How do I approach the subject of pets?

Pets are in many ways the perfect boating companion. After all, they will obey your every command, all the while worshiping at your feet and showering you with affection.

However, while our four-footed crewmates, are often a big part of the boating experience they can be a common source of conflict between boating partners.

After all, while some may believe their pet is a member of the family and couldn’t imagine spending a day on the water without their furry friend; your partner may not agree.

Allowing pets onto your vessel could potentially increase general cleaning and upkeep costs. Worse yet there are a large percentage of people who are allergic to various types of pet dander and your partner might be one of those individuals.

However, the biggest potential downside to allowing pets on your vessel is the potential of a lawsuit in the event a pet injures a child, someone else, or someone else’s pet. Depending on how your partnership is structured the responsibilities of these unfortunate events could be passed on to all the owners.

While you may be a responsible owner with control over your animal’s behavior, there’s no guarantee everyone else is that responsible.

However, as with all things in life, the key to success is open and honest communication with your partners.

That being said, if there is a health issue for one of the partners, you should forgo the idea of boating with your pet all together…no matter how important your pet is to you, there is no justification for endangering someone’s health.

If your partners are open to the idea of allowing pets on board, you should also be willing to consider a compromise as well. Some suggestions for keeping peace is to establish a Pet Free Zone (such as the cabin) or No Overnighting of pets…liability waiver

Once your canine crewmate is safely aboard, there are a few other things you should keep in mind:

  • Food and Water: Tend to their basic needs for fresh water, food and walks. Pets need access to drinking water at least three times a day, or more if the weather is hot. Dogs should also be walked ashore at least twice a day.
  • Flotation devices: Any dog or cat can fall overboard when you’re not looking, and a harness or flotation vest with a lifting strap is recommended.
  • Heat: Just like the inside of a car on a hot day, a boat can become to hot for a pet. Heat stroke is a real danger, a pet can quickly be cooled off if doused with seawater, or sprayed with a dockside hose to cool him off quickly.
  • Crawl Spaces: Some animals love to hide in small areas of your boat. Be careful that your pet is not napping in a dangerous area.

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