The local business owner has been running Petaxi for 10 years now, shuttling pets on appointments, watching them while owners are away and even helping them on their long-distance travels.
“If you don’t have time, if you don’t have a car or if you don’t have a driver, that’s what I’m here for,” Johnson said.
Busy animal owners often need help with simple, around-town tasks such as taking their pet to a veterinarian appointment or to the groomer.
For $10 each way, Johnson will get in his van with the “Petaxi” sign on top and take the animal to and fro. But beyond that, Johnson provides a service that most pet owners don’t think about needing. When it comes to interstate or even international travel, Johnson has been working with airports and shipping companies for many years learning the ins and outs of laws regarding the import and export of animals.
For example, he said, certain breeds of dog can’t fly during summer months. In checking out his expertise with airlines that fly in and out of Reno-Tahoe International Airport, United Airlines’ website said short-nosed breeds such as Shar-Peis, pugs, boxers and bulldogs can’t be transported as baggage or cargo between June 1 and Sept. 30 because of the temperatures.
Since there are only a few airlines that fly out of Reno that allow animals to travel as baggage or cargo, he often travels to Sacramento with animals to put them on a plane to their final destination — a service he will provide for $300 round trip. He also works with numerous pet and animal transport businesses around the country.
“It’s like putting a puzzle together,” said Janice Cipparrone, of Pet Express in San Francisco, about navigating the varying laws countries have about bringing animals in.
Cipparrone said she has worked with Johnson many times over the years to move animals between the Bay Area and northern Nevada. After figuring out the airline rules, she said, countries can have a wide variety of import rules, from basic health checkups and required vaccines to quarantining an animal to ensure they are not carrying diseases that don’t exist in the country.
Some countries, such as India and the Phillipines, have import fees to be paid. While the rules seem complex, she said, companies like hers and Johnson’s help people translate the rules.
“A lot of times countries may put out 10 pages that can be condensed to a couple of paragraphs,” she said.
Johnson will also work with pet owners to prep their pet for transport by figuring out if they need a crate or if they don’t get along with other animals. He also said many people will tranquilize their pet for travel, which can distort the animal’s sense of balance and when compounded with the change of air pressure in an airplane can cause the animal to fall and possibly break a leg. He also said that little precious cat or dog that is priceless to its owner is probably only worth a few hundred dollars to the airline in terms of insurance. Individuals, however, can buy as much insurance at they want for their pet.
“The person determines the value of a dog by the insurance they buy,” Johnson said.
For animals that want to stay home while the owner is away, Johnson will come do checkups at the homes or he can do a limited amount of boarding at his home at 110 Lofty View Drive. He has not had any formal training in animal handling, but he said he has learned a lot in his decade in business. He said he doesn’t do anything special with the animals, but he seems to have a way with them and his regulars love to come visit him.
Russ VanWyck, a Reno resident, uses Petaxi two or three times a month to board his miniature Australian shepherd Maya because he travels extensively for his work as a salesman for the mining industry.
“Our dog just runs to the door ready to go,” VanWyck said Wednesday by phone while on a business trip in Alaska. “(Maya) jumps on him like family.”
He also used Johnson’s service to transport a dog by air when the dog went to go live with a cousin. Johnson coordinated the flight from Sacramento, including the shots, health records and other paperwork.
“He’s good at what he does,” VanWyck said.
Contact Petaxi at 787-2222 or e-mail firstname.lastname@example.org.