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Long Ferry crossing with dog


pouyade

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Our 7 yr old spaniel has travelled happily to France on short ferry crossings, on Speedferries and by Tunnel at least 4 times a year since she was a year old. For our next visit, it suits us to use the Portsmouth - St Malo route but we are concerned as to how she would cope. I read that she would be able to go into kennels (on the Bretagne) rather than having to stay on the car but am still wondering whether it is a great idea.

Anyone used the kennel system or able to offer information on the kennel visiting arrangements? Does one end up later/ earlier embarking or disembarking when using the kennels? Do the dogs just wind each other up?

 

Thoughts welcome, by PM if you prefer.

Many thanks

 

Pouyade

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In my experience these days BF are not well organised for

managing pets.  Last time I travelled

with them I arrived at the port 1:30 before departure, was immediately waved

through to the loading area and they then refused to let me take my dogs out of

the car to relieve themselves before an 8 hr crossing.  By this time the dogs had been in the car

for quite a few hours and their officious people at the port were totally

unhelpful and unaware that dogs need to go to the toilet every now and again !!  (Fortunately, once we boarded the boat crew appreciated

the problems and the dogs had an exciting time finding loads of places to go to

the toiled on the boat (with BF’s boat staff permission).

My understanding is that the kennels are not used on channel

crossings but only on the trips to/from Spain. 

BF have told me about their kennels before but I have never been able to

use them on channel crossings.  However,

after my last experiences with BF I will never travel with them again with my

dogs.

If ferry companies are to be allowed to transport pets they

need to ensure their staff are aware of the needs of pets and that the staff

need to understand the word “helpful”, “cooperation”, etc.  In my experience BF fall far short of the

mark in this regard and should really not be allowed to take pets.

However, my experiences with other ferry companies is

totally different.  They seem to be able

to be helpful, provide facilities, let your dogs go to the loo, etc.  I’m sure there are some good BF staff when

it comes to pets (e.g. the boat crew in my above experience) but coming across

them seems a matter of chance – which is not good as, “catch the wrong ones” or

“catch them on a bad day” and your pet will suffer.

Ian

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I had a terrible experience with BF where the crossing was delayed ending up with the dog in the car for over 10 hours.  This amounted to cruelty and I was not allowed to see her.  They don't seem to be prepared to help but are happy to just take the money. I have not taken her since and think it is kinder to put her in kennels whilst i am away.

Georgina

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Two cross-channel ships are equipped with kennels, the Bretagne and the Pont Aven. Both are operated by Brittany Ferries, and are used on the St Malo route, though it's only the Bretagne in the summer season. The Pont Aven kennels are situated on the highest deck, I think it's No10, and it is possible to see the dogs at any time and walk them (around that deck only). On the Bretagne, the kennels are, I believe (though I could well be wrong) on the car deck level, so visits are subject to timetables.

Although this may not have been the case in the past, the kennels are used on the St Malo route as well as that to Santander. In fact when a ship with kennels is being used, company policy is that use of the kennels is compulsory for all dogs travelling (see http://www.brittany-ferries.co.uk/pet-friendly-holidays/taking-your-pet ).

Company policy is that dog owners can visit pets, even those carried in cars, on request, subject to the captain's discretion (other than on the Pont Aven of course where the kennels are available at all times). A few captains in the past were sometimes reluctant to grant this, but it seems to be less of a problem now. However most dogs seem perfectly happy to be left for the duration of the crossing - if not then there are mild sedatives and other tranquilising measures that your vet can prescribe (though I know this is controversial). 

You embark and disembark with all the other passengers, though obviously you need to drop off and collect the dog as part of the procedure. As to whether or not dogs wind each other up, that's purely down to the individual dogs. Most of the time they seem to get along fine, though it only takes one awkward or aggressive animal to mess things up

Many people believe that the worst part of taking a dog is the procedure at the French ports (at least those used by Brittany Ferries) where the dog has to be taken to a check in desk inside the terminal building rather than being checked at the kiosks, as in Britain. Although there were difficulties in the earlier years of the Passport sceme, as described by the other two respondents (and particularly on the P&O Le Havre and Cherbourg routes, by all accounts), things seem to have settled down to a much more dog-friendly regime now. After all you pay a fare now to take the dog, unlike before, so you are entitled to expect something in return.

