kinds of drugs and its side effects

How Amtrak could become solvent (hint: pets are involved)

Doing a guest post about traveling with dogs on MyItchyTravelFeet.com, a terrific travel blog, was a great experience and not only because it brought new visitors to WillMyDogHateMe. A couple of the comments and questions got me thinking about topics I needed to explore further, or that I have explored further but never thought to share.

In the first category is the question of train travel. I wrote:

Sorry, no go. Dogs are not allowed on Amtrak. Frankly, I think the company could solve all its financial problems if they allowed pets on board — I’d be the first to shell out for a sleeper compartment that I could share with my dog — but no one asked me.

This elicted the comment:

Wow–didn’t realize that about Amtrak. Why not let little lap dogs on the train?

Why not indeed?

Why can't Chloe ride on Amtrak -- legally?

So I checked it out. According to The National Association of Railroad Passengers:

Amtrak (and its predecessors) allowed  [pet travel] until 1976, often in three places—sleeping car rooms, and in containers in parlor cars and baggage cars…

In 1976, pets were banned from sleeping and parlor cars. They were allowed in containers of specified dimensions in the baggage car (on those trains that had them). Passengers were allowed to visit them en route during station stops of ten minutes or more “when passenger safety and operating conditions permit, by making arrangements with the train conductor.” ….

Then in 1977, the federal government issued new regulations affecting carriage of pets on trains. There were new requirements for heat and air conditioning for baggage cars (and possibly for providing water).  In the early 1990’s, Amtrak was looking at allowing it on the Auto Train when it got new bi-level equipment (which has since happened)… That project was not carried through.

For the full text, click here.

NARP came out in favor of carriage of pets in baggage cars, “if it can be done legally and affordably.” I can’t imagine why it couldn’t be, especially since the problems that airlines encounter don’t apply, i.e., changes in pressure and temperature in the baggage hold, and no access to the area during flights, including time on the ground.

But that still doesn’t answer the question of why small dogs can’t travel with their owners in carriers under their seats. Again, airlines allow pets in the cabin — and charge hefty fees for the privilege. Why couldn’t Amtrak?

Think there’s no interest? I dug around a bit and discovered that my pal over at DogJaunt.com — who did a guest post here —  covered the topic on her blog, when she describes sneaking the lovely Chloe on board for “a reconnaissance mission, to see whether I want to risk traveling with her on future Amtrak trips.” Her conclusion? “On balance, the risks (for me) outweigh the benefits.” Read the entire post here.

Listen up, Amtrak: The pet industry is recession proof. The American Pet Products Association estimates that Americans will have spent 45.2 billion by the end of 2009 on everything from toys and food to surgical veterinary visits – 2.2 billion more than they spent in 2008 and more than double the $21 billion they spent in 1996.

Follow the money, and get on board with a pet-friendly policy.

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55 Comments

  1. Posted December 20, 2009 at 10:22 am | Permalink

    Oh, you hit a nerve with this one, Edie! Dogs travel with their people in trains (and on buses and in stores and restaurants) all over Europe, especially France. We in the US are so screwed up about this.

    Believe me, if Amtrack took pets, I travel by train with my dog (although probably not with Sadie because of fear issues) before I’d ever consent to my dog being stashed in the cargo bay of an airplane.

    Amtrack–Listen to Edie!

    • Edie
      Posted December 20, 2009 at 11:55 am | Permalink

      You’re not alone! I wanted to take Frankie with me on a short trip from San Diego to Santa Barbara — far less traffic, less stress — and couldn’t believe Amtrak didn’t allow pets.

  2. Posted December 20, 2009 at 5:59 pm | Permalink

    I’m SO with you on this – I travel by Amtrak to NYC 4-5 times every year. So many times it would have been wonderful to take one of the dogs with me.
    And they shouldn’t have to travel in the baggage car either (which is neither heated nor cooled on most trains, so it wouldn’t really be safe for dogs.) However, there is simply NO reason that dogs couldn’t be allowed in certain cabins and/or on certain trains – passengers with allergies could be kept away from the animals.
    I and others I know would willingly pay an animal passenger rate to be able to carry on (and keep in the pet crate for the journey) their pets – I’m saying pets because this should apply to dogs and cats. I wouldn’t limit by size, but I would think it’d be reasonable for Amtrak to charge by size – if you want to travel by train with your Great Dane, and you’re in coach seating (as opposed to paying for a roomette/sleeper), then the 600-size crate should be charged differently than the 100-size sherpa or tote for a smaller pet. If you’re in a roomette with your Great Dane, my hat’s off to you! 😉

