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The Pros and Cons of Taking Your Pet on Locum Assignments

By Melissa Wirkus Hagstrom, contributor 

Taking your career on the road with locum tenens assignments is an excellent way to expand your scope of practice and see the country. If you have your four-legged best friend in tow, the experience can become even more memorable.

While not all locum tenens assignments involve leaving your current home, for those that do, there are a few important things to keep in mind if you are considering taking a pet on your travel assignment.

THE PROS: Locum Tenens and Pets on Assignment

Pets keep you company. Having a pet means constant companionship, and this is even more beneficial when you are traveling away from home for a locum tenens assignment. A warm greeting from your pet at the end of a long day, in a new city, can be invaluable and promote a sense of safety and security. For many people, spending time with their pet on a daily basis can help relieve stress and provide other benefits for their mental and physical health.

Locums who travel with their spouse or other family members will also notice that having the family pet along helps everyone feel more comfortable and adjust more easily in their new surroundings.

They will help establish a routine and expose you to things outside of work. Your schedule on assignment may involve long hours at the hospital or clinic, but for locum tenens and their pets, there are many ways to implement some healthy work/life balance. For instance, taking your dog for walks around your new neighborhood or to the local dog park can be a great way to get some exercise, meet new friends and get to know your community.

If you have a unique pet or an animal of a specific breed, a quick search online can help you find groups catered to your type of pet, and most will have a presence in major cities., for instance, has several meetup groups by pet type or breed. Getting involved with other pet owners or even rescue groups is an excellent way to network and meet new people while you are on a locum tenens travel assignment.

Your recruiter will help with the logistics.
If you are looking for locum tenens assignments with Locum Leaders for you and your pet, you are in luck. As long as you let your recruiter know your plans early in the process, he or she can help make your beloved pet a seamless part of your locum tenens experience. Your recruiter will help you:


  • Make travel arrangements that will be comfortable for you and your pet
  • Find pet-friendly housing (note that a pet deposit may be required)
  • Provide tips on keeping your pet safe when traveling

Choosing a pet-friendly locum tenens agency upfront ensures that there won’t be any issues when you elect to take your next travel assignment with a pet.

THE CONS: Locum Tenens and Pets on Assignment

There are more details to coordinate with your move. Even with your recruiter’s help, if you choose to take your pet on a locum travel assignment, there are a lot of details to handle, such as: transporting your pet and all of their bedding, toys and equipment; finding a new vet; arranging for a pet sitter or daycare, if necessary; and preparing your pet for travel.

Some of these travel preparations should include getting the pet’s vaccinations up to date, making sure they have a microchip and ID tags with current information, and planning for pet-friendly hotels and restaurants along the route. If you are considering air travel for your pet, there are often special accommodations that must be made with the airlines.

The American Veterinary Medical Association (AVMA) offers a number of tips and answers common questions about traveling with your pet.

The animal may be too old, or has health issues. You never want to travel with a pet that is too old or simply not in the right state of health, as traveling can naturally cause added stress. Be sure to get your pet a complete medical examination and talk to your veterinarian if you are considering taking the pet on a locum travel assignment.

According to the AVMA, “Many states require an up-to-date Certificate of Veterinary Inspection from a licensed, accredited veterinarian when traveling. Your pet must be examined by a veterinarian in order for a health certificate to be issued. This certificate basically indicates your pet is healthy to travel and is not showing signs of a disease that could be passed to other animals or to people.”

Your pet’s temperament may not accommodate travel assignments well. If your pet gets anxious in a car or other mode of transportation, it may just require a sedative prescribed by your vet to help them get from here to there. But if your pet gets stressed out by major changes, or may not do well locked up in an apartment for hours on end, you may want to look at other options. For instance, you could consider leaving your pet with family or friends while you’re away, or finding a reputable pet sitter or doggy daycare service if they do accompany you on assignment.

You can also ask your locum tenens recruiter for assignments that keep you close to home, allowing you to leave your pets in their home environment while giving you a reasonable commute.

FOR MORE INFORMATION on locum tenens assignments—with or without pets— contact a recruiter at Locum Leaders today.