Bill To Allow Pets On TrainsAllison Espiritu
We love our pets and we love taking them wherever we go. From car trips to plane rides, they’re accepted travel companions. You’d think it would be easy enough to take them on a train too. But before you purchase railway tickets for you and your animal pals, you should be aware that it will literally take an act of Congress to permit Fido and Fluffy to come aboard.
Amtrak, a well-known and government-subsidized rail system, does not allow our furry companions to ride with us. But The Pets on Trains Act of 2013 has been in the works since May 2013 to “reverse the standing policy prohibiting animals from being brought on trains unless they are traveling with people with disabilities.”
Backed by the Humane Society of the United States, the bill would require Amtrak to allow four-legged friends to ride the rails at a fee.
“Worst-case scenario is having that animal become a burden and having to have a person give up that pet,” said Michael Markarian, chief program and policy officer at the Humane Society to The Daily Best. “There are many people whom Amtrak is the most cost-effective or convenient mode of transportation and currently they are not allowed to travel with their pets. We think it’s an outdated policy because you can travel with your pet on an airplane and stay with them in most hotels.”
The policy would be a benefit for both pet owners and Amtrak. While pet owners get to happily travel with their pets by train, Amtrak would be able to gain revenue with the additional fee per pet.
But what may seem like an easy fix, is of course complicated by Congress. They are currently having a hard time compromising on extending or changing the transportation reauthorization bill in which the Trains Act of 2013 is an amendment. Hope of the bill passing this year looks slim.
“The transportation bill is normally a pretty easy thing. It’s a place where democrats and republicans can come together, but there’s a change this year” said California Republican Rep. John Campbell, co-sponsor of the Trains Act. “Dems want to supplement the [tax revenues] with fund money or cut back on road projects. Republicans want to cut back on non-road projects and not supplement it… So I can’t say that the [Pets on Trains Act] might be passed.”
For now pet owners can show their support and hope for the best.