    Amtrak’s luggage rules are widely ignored. When I travel by train, I’m amazed at the strap-a-handle-on-it-and-haul-it-aboard mentality of the average train passenger. I own several dog crates that are smaller than a 22″ rollaboard, which is conservative for what most passengers carry – it’s way smaller than a 28″ or 30″ duffel or pullman suitcase. Madison’s 100 crate would fit easily in the overhead rack in coach on Amtrack trains. Many of the Northeast Corridor (northeast US) trains have separate luggage areas and racks within the heated/cooled coach car at the front or end by the restrooms and passage to the next car – so no need to put the pet onto the baggage car.

    Those of us in upstate NY have often said that if Amtrak offered a special train to/from Westminster in NYC, we’d be on it with our dogs in a heartbeat – especially since the dog show venue and the dog-friendly hotels are right across from Penn Station.
    Count me (and Madison, and Churro the cat) in on the YES vote to ask Amtrak to let pets travel with their owners in passenger compartments!

  3. Posted December 20, 2009 at 6:34 pm | Permalink

    In Boston Massachusetts, during off-peak hours the MBTA allows leashed well behaved dogs (of any size) on all their subway and trains including commuter rails. Its one of the reasons I love the public transportation there. With a good amount of training and lots and lots of treats, I was able to take my greyhound anywhere the subway would take me.

    • Edie
      Posted December 20, 2009 at 6:52 pm | Permalink

      Yes, I just discovered that NYC Transit and Metro-North accept pets too, and the restrictions seem minimal. I don’t think a lot of people in the country “get” public transportation — which Amtrak essentially is, since it’s government run. If large metro areas like NYC and Boston have no problems with pets on board, why not the major rail line, which needs to attract more passengers (unlike the subways and commuter rails)?

  4. Posted December 20, 2009 at 8:17 pm | Permalink

    This is a long overdue solution and I can’t believe they haven’t figured out a booking system with x number of big dogs per car, leaving a number of cars clear of dogs for those with allergies. It’s not rocket science to require booking ahead when transporting animals.

  5. Posted December 20, 2009 at 8:54 pm | Permalink

    The blog post and comments are wonderfully on point … we need more/better travel options for pets. But two important things to consider when it comes to US vs Europe pet travel. #1 – Most Europeans treat their pets like pets, not surrogate children. #2 – Europeans don’t work as many hours as Americans … so they have more time to spend with their pets; thus, more time is spent better socializing the pet AND better training the pet. In my opinion, this leads to more well-behaved pets that are better travelers and that are more easily welcomed/tolerated in public places and public transportation.

    • Edie
      Posted December 21, 2009 at 7:13 am | Permalink

      Good points Rod, but you could take that further and say we in the U.S. are overpermissive with our children, who are therefore badly behaved. Perhaps they shouldn’t be permitted to ride the trains either…

    • Bob
      Posted January 5, 2013 at 6:49 pm | Permalink

      We need to get our act together in this country. I think that it is a travesty that Amtrak does not have a separate car that is pet-friendly. Amtrak is subsidized by the U.S. government. As a tax-paying citizen, I believe we are entitled to this and should demand it. American citizens should not be deprived from traveling with their pets in a dog friendly and oriented nation. I, for one have a phyicians script to travel with dog as she helps prevent me from having panic attacks as well as scripts for medication. Not all handicaps are ones you can see. She also is only 4.5 lbs, is pad trained and stays in a carrying bag; she is well-behaved and does not bark when travelling. Many anxiety dogs are very small and even many hotels have a weight limit for stays. So I believe that people who have prescriptions for anxiety, depression and other ailments should definitely be permitted to take their pets with them. A separate car designated for people with pets would isolate them from people that don’t want to be around animals. In addition, as pets age, they are more prone to sickness and stress ailments when left with sitters. Let us get more compassionate, sensitive and reasonable as a nation, Amtrak. Start getting your act together and take notes from countries like Canada and European nations that make more sensible decisions and are much more reasonable to their citizen base.
      Get with the program, Amtrak, or you may have an American rebellion on your hand!

      • Edie Jarolim
        Posted January 7, 2013 at 6:09 pm | Permalink

        Hear, hear!

