Can you really make $10,000 a month driving animals from here to there?
The answer is yes if you have the time, dependable wheels and a good marketing plan, which may be nothing more than an online profile on a site that matches drivers with jobs. Experience helps, too.
Independent pet transportation is a growing side hustle as people buy pets, mostly dogs, in other cities and need to bring them home with no fur at all. Some pet carriers are hired to deliver pets to owners who have moved because air travel will not work.
Pet carriers are needed to move animals from shelters, stores or breeders to nurseries as well. It is especially needed when an animal comes from a shelter to kill, as it is a race against time to get the animal back before it is time to get it out.
Transporting pets is different from working in a kennel or nursery, because your co-workers are the four-legged passenger.
The money you will earn
The income you can make from pet transportation depends on a few things. Since independent carriers set their own hours of operation, it’s clear that you’ll earn more if you consistently cater to clients to build your experience, and are willing to travel further distances.
Those with a more relaxed approach earn more modestly. Other factors include the breed of the animal, any special needs, your level of experience, and the number of positive reviews.
The average active independent pet mover who completes 15 to 20 jobs per month can earn between $8,000 and $10,000 per month. If they can maintain this pace throughout the year, they can earn more than $100,000. Higher rates tend to come from metro areas of California and the Northeast.
Although an independent pet carrier can call their own picks about what jobs to do and when, it’s important to remember that vehicle maintenance, gas, pens or carriers for carrying animals, and other expenses may all be up to you.
Allocate funds from moving gigs into a separate account to pay expenses.
The rates are slightly higher for an independent carrier than for a driver who works at a shelter, groomer or veterinary clinic. Paying for these gigs ranges from $12 to $20 an hour, and you’ll likely still have to use your own car but may be reimbursed for gas and other expenses.
how to start
1. Set up your online profile
There are websites that cater to people who need to deliver their pets.
Similar to a dating site, clients will search through profiles and based on the information you put in (price, location, experience, etc.), they will then contact you about the details. Make sure everything is professional, without misspellings and include good photos – bonus points if there are animals in them.
Websites to get started include:
2. Get a certificate
Consider making your profile more attractive by getting some testimonials. This is not required, but it makes you stand out from other beginners. The American Red Cross presents a Certificate Course in Pet First Aid for $25 which only takes 35 minutes. Another highly desirable certification is animal care license From the US Department of Agriculture.
3. Be patient but stick with it
Don’t be discouraged if you don’t get that many reservations right away. The quality that dog owners and breeders commonly look for in a driver is expertise.
But according to CitizenShipper, after a few successful posts and five-star reviews, things tend to improve quickly. Within two months, previously troubled drivers find customers more receptive.
In the meantime, charge a little less than you will in the future to make up for the lack of experience.
Characteristics of a pet carrier
Although transporting pets does not require a certain class or fancy equipment other than a car, there is a bit more to it than just being an animal uber.
For anyone looking to get into the pet transportation business, CitizenShipper — the online marketplace that connects customers to carriers and moving service providers — recommends these three qualities:
Good people skills
This may come as a shock, as the job title alone means that you will mostly be working with animals. While this is true, the situation is like telling my teacher friends that the easiest part of the job is the kids – it’s the parents who often cause stress.
If you have a pet yourself, you can relate to someone who is particularly around someone who will be alone. In order to book jobs, you have to be very friendly, straightforward, and confident. Having the credentials to back up your confidence is also important. (see #2 above)
Ability to organize and plan ahead
One advantage of the job is that you don’t need to do it alone. If you’re closer to a type Z personality than an A, team up with a friend who writes lists for fun and is always 15 minutes early. You can join forces at work.
Come up with a cute name: The Furmobile or maybe Dr. Dolittle Animal Mover. Allied pet lines? You found the idea.
Pet transportation requires careful scheduling and direction. We all know how frustrating it can be when our food delivery is delayed or delivered in the wrong place. Now imagine if this was your best friend! Planning is also important when choosing routes to reduce fuel expenses and increase bottom line.
Unconditional love for animals
If you’ve made it this far, you probably already have this. Just keep in mind, though, that this job involves more than just cuddling in stops and taking a Brutus for walks.
If an animal has never been in a car before, or hates it, it may vomit or have nervous diarrhoea. They may even remove their fear of you and become quick, especially if you don’t have a pet of your own and you’re not used to these kinds of things, things can get messy.
However, the potential for $10,000 per month can make a little mess worth it.
Olivia Smith is a writer based in Washington, DC with experience in public and political advocacy work. She is a contributor to The Penny Hoarder.