usually becomes bad news for one family member—the pet. We understand, whether you have a beloved family pet or an adored service animal, you want to take your furry friend along. A happy pet makes a happy owner and bringing your dog on vacation is preferable to a few nights in a kennel.
Let’s get to the bottom of it. Car rental vendors don’t initially include pet fees upon pickup. Rental car companies assess the damages when the car is returned to see if the vehicle needs cleaning. If the car is returned with obvious damage like odors and stains, the vendor will need to deep clean the car which comes with a $250 fee (before taxes) on average. This fee will be charged regardless if the animal is for service and support.
Why? Well, rental companies want to rent out your vehicle quickly after it’s returned. Anything that slows down that turnover, like a deep cleaning, will translate into a fee for the previous renter. This is the same way rental companies handle smoking. Vendors are mindful of their customers’ allergies and comfort so pet hair and strong odors put the car on hold from being used.
Rental Car Pet Policies
Since this is a common concern, pet policies are typically found on a rental company’s website. If you’re using a third party site, like AutoRentals.com, do some research on different companies’ pet policies on their personal websites before renting. Trips With Pets is a good online resource for pet-friendly rental companies—check it out here.
The common thread between all pet policies is to return the car clean. Some major vendors have more requirements. For example, Alamo and Enterprise only allows pets in their rentals if they’re kept in their crates; service animals are excluded from this rule. Companies with specific pet policies, like Budget, are open to forgiving damages (depending on severity) for service animals only. Other vendors, like Avis and Hertz, have no requirements other than to return the car in the same condition as you picked it up.
Can’t find the Pet Policy?
If you cannot find a company’s pet policy online DO NOT ASSUME it means there is no policy. If you are unsure, call your exact pickup branch and ask about their stance on pets. Make sure this is done before you book so you can prepare yourself and your pet for the trip. Also, if the rental company is not pet-tolerant then you have enough time to find another vendor for your needs.
In a Nutshell
To keep it simple, if a car is returned with an animal odor, pet hair, soil stains or other interior damages, you will be hit with a cleaning fee.