Wednesday, August 28, 2013

Can you take your Dog on Public Transportation?

By Langley Cornwell

As the economy continues to evolve, there have been some notable changes to the transportation industry. More and more Americans are switching to smaller cars, and sales of hybrid automobiles are on a steep upward trend. Families that used to be two-car households are figuring out creative ways to drop down to one car and eliminate the inflated cost of gasoline, property taxes, maintenance, etc. for that second car.

As a response, public transportation is taking on a more important role in the new American lifestyle. We have a long way to go to catch up with many of the countries in the European Union, but I’ve seen giant strides even in the small southern town where I live now.

Fortunately, some trains, buses, trolleys and light rails now allow pets. Be aware, however, that there are still many restrictions for this method of transportation when your travel companion walks on four legs. At this time, people that plan to have their pet accompany them must avoid Amtrak and Greyhound; neither carrier allows animals on its trains and buses.

Other than avoiding Amtrak and Greyhound, there are no standard guidelines to follow when determining whether a certain train, trolley or light rail system will allow pets and, if they do, what their rules and regulations are. Before making your plans, check for updates and new information regarding which carrier in your area of travel allows pets and what restrictions apply.

If you’ve determined that pets are allowed to travel with you on public transportation, make sure you both adhere to good travel etiquette. Here are some tips:

Traveling with your dog by bus or taxi

Someone dressed in a black suit may not want to go to work adorned with Samoyed hair. Therefore, when Fido is along for the ride, keep him on a lead at all times and keep him by your feet. Do not allow him to sit on the upholstered seats.

Traveling with your dog by train

Some rail carriers will allow two dogs to travel for free when accompanied by one person. Ask about pricing when you make reservations.

• Before you board the train, be sure your dog has relieved himself.

• For long journeys, take fresh water and a supply of high quality dog food, like CANIDAE’s Grain Free Pure Elements.

• Make sure your dog is on his lead at all times and – as with busses or taxis – do not let him sit on the train seats.

• If another passenger has a problem with your dog being on the train, you may be asked to move to another section.

• According to the dog travel advice on Your Dog Holidays, dogs are allowed to travel free in UK on the London Underground, but they must be carried on escalators.

Traveling with your dog by ferry

There are a lot of barrier islands where I live, and dogs often travel by ferry. To be sure, always ask the company about its policy towards pets before booking. Most ferries accept dogs as long as they stay with their owners in the car. They simply load in the car and stay in the vehicle; they are usually not welcomed on the passenger deck during the voyage.

Regardless of company policy, the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) allows your service animal to accompany you to any public place. Therefore, service animals must be allowed to ride on all manner of public transportation, including taxis. Since service animals are considered workers, not pets, more restrictions apply to them. They are usually required to ride at their owner’s feet during travel and there is no additional charge for them. For the time being, therapy dogs and comfort/support animals are not classified as service animals.

Recently, restrictions against pets traveling with their owners on public transportation systems were amended in some parts of the United States. After Hurricane Katrina, the U.S. government’s Homeland Security realized that some people refused mandatory evacuation on public buses because they could not take their animals with them. Since that time, rules have been established to allow some pets to use public transportation and receive care during emergencies.

Have you ever taken your dog on public transportation? If so, what was your experience like?

Top photo by turismotorino
Bottom photo by prettyinprint

Read more articles by Langley Cornwell

1 comment:

  1. Can I add that in the UK, all the individual train companies will accept dogs with no restrictions like cages etc/cats with provisions attached ie in a cage. Also most bus operators will also allow dogs however private hire/taxi's are a bit of a lottery so check when booking a taxi etc. Ferries that cross the channel to France etc need to be pre-booked but at no extra expense, you can't take the dog up on deck with you but in my experience most staff will allow you to go down and check on them during the journey for water etc.


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