  6. Posted December 20, 2009 at 10:54 pm | Permalink

    Great idea but as someone previously said dog size should not be discriminated against.

    My dog has an entire fleet of buses named after her breed – go greyhound.

    I think train travel would make much more sense. They would probably have to have a special entrance more like a ramp then those big steps though to get the big dogs in.

    All aboard!

    • Edie
      Posted December 21, 2009 at 7:08 am | Permalink

      Pat and Karyn, absolutely I think there should be room for the big dogs too; I just mean that, while you could argue logistics about where to keep the larger crates, because it involves issues of temperature control, there’s absolutely no reason that a small dog policy, similar to that of the airlines, couldn’t be instituted without any further studies.

  7. DET
    Posted December 21, 2009 at 9:21 am | Permalink

    This is a bad idea for a number of reasons. First, it won’t make Amtrak “solvent,” no matter how you might define it. Therefore, the money question is not really all that relevant. Second, many people have health issues (allergies to pets, etc.). Should they be forced to travel for perhaps a couple of days (not a few hours, as on a plane) cooped up with someone with a pet? Third, if only small dogs (or cats) are allowed, will people with larger pets complain about being discriminated against? They’d probably have a case. Finally, what happens when the inevitable happens, and someone gets bitten by a dog (or scratched by a cat)? Amtrak will get sued up the wazoo, and promptly repeal the policy (maybe that has already happened, leading to the current situation).

    • Edie
      Posted December 21, 2009 at 9:31 am | Permalink

      Thanks for this feedback; I’m glad someone took the counter position so I could answer some of these objections.

      First, I’m not sure how you come at your conclusion that adding revenues by adding ridership won’t help the bottom line. I didn’t present any solid figures — though I think I’d like to find some. Neither did you. So this is a moot and, at present rhetorical, question.

      As for the health issues, I see no reason that there can’t be separate cars — as there were once smoking cars — where people who don’t mind pets and/or are not allergic to them can travel together with pets.

      As I’ve noted in these comments, I don’t think this policy should be restricted to people with small dogs, just that it was a way to ease intoa new policy.

      Finally, if the NYC and Boston transit systems — not known for a ridership that is shy about suing — have managed to institute pets-on-board policies (and there are many other transit systems that have done so too), why should Amtrak not be able to figure it out?

  8. Posted December 21, 2009 at 9:39 am | Permalink

    First to Edie. How many “pet people” say that they would rather eat at a restaurant table next to a well behaved dog than a screaming kid? Whether your comment was in jest or not, it’s right on.

    Second to DET. Why do Americans have the mindset of allergies, discrimination, dog bites, and liabilities? I lived in Europe for a couple of years and have traveled back on vacations. The American mentality just doesn’t exist there … why so here???

    • Edie
      Posted December 21, 2009 at 9:53 am | Permalink

      Rod, I think I’ll leave my stand on whether I was joking ambiguous (though, based on the fact that I have a dog but no children, you can probably guess). I’ll add: How many times have you heard anyone complain that they had to sit next to a barking dog on a plane? A crying baby?

      I don’t think we can ever change the mindset of people in the U.S. who don’t have pets, but we can let our wallets do the talking — which we already do in many arenas. I suspect most people who might object to the plan don’t ride Amtrak anyway.

  9. Pilch
    Posted December 21, 2009 at 10:11 am | Permalink

    Dog, cats, pets of ANY kind on public transportation, (other than short jaunts of subway, etc) is a BAD, and STOOPID idea….

    I am a pet lover, and have had dogs, cats, (and ALL the “little critters” that come when you raise kids ) my entire life.

    The LAST thing I want to do however, is to pay for a room (or a seat) that was just moments before occupied by a traveler, who “just loved her little ‘Pookie’, and let the dog/cat out of the crate, to crawl all over the roomette……..”

    Forget about the occasional piss, poop, or vomit that WILL happen if pet travel were allowed on trains.

    And “segregate” those who are allergic to pets, and those who aren’t? (“…like they do for smokers………”) sorry ain’t gonna work. Not enuff equipment NOW on Amtrak, and why should Amtrak have to incur all the additional cleaning, sanitizing, etc ., etc., that would HAVE to happen

    Best idea would be some entity to purchase, and staff baggage/pet cars that are environmentally safe for pets, and put them on Amtrak in lieu of the regular baggage cars. (thereby freeing up some much needed rolling stock)

    Then if you want “little Pookie” to travel with you on the train, put the Pookie” in their cage, and charge them a super-premium to cover the costs of the new baggage/pet cars, and staff.