 

 

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Hi Pouyade

We travelled here with our two dogs - one of 7 years and one of 17 years old - on an overnight sailing and we left the dogs in the car.  They had their own travel cages with bedding water and food in each, plus the window left open a crack.

The person in charge of the parking told us that he'd check  the dogs and contact our cabin if any problems during the sailing.

There were no problems and the dogs were happier in their beds than they would ever have been in a kennel.

Our doggie travel kit also included nappy changing mats, nappy sacs etc.  None were needed we're delighted to say.

Good luck

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[quote user="Will"]

Although there were difficulties in the earlier years of the Passport sceme, as described by the other two respondents (and particularly on the P&O Le Havre and Cherbourg routes, by all accounts), things seem to have settled down to a much more dog-friendly regime now. After all you pay a fare now to take the dog, unlike before, so you are entitled to expect something in return.

[/quote]

My "problems" with BF were last summer (2007).  Their behaviour really should mean they are stopped from carrying pets as they seem quite cpable of inhumane treatment of animals.

I will never again risk my pets on a BF boat.

Ian

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[quote user="Will"]

In fact when a ship with kennels is being used, company policy is that use of the kennels is compulsory for all dogs travelling (see http://www.brittany-ferries.co.uk/pet-friendly-holidays/taking-your-pet ).[/quote]

Although this is stated as company policy, and you have to opt for a kennel when booking, in practice we have always been given the choice of leaving the dog in the car, which we prefer, as she is more comfortable in familiar surroundings. It's important to get the dog used to being alone in the car, and to stop at Sutton Scotney services on the way to Portsmouth and at St Malo on the way back.

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Hi

We used to take our 3 dogs back and forth regularly on BF Portsmouth/Caen criossing and did not experience any problems.  They were far happier being left in the back of our Volvo estate with water etc. and did not suffer any problem.  It is of course essential that they are let out prior to check-in and then asap after landing.

We mostly took the overnight crossings so they slept happily.  They had always from puppies travelled in the vehicles and would choose to stay in the back with the tailgate up evebn when at home.

Jekyll

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Thanks for all the comments.  She has been across Portsmouth - Caen a couple of times without a problem, but the St Malo route, particularly if one is loaded early and/or disembarked late is somewhat longer, without any delays!!  I certainly would not relish arriving back at the car to a little ‘accidental present’!

 

As coincidence would have it, my husband’s boss has changed the work schedule again (3 times in 5 days) so we may now be able to revert to the dates we wanted and thereby use the tunnel or a short crossing, which suits us better generally.  If anyone sees a ‘dead to the world’ black cocker spaniel, in a Previa, at a service station, with a middle aged owner trying to persuade her to leave it for a pee, that’ll be us doing the 12 hour jaunt to Charente-Maritime.

 

Can’t wait! [:)]

 

Pouyade

 

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Just a thought; had you ever considered using LD Lines from Dieppe to Newhaven? The crossing is only 4 hours and our little westie has done it several times and seems to be quite happy. They are very efficient when it comes to Pet passports and in our expeience have always been helpful. We too live in dept 17 and find the drive to Dieppe doesnt really take a lot longer. Also LD are a lot cheaper!

 

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I've travelled on the Portsmouth-St Malo route with the dog in ferry kennels and in the car.  I now prefer keeping our dog in the car, as he is familiar with it.

The kennels can be distressing.  The Pont Aven (used in the winter on the St Malo crossing and in the summer on the Santander crossing) kennels are right up on a windy top deck, miles from anywhere.  I visited the dog during the night and again early morning and he wasn't interesting in 'doing the biz' (the deck is cold metal) and so it was a waste of time.  He hated the cage and so did all the other dogs there.  Upon disembarkation, I had to go back up to the deck as well as sort out 4 children and the car.  Travelling with the dog down to the car deck, stopping him from attacking other dogs, was hard work.  I was the last car off and well and truly frazzled.

No, everytime from now on, I'll leave him in the car.

Another grouse about BF - there's nowhere to walk dogs at Portsmouth or St Malo.

 

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