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?
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.