From Custom Strollers to RVs, Pets Are In The Driver’s Seat

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January 30, 2014

KOA NEWS SERVICE (January 2014) -

The first time Alison Wilson saw the little dog in its own custom-made “baby stroller,” all she could do was laugh.

“I was with a friend in a Florida restaurant when I saw this lady whiz by with her dog in a stroller,” she remembers. “I just looked away and laughed. I thought it was just so funny, in a very strange sort of way.”

A few days later, she couldn’t get that “pet stroller” out of mind. She realized there was a huge potential market for the stroller in Florida alone.

“I found one online and bought it so I could take my cats on walks,” she said. “Everyone I saw on the street wanted one.”

That was five years ago. Today, Wilson’s online store, Pet Stroller Depot, sells 40-50 units a week and she sees nowhere for the business to go but . . . to the dogs.

Recent surveys from the Outdoor Industry Association found 60 percent of “outdoor vacationers” now take their pets along on the trip. In fact, nearly 30 million American pet owners took the family pet along for the trip in 2013.

“You can’t find these custom pet strollers in pet stores yet. Right now, this is sort of a Florida phenomenon,” she said.

Wilson is right. After observing the crowds at three huge 2013-2014 camping and RVing winter shows in Hershey, PA; Pomona, CA; and Tampa, FL, only Tampa had RVers – a lot of them – pushing pets in strollers.

“It’s just crazy,” said Wilson. “We now have a double-decker model for two pets, and even a monogrammed one with your pet’s initials. There’s something for every pet.”

RV Manufacturers Pamper Pets, Too

The folks at Fleetwood RV, Inc. have joined the pampered pet movement by adding three very pet friendly motor coaches to their iconic Fleetwood RV line.

“All of our 2014 Fleetwood Excursion RVs have a pet window down at the bottom of the sidewall by the passenger seat,” said Jayne Fairley of Fleetwood. “We sold a lot of these RVs at the Tampa RV Super Show this year. Owners love that the window has a screen so pets can get nice fresh air while they are traveling down the highway.”

The special features don’t stop there. Fleetwood RV also added an auto generator start feature to their coaches that can give pet owners extra peace of mind when leaving pets alone in the RV. If the outside power pedestal fails, the on-board generator will automatically start and keep the rig at a comfortable temperature.

“We also have two special features in the Bounder 35K model,” Fairley said. “The RV has a flat dash that pets love to lie on while traveling, and there is a cabinet next to the sofa that is a perfect place for a litter box.”

The booth dinette table in the Bounder also comes off the wall, providing a perfect place for a portable dog kennel. “Those features make the Bounder one of the most popular motorhomes on the dog show circuit,” Fairley said.

“We also have built-in, pull out feeding bowls and a storage place for pet supplies in the dinette of the Fleetwood 33Q Storm,” she said. “A couple of times, I’ve even sold bunkhouse models, and the owners tell me they are going to use the space for their bird cages.”

If you’re interested in taking a look at a Fleetwood model, be sure to check with Lazydays RV, the largest Fleetwood dealer in North America, at www.lazydays.com.

Bonus: Click Here to view an informative infographic about pet travel trends!

Win A New Stroller For Your Four-Legged Friend

Pet Stroller Drawing

We will select a winner on Friday, February 14 and notify the lucky pet owner via email.

Here’s a great way to take your best friend along, wherever your travels take you. We’re giving away a brand new, special edition pet stroller from our friends at the Pet Stroller Depot.

You can take a look at all of Pet Stroller Depot’s stroller inventory HERE

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