    Dogs are dogs. Cats are cats. They are animals. Leave at home with someone to watch them, or kennel them. They won’t die. They won’t even probably miss you that much.

    My daughter treats her two toy poodles like they were children, makes ME wanna vomit.

    • Edie
      Posted December 21, 2009 at 10:33 am | Permalink

      I happen to be allergic to perfume/aftershaves. The last thing I want to do is pay for a seat that’s been occupied by someone who’s overdone the Axe or Chanel No. 5. Or — not to belabor the child/dog analogy — a seat in which little Timmy has thrown up or wee Marjorie has pooped her pants. But I take my chances. And dogs that have been housebroken know how to hold their bodily functions — far longer than humans do. Trains stop often enough to let dogs relieve themselves, as opposed to many planes (for example, overseas flights). Again, I have never heard about problems dogs present to the cleaning of planes.

      No one’s arguing that you need to travel with your dog or cat in your lap. Carriers under your seat would be fine. And a separate car where crates could be kept is an excellent idea, one that people with larger dogs would indeed welcome.

      Dog owners are law abiding too. if a dog that is supposed to be crated is let out to crawl around, that could be subject to a fine.

  10. Posted December 21, 2009 at 10:14 am | Permalink

    I think it’s an idea worthy of some research on the part of Amtrak. If this was a topic in the business stats class that I teach, I’d encourage some investigation into the possibility of adding this as a revenue source on a pilot program basis.

    I have to assume that Amtrak already must allow a Service Dog on board, for someone with disabilities.

    Addressing how to accommodate people with pet allergies and people traveling with pets seems possible, given that there are multiple cars, unlike an airplane with a single cabin.

    How nice to hear that some of the metro areas are already allowing for the well-managed critter companion.

    • Edie
      Posted December 21, 2009 at 10:37 am | Permalink

      Absolutely service dogs are allowed on Amtrak, Jenny (though they’re not particularly welcomed, as the language on the Amtrak site makes clear). And as I said in my previous reply to Pilch, people have allergies to lots of different things — that’s why most magazines are available in perfume-free versions. There are plenty of ways of getting around the problem.

  11. Z.
    Posted December 22, 2009 at 10:57 am | Permalink

    I am terrified of dogs. I have been since I was very young. When a dog barks at me, or starts following me around the room, or sits begging under my table, I get scared. I find their barking alarming, their teeth – capable of injuring me even if that dog doesn’t normally injure people – terrifying, and to add to this, their smell rancid.

    And no matter how much their owner tells me “oh, he won’t hurt you”; “oh, he’s just being friendly”; “oh, he doesn’t bite”, it doesn’t take it, because I can’t just take the word of a complete stranger that I’m at no risk from a creature that is loud and is fully capable if injuring me if it wanted to do that.

    So being in a train with several dogs on it for hours, days – the three days from Chicago to Los Angeles, perhaps – is a real nightmare to me. Yet words like “Why not let LITTLE LAP DOGS on the train?” tell me that, like so many dog owners, you possess the complex of thinking that because you love your dog and don’t feel threatened by it, it’s the same for everyone else, and thus brush to the side the genuine fear I’m experiencing.

    And this brings me to a very important point about this supposed business of Amtrak making more money if they allow dogs:

    For every dog you allow on, there could well be multiple people like me, who would completely desert Amtrak altogether, and not pay a fare that would be equal to more than that paid for the dog, in order that they don’t have to spend hours locked in a set of enclosed carriages alongside several dogs.

    • Edie
      Posted December 22, 2009 at 12:10 pm | Permalink

      Thank you for your comment; I really appreciate your point of view. Honestly, I am not thinking about subjecting people to things they are afraid of and/or allergic to but, rather, contemplating alternatives in *separate* compartments and luggage areas. I know that little lap dogs are frightening to some; my own small dog is frightened of other small — and large — dogs. It irritates me no end when other owners say “but my dog is friendly.” My dog doesn’t see it that way and that’s all that counts.

    • Scarlett
      Posted October 8, 2010 at 9:47 am | Permalink

      I think you need therapy. Being that prohibited by any fear is truly unhealthy and causes you to be unable to live life to the fullest.

