Rep. Jeff Denham, R-Calif., gives some attention to Lily, his 15-pound French bulldog, Feb. 15 in his office on Capitol Hill in Washington. Lily once was rejected by Amtrak, but the House passed a measure Wednesday that would let her ride with her owner. Photo by
J. Scott Applewhite/AP
The Passenger Rail Reform and Investment Act passed last week by a vote of 316-101 (132 Republicans joined 184 Democrats in voting for the bill; 101 Republicans voted against). The Act holds funding for Amtrak, the USA’s national rail network, at current levels.
But, the big news for dog lovers is that the rail line will designate at least one car per train, where feasible, for pets, so that passengers “may transport a domesticated cat or dog in the same manner as carry-on baggage.”
Representative Jeff Denham, a Republican from California, supported the bill because he likes to travel with Lily, his French Bulldog. Lily can ride on airplanes with Denham but has been unable to do so on train trips.
In 2014, Amtrak initiated a trial project into pet-friendly travel. That trial was only in the Chicago area – now Amtrak must accept pets on a much wider basis.
Kathleen Crisley, specialist in dog massage, rehabilitation and nutrition/food therapy, Canine Catering Ltd, Christchurch, New Zealand
From 5 May through 2 November 2014, Amtrak is conducting a trial program for owners traveling with their pets. The Carry-on Pet Pilot Program will allow passengers to bring cats and small dogs, up to 20 pounds including the carrier, on selected train services in the Chicago region.
The carriers are considered a piece of carry-on baggage and the fee per pet is $25.00. No more than four pets will be allowed per train.
To qualify for the Amtrak scheme, your dog will need to be harmless, odorless and at least eight weeks old.
In an Amtrak press release, Joe Boardman, president and CEO of Amtrak said, “Amtrak is supportive of accommodating pets on trains, and through direct collaboration with the Illinois Department of Transportation and a working group led by U.S. Rep. Jeff Denham of California we are optimistic a plan can be reached to address the needs and concerns of all our passengers.”
It’s a start…let’s hope the trial goes well. All aboard!