Service Animal

Vacations often mean packing the family into a rental car. Cats and dogs count as family members for many of us, while other travelers may have service animals. Many of have fond memories of the first time a pet sees the beach or other vacation destination; we're happier with the pet around and the pet may be happier without a stay at a kennel! And some of us give our pets "privileges" in our personal cars.

It's understandable to want to take our favorite pets on the road. While the rental car companies don't assess pet fees as part of the rental, there can be fees if the vehicle is returned and requires cleaning. Renters have to understand that other travelers may have allergies and sensitivities to pets. In addition, the rental car company's goal is to make a returned rental car available for the next renter as quickly as possible. Pets closely follow smoking in rental vehicles as a way of incurring "cleaning fees". The cleaning fee with a rental car will also result in the cleaning of the renter's wallet; these fees are often fixed at *$250* and then could be subjected to local taxes!


It's hard to leave this cute AutoSlash dog home (seatbelted in a personal car).

Repeat after us: whether an animal is a pet or a service animal, the renter of the vehicle is responsible for any damage caused to the rental car or cleaning required after a rental.

Corporate Rental Car Policies on Pets

Most of the major rental car companies have published policies on pets; in cases where there's no published policy, it's important to call the rental car site for specific rules on pets.

Alamo, Enterprise and National all share common guidance on pets in rental cars. Pets must be crated -- service animals may stay outside a crate -- but the car must be returned cleaned.

Pets are allowed in rental vehicles. Customers need to keep pets crated and return their rental car in clean condition and free of pet hair to avoid cleaning/detailing fees. Service animals used by customers with disabilities are allowed in the vehicle without a carrier.

Avis simply tells renters to return cars in the same condition as rented.

Avis does not have a strict pet policy, but please be sure to return your rental car in clean condition and free of pet hair, etc. to avoid cleaning fees.

Budget has the most detailed policy for pets, stressing that service animals sometimes get a "pass" for shedding a limited amount of hair in a vehicle.

Housebroken pets are invited to travel in your rental car, just as they do in your personal car. Although Budget doesn't assess an extra fee for pets, pet owners will incur an additional charge for any damage caused by animals, or any special cleaning required as a result of shedding or accidents.

In some cases, our customers are disabled and require service animals. Budget embraces and supports our disabled customers, and generally we will waive the cleaning fee when the excessive dirt is primarily animal hair. If, however, the vehicle is returned with more than a tolerable amount of animal hair or other types of soil, the manager at the location may elect to impose a cleaning fee. In such cases, the location will take photographs of the excessive dirt to support the extra cleaning charge.

Hertz also expressly allows pets but reminds renters of conditions.

Domestic pets are allowed in Hertz vehicles (excessive pet hair, soiling or damage caused by animals will result in an extra cleaning charge).

Companies without Published Policies

Dollar, Payless, and Thrifty lack published policies but Dollar does have a "Dog-Friendly Travel Guide". An absence of a corporate policy doesn't mean acceptance; contact the exact pickup location for guidance well before departure; that will allow a renter to make alternate plans if necessary.

Closing Thoughts

Just remember, the rental car company plans to take a vehicle that's returned and make it available to the next renter quickly. A car that's soiled or damaged is going to be out of service longer than expected. If a pet's been kept in a carrier throughout the entire trip, avoiding extra charges is likely easy! If the pet's been exploring the vehicle while in transit, a renter might want to stop before returning the car to clean up any evidence. Some quick tips:

  • If the car smells like an animal upon return, a renter will be paying a cleaning fee.
  • If the seats are covered in fur upon return, a renter will be paying a cleaning fee.
  • If the pet or service animal has soiled the interior of the car, a renter will be paying a cleaning fee.
  • If the pet or service animal damages the interior of the car (such as tearing seats or eating seatbelts), a renter will be paying for the cost of repair.

Ready to hit the road, with or without the family pet? Click below to request a quote now!

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