  12. may
    Posted December 23, 2009 at 9:03 pm | Permalink

    amtrak you disappoint! i could write more but i’m so angry with people / businesses that don’t consider dogs that behave but only service animals. what’s the difference if a dog behave just like a service animal? the fact is small dogs are cleaner than service animals that have been around anywhere if you are concern about messing up your place. i understand about the need of service animals but it’s completely scam. if the situation was the president of united states, it would be okay for ‘bo’ the dog to go anywhere. so if obama is really passionate and compassionate about new policies and change in the nation, why can’t he start recognizing that dogs are part of the human race too. i see this no pet policy as double standard, segregation, unfair, discrimination flat out!

  13. David Gunn
    Posted December 28, 2009 at 7:33 pm | Permalink

    I work for Amtrak. It’s an FDA issue. If you permit animals on the train, the cleanliness issues are impossible to deal with. Trains that currently turn around in less than an hour would take 3-4, which would mess up the whole NEC. All the folks who say pets = profitability have no idea what they are talking about.

    • Edie
      Posted December 29, 2009 at 6:17 am | Permalink

      If you are *the* David Gunn, the former president of Amtrak, I’m honored to have your input (and I appreciate it even if you’re not). I put this issue out there rhetorically, though it’s obviously generated serious interest. All the aspects had not been considered in any methodical fashion and certainly the opinions expressed in favor of pets on Amtrak are not based on data analysis; I wasn’t aware that any studies had been conducted. That said, I wonder if some aspect of pet travel — e.g., small pets kept in carriers, similar to airline model with the difference that these pets could be exercised and allowed to relieve themselves during stops — would not be feasible (and remunerative). There are no cleanup issues involved with small pets in carriers — or large ones in crates for that matter, as those in airline holds have demonstrated.

      I don’t really understand the FDA reference. What does the food and drug administration have to do with transporting animals? Do you mean USDA?

  14. Rebecca Boren
    Posted December 30, 2009 at 1:37 pm | Permalink

    My how things have changed. At the entrance to my home office, I have posted a reproduction of a 1930s (I believe) British Rail poster featuring a very happy-looking wire-haired fox terrier next to a pile of luggage. It proclaims, “‘I’m ready’ Take your dog with you by rail” and offers round-trip tickets for the cost of a one-way. It even notes, “Drinking water for dogs can be obtained from station refreshment room or on request to a member of the station staff.” If we are to ever recover successful public transportation in this country, we need to recognize that members of the public travel with stuff — awkward luggage, pets, kitchenware, umbrellas, shopping, lunch, whatever. One would think that a failing train system, which Amtrak certainly is, would be looking for ways to encourage more passengers, not ways to restrict and banish them.
    And I would also hope that we could learn to behave with a little charity towards our (literal) fellow travelers. I happen to be childless. But the last time I was shoveled into airline coach adjacent to a baby with very sticky fingers, I smiled and offered to hold her for awhile so mom could deal with the older kids. It didn’t kill me to have to change my shirt when I got to my hotel. Part of the fun and adventure of travel is the camaraderie of dealing with assorted challenges. If you don’t want to encounter the world outside your comfort zone, stay home or lock yourself in your car.
    Seems to me this cause could use a spokesperson — and who better than the nation’s Number 1 Train Fan and Dog Lover — Vice President Joe Biden? Here is a man who, in addition to commuting via Amtrak all those years, considered that at last having the time and space for a dog was one of the major benefits of being elected to the job a heartbeat away from the presidency. “Go with Joe.” I like it.

  15. Posted December 30, 2009 at 1:38 pm | Permalink

    It may be that David Gunn is referring to the 1977 APHIS regulations referenced in this article: http://www.narprail.org/cms/index.php/resources/more/pet/ If so, I think Edie’s sketched-in proposal is worth considering: instead of carrying pets in sleeping compartments (which would require extensive clean-up) or baggage cars (which would require heating/cooling baggage cars), why not allow only small pets in carriers in coach cars, as they do on planes? I think even long-distance train travelers would be thrilled, even though they’d have to doze upright in coach seats, to be allowed to bring their small dogs on board with them. The issue, then, would be to provide enough time at stops, every so often, for pet owners to take their dogs out for a quick break — and those designated stations would need to have a patch of grass or gravel and be equipped with one of those poles bearing poop bags and a small trash can that you see at airport pet relief areas.

