Taking Dogs on the Spirit of Tasmania

Taking dogs on the Spirit of Tasmania especially when the dog is your beloved pet can be a daunting preposition. Sadly over the years there has been reports of dogs (and other animals) dying on the journey. Fortunately though there are many like us who have made the voyage to and from Tasmania with their dog and other pets without incident.

Our guide below takes you step by step through the entire process and answers questions such as how much is it to take a dog on the Spirit of Tasmania and can I leave my dog in my car on the Spirit of Tasmania?

Dogs and Which Pets Can Travel on the Spirit of Tasmania?

According to the Spirit of Tasmania website “dogs, cats, rabbits, guinea pigs, ferrets, some birds, chickens and ducks may travel on the Spirit of Tasmania”.  The website also provides a list of animals that cannot travel on the Spirit of Tasmania, if in doubt or you have any questions it is best to ring customer service.

Taking Your Dog The Spirit of Tasmania

Making The Booking

Booking an your dog (or allowed pet) onto the Spirit of Tasmania is easy using the online booking form. There is a section of the online form titled “Who’s Going” where all humans and dogs (pets) are included. Simply select your number of pets.

Further in completing the form you will need to select the number of kennels required. This will need to be one kennel per pet “unless the animal is a mother with pups or kittens.” It also states on the online booking form “if travelling with a pet, it is a requirement that your pet travels in a Spirit of Tasmania kennel” (this isn’t strictly true and we will discuss more about this below). What is more accurate is each dog or pet must be booked on the by paying for a kennel each (consider it booking them a seat). Currently each Spirit of Tasmania kennel costs $22 each way.

Requirements for Dogs

Biosecurity Tasmania, Department of Primary Industries, Parks, Water and Environment requires that any dog entering Tasmania must be treated with “praziquantel at a dose rate of 5 mg/kg body weight within 14 days before entry to Tasmania.” Evidence in the form of a letter or certificate from your vet, a statutory declaration from you as the owner, or the pill packet accompanied by the receipt will need to be provided.

As required, Chika (our dog) was taken to our local vet in NSW within the 14 days and was administered the praziquantel by our vet. The tablet given to Chika was massive and I mean the size of two big horse tablets. Thankfully Chika is motivated by food and took the tablet in two halves hidden in food. Chika had no side effects.

Sedation For Your Dog (An Option)

The option to sedate your dog maybe something to consider. It is not an option all dog owners will be comfortable with and for others like it us it is.

Our Ms Chika, bless her, is the sweetest dog but she is also an anxious dog. Her anxiety is mostly triggered by certain noises (too many to list here) and her fear of other dogs. When her anxieties are triggered she requires the trigger to either stop or be removed or to have us reassure her she is okay and remind her what behaviour is acceptable.

It is not possible to entirely control the environment for your dog while on the Spirit of Tasmania so if your dog too has an anxieties we would recommend speaking to your vet. Chika was prescribed a sedative which on our vets advice we trialled Chika a couple of days before we sailed. The result was the medication made her chilled and she laid around sleeping more than usual but she was not unresponsive and it did not turn her off her food.

On sailing day she was given the sedative 30 minutes before departure as directed by the vet. In all honesty, we cannot say for sure exactly how she went during the voyage however on collecting her at the end she was calm but very happy to see us.

Pre Sailing Phone Call

7 – 14 days prior to your sail date a representative from the Spirit of Tasmania will call you if you have booked for any pets. We were asked what breed of dog Chika is and were reminded about the vaccination requirements which we had completed by that time. It is also an opportunity to ask any questions you may have.

Check In and Boarding

It is now sailing day. At check in you will be asked to confirm verbally if your dog (or pet) is still travelling. A yellow sign to hang from your rear vision mirror will be provided.

Kennel Or Car

As discussed previously the requirement is that you book and pay for a kennel for each of your pets travelling on the Spirit of Tasmania. It is also clearly stated on the website that your dog (or pet) must travel in the kennel. However on boarding you will be given the options of your dog (pet) remaining in your vehicle or putting them in the kennels.

If you leave your dog (or pet) in your car then you will need to sign a Spirit of Tasmania indemnity form. This will be provided to you at check in.

It is important to note when deciding which option is best for your dog (or pet) is that you will not be permitted to check on them at any stage of the voyage. It is stated the staff will check on those put in the kennels to ensure they have water and are generally okay. This may offer you some reassurance.

Alternatively the option of leaving them in your car, a space your dog (or pet) is familiar with could be more reassuring. It is worth considering if your dog is able to control their toileting needs for that long and the weather ie if it may become too hot in the car during the journey.

Spirit of Tasmania Kennels

Kennels are on decks 3 and 5 of the ship and face out towards the vehicles parked on deck. The kennels are in stacked rows with the smaller kennels above the large ones. The side and back ‘walls’ are solid metal and the door at the front is wire with a slide lock. There is also a secure metal dish for water.

Kennels on the Spirit of Tasmania

It is important that your pet is put in a suitably sized kennel. Some owners put small dogs in the large kennels which can mean there isn’t enough suitable kennels for large dogs. There are signs saying pets will be moved to appropriate kennels if required, so ask staff if you need assistance.

We opted for the kennel for Chika and to help her feel more comfortable we put her blanket in with her.

Providing Food

Water should always be provided for your dog (or pet) whether they are travelling in your car or the kennels. Whether to provide food for the 10+ hour journey is something to consider. You have to make your own decision based on your dog’s needs, any medical conditions and so on.

Our decision was to not to provide Chika any food. She would have just eaten it all within minutes of boarding and she had been feed shortly before and it was unknown to us if she would suffer from seasickness.

Disembarking

To disembark the ship you will collect your dog (pet) from the kennels (if that is where you chose to leave them) and return to your vehicle. Then it is a matter of waiting until given the signal by staff to drive off. It is well signed where to drive.

On driving off the ship in Devonport, Tasmania we had the vet certificate ready but no one asked to see it. This may different at other times so be sure to have yours ready to ensure a quick disembarkation.

Travelling on the Spirit of Tasmania with Chika was fairly stress-free with all the pre planning we did including speaking to our vet and then making decision best for her. It was all worth it as Tasmania was fantastic destination to visit with your dog.

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