  16. Posted January 4, 2010 at 11:26 am | Permalink

    I travel a lot on business and personal 30-40 trips a year. I wuld use Amtrak at least 5-10 times ayear if they allowed pet travel. We have a 16 year old Minaiature Schnauzer and our only option most times is to drive if my wife and I want to travel together. Amtrak is missing out on a multi-billion dollar pet obesession. Someone recently argued that all airlines do not view this as an opportunity and therefore it was logically not valid. They evidently do not get the fact that most companies would be out of business if they modeled themselves after airline business practices. Profitable airlines such as Soutwest have realized the value of pet travel. Lack of space and service standards have prohibitted airlines from accessing this valuable market. Amtrak should be ashamed that they do not offer this option that many of us would pay for. Hey Amtrak representatives here is a suggestion…travel to Europe spend several weeks travelin on trains and see how its done.

    • Alexi Anton
      Posted October 29, 2010 at 10:23 am | Permalink

      Hotel chains have rooms specifically for pets with a small surcharge, some major airlines allow pets in the cabin, European trains and from what I’ve read some region specific commuter services offer pets- Why is AMTRAK so stupid? With airline travel being so difficult now, this is a perfect time for AMTRAK to grow business. I contact them and get a routine bureaucratic answer. As for the posted reasons why they should not allow pets- I have a perfect solution- hermetically sealed containers for people who can’t tolerate peanuts, pets, perfume, etc- there is no other way for you to exist in this world filled with food, animals and people.

  17. Ting
    Posted March 13, 2010 at 11:44 pm | Permalink

    Although I love traveling so much, I love my dog more so I hardly travel anyway which needs more than a day of driving. I would definitely be the first to bring my dog to travel by train if Amtrak allows dogs. I believes many dog owners think the same. It would be win win situation for both their business and us as pet owners.

  18. CateM
    Posted May 19, 2010 at 2:40 pm | Permalink

    Why not send these comments to the CEO s at Amtrak? Why not write them letters?

    I have done this kind of thing with another company that wanted to do away with a much needed travel service for pets. They were 100% firm in their commitment to get rid of this, but with enough convincing, they changed their minds.

  19. Karen K
    Posted June 13, 2010 at 7:24 pm | Permalink

    I would bring my dog on a train in a NY minute– I prefer train travel to driving.
    My dog has flown several times- quietly, under-the-seat in her travel bag.

    Have there been studies about the economic side of dogs on trains?

    • Edie Jarolim
      Posted June 13, 2010 at 7:26 pm | Permalink

      I don’t know of any besides the study citied on the train site I linked to which said it would cost some $13 million to convert — a drop in the bucket compared to what they could make, IMHO.

  20. Glenn Kay
    Posted August 5, 2010 at 7:28 am | Permalink

    I totally agree with the comments already shared. Rail travel in the US is so far behind the rest of the world… slower trains and pet unfriendly. I myself prefer to travel by train… but Amtrak’s anti-pet policy is very discouraging. I personally don’t see any problem to having my dogs in a sleeper car and would be willing to pay an extra fee. I wish we could start a petition that Amtrak would listen to.

  21. M Horn
    Posted September 4, 2010 at 8:42 pm | Permalink

    Has anyone ever communicated with Amtrak about this? Maybe if Amtrak received enough complaints, it would change its pet policy. Or should we write a letter and start a petition? I am chronically ill, and I’m not supposed to drive long distances. I often use the commuter Amtrak between say, High Point, and Raleigh, NC. It’s a short ride, but can’t bring my dogs, which means $$$ for boarding, and there is no good boarding around here!

  22. Tammi
    Posted October 30, 2010 at 11:33 pm | Permalink

    I am a senior who would enjoy traveling with my 5lb tiny toy poodle.. I would take a private cabin, we would travel often and amtrack will make a $$$$$ from us.. let us senior travel with our small friends.. thank you.

  23. Kiteii
    Posted November 26, 2010 at 9:46 am | Permalink

    Yes, currently struggling with question of do I do the right thing for the planet by taking Amtrak, or the right thing for my cat by driving so she can come with me on a two-day trip! It’s important to make eco-friendly train travel available to people with pets (not to mention making train travel even better by electrifying with GREEN-sourced renewable energy)! Whatever it takes, Amtrak should “JUST DO IT”! Pet owners should be glad to pay extra to make this possible! Get pet-friendly but enviromentally-unfriendly cars/SUVs off the road! I will probably drive, but I don’t want to — just that my cat doesn’t understand why I would want to leave her behind. Maybe at least I can do some carbon-offsets from Amtrak’s site…

  24. Posted January 6, 2011 at 12:03 am | Permalink

    I have never travelled by train because I cannot take my dogs. As far as sanitizing goes, why not have plastic covers on the the cushions of designated dog areas including sleepers. Pet owners would know they need to supply their own linens or seat covers, if desired, and the areas could then be sanitized with a spray of disinfectant and a wipe of a cloth. Obviously, no one should be subjected to a travelling situation that is uncomfortable, unpleasant or unhealthy. That is why there should be a pet car (and although I have smoke induced asthma, I believe smokers should have a car as well) and the rest of the train should remain pet and smoke free. As far as bites go, all travelling pet owners could be required to provide proof of personal liability insurance or have to buy a trip policy holding the carrier harmless. I’m not sure if such a policy exists, but it could certainly be created in a legal manner. The other rule that should be in place is that the carrier can eject any pet for unruly or disruptive behavior (this rule should also be applied to humans of all ages!). Any problem that hinders pet travel can be solved in an economical manner if common sense and consideration for others is applied.

    • Edie Jarolim
      Posted January 6, 2011 at 6:15 am | Permalink

      I totally agree with you — especially the part about ejecting disruptive humans of all ages! Seriously, the insurance could be complicated but I don’t see why there can’t be a separate car with crates where pets could be kept and visited by their owners/walked by them during breaks.

  25. Allie
    Posted January 11, 2011 at 11:32 am | Permalink

    I know this is somewhat off-topic, so I’ll start by stating I wholeheartedly agree that it would be fantastic to have the option of train travel with dogs.

    The fact that I’m unwilling to put my (big) dogs on a plane (no way will I send them as cargo, but that’s just me) and the fact that I just don’t enjoy traveling when I have to leave them behind are large components of our decision to buy an RV and travel that way. It’s a great option that is generally very pet friendly! 🙂 It doesn’t help with the overseas travel, but neither does Amtrak.

    • Edie Jarolim
      Posted January 11, 2011 at 12:04 pm | Permalink

      I see no reason that there can’t be a separate car where large dogs and other domestic pets that don’t fit under seats could travel, not only one where small pets could travel with their owners. Why not? Next step…

  26. Posted June 1, 2011 at 11:00 am | Permalink

    Here in our country, you can bring your dog with you on a travel but not on the airconditioned space. But you just need to have the papers of the dog, all the information about it, the rabies vaccination and whatsoever. How sad that Amtrak didn’t allow dogs to be in there. Let us hope for another ways to take our dogs on a trip.

  27. Posted August 18, 2011 at 6:19 pm | Permalink

    I wanted to take my dogs by train, and found they’d have to stay in the baggage car. No way. Commercial plans were no good either. So I took my savings, went to Vegas, ran my meager $1200. up to $36,000 (Oh happy day), came home instead of staying and losing it all back. I then hired a Lear jet and my dogs and myself traveled in great style and comfort all the way from Los Angeles to Guadalajara.
    True Story.
    If only AmTrak would permit dogs to travel with me, I’d take the train all over the place.

  28. Posted August 21, 2011 at 1:15 pm | Permalink

    I have six dogs that we would take from Milwaukee, WI to Yuma, AZ twice a year, if Amtrak allowed dogs to travel. That’s ONE person’s additional revenue.

  29. Warren Cone
    Posted August 31, 2011 at 2:43 pm | Permalink

    Refreshing to see a web blog with contrasting views and tolerance. @Edie… I think you struck the right note of compromise back in January with your idea of a separate climate controlled car with all the pets in it, one that could be visited at the longer stops (or not). Perhaps it is the pet-OWNERS not the pets suffering the most separation anxiety. We can take it I think. Here in Hawaii, we used to have a months long quarantine requirement to bring animals into the state. Our dog went through the process twice with no adverse affect. 3-4 days trip with a few visits should be tolerable I would think. It can’t cost that much to pull an extra car with a “pet conductor” can it? I think AMTRAK would come out okay charging pets a coach fee to travel in the pet car.

    • Edie Jarolim
      Posted August 31, 2011 at 3:50 pm | Permalink

      Thanks for that, Warren. Sure, if Pet Airways can do it — i.e., land the plane and take care of the pets — why can’t Amtrak? I think people would probably want to walk their dogs at the longer stops but a “pet conductor” can certainly coordinate the comings and goings.

  30. dlynch
    Posted November 17, 2011 at 5:06 pm | Permalink

    Once again the holidays are approaching and I’m trying to find a new, safe, cost effective, stress-free way to travel across the country with my German Shepherd. Planes are tough because of the temperature restrictions. Driving from LA to Chicago is an option, albeit a lengthy and boring one. PetAirways is a joke. They never seem to have room for large breed dogs and the cost is ridiculous. What Amtrak needs to address is the need to transport medium to large sized (and well-behaved) dogs where the dog is not in a baggage compartment. There’s no need for people to travel long distances on a train with a small dog that can fit in a carrier under the seat or in an overhead compartment. You can do that much cheaper and quicker on an airplane. I think the best solution is a designated sleeper car(s) where the dog must remain in the room except for boarding and for taking care of business at stops. Forget traveling with crates. Have you ever tried to lug around a 500 series, a dog on a leash, and your baggage? Forget it. No one needs to be exposed to the animal, the FDA won’t need to worry about fur in the soup, and like hotels that allow pets there should be a one time non-refundable clean up fee or just a pet fee. It’s also not unreasonable for Amtrak to ask that the dog meet certain requirements for travel: health cert of course, but why not also ask for a Canine Good Citizen cert or an achievement in a high level of obedience before being allowed to travel? Pet owners should be accountable for their pets, and responsible pet owners should enjoy some perks. I would rather buy a roomette and pay a pet fee for a few days of stress free travel than cram him into a crate in the dead of winter at O’Hare. Now about the kids…

  31. DJ
    Posted December 19, 2011 at 2:39 pm | Permalink

    I am going to Chicago this weekend from Royaloak, Mi to Chicago, IL for holidays. Just wondering will Amtrak allow to carry my cat(Naina) along with me.. I cant leave her alone and celebrate holidays. any advice?

    • Edie Jarolim
      Posted December 19, 2011 at 2:42 pm | Permalink

      I’m afraid Amtrak doesn’t allow pets of any kind. I know it’s tough, but maybe you could have someone come in and feed/watch Naina while you’re away? Cats don’t really like to travel very much in any case, so she might be better off at home in familiar surroundings.

      Good luck and happy holidays!

  32. Christy
    Posted September 13, 2012 at 7:16 pm | Permalink

    I could not agree more! I was excited to get home today because I was anxious to lookup whether or not Amtrak allowed dogs. Of course, my enthusiasm was short-lived. My dog has diabetes and gets insulin shots twice a day. Why does traveling with dogs have to be such a huge issue!?!

    Thanks for your great article and blog 🙂

    • Edie Jarolim
      Posted September 13, 2012 at 7:19 pm | Permalink

      I know — it’s disappointing. My dog has diabetes too which make traveling more complicated. Good luck!

  33. Daniel
    Posted December 14, 2012 at 11:47 am | Permalink

    There’s a whitehouse petition to change Amtrak’s policy…
    http://wh.gov/RN6p

    • Edie Jarolim
      Posted December 14, 2012 at 9:36 pm | Permalink

      Thanks for the information! I just signed it and shared it on Facebook.

  34. Vin
    Posted February 8, 2013 at 9:46 am | Permalink

    A petition was started on We The People – Please Sign to get the White House to recommend pets in pet carriers on Amtrak! http://wh.gov/pHuQ

4 Trackbacks

  1. […] How Amtrak Could Become Solvent (Hint: Pets Are Involved). This my probably my most popular post, and the ex-CEO of Amtrak — or at least someone named David Gunn — commented on it. People want to travel with their pets, they love trains, and… well, you get where this might be going. […]

  2. By Damn you, Amtrak! on June 18, 2010 at 10:46 am

    […] ranted about this before, but it was abstract. Now I’m pissed. Not only for me but for Frankie, who deserves better […]

  3. By Introducing: Pet Travel (Book) Tuesday on January 11, 2011 at 6:47 am

    […] I have a secondary mission that’s part of the first. Getting Amtrak to reconsider its policy of banning pets. […]

  4. […] the rails. I know, I have a thing about this, and have written passionately about it before; see How Amtrak Could Become Solvent. But I’m not the only one who feels this way; see comments to How Amtrak Could Become […]

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