Pets on Long Distance Trains

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AmtrakBlue

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On our recent AutoTrain trip we were surprised to see several service dogs. This included two chihuahuas seated next to us. I was surprised that the handler encouraged us to pet them, She said they had received certification after training courses but it was hard to tell as one tried to climb in my lap. But we were glad to get our dog fix!

I asked how the dogs relieved themselves and she said service dogs are allowed off the train at the Florence, SC service stop in the middle of the night and the SCA wakes them up before arrival there. I do wonder what happens when the train is delayed significantly as one trip we experienced.
I think you were conned. Strangers should NOT pet service dogs, at least while they're working, and handlers should not encourage it. And they should not be climbing onto things or people. And why would she need 2 service dogs.
 

Bonser

Lead Service Attendant
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Jersey City
On our recent AutoTrain trip we were surprised to see several service dogs. This included two chihuahuas seated next to us. I was surprised that the handler encouraged us to pet them, She said they had received certification after training courses but it was hard to tell as one tried to climb in my lap. But we were glad to get our dog fix!

I asked how the dogs relieved themselves and she said service dogs are allowed off the train at the Florence, SC service stop in the middle of the night and the SCA wakes them up before arrival there. I do wonder what happens when the train is delayed significantly as one trip we experienced.
Bingo!! There is no spot for the dogs to relieve themselves.
 
Joined
Sep 20, 2022
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Location
Eaton, OH
On our recent AutoTrain trip we were surprised to see several service dogs. This included two chihuahuas seated next to us. I was surprised that the handler encouraged us to pet them, She said they had received certification after training courses but it was hard to tell as one tried to climb in my lap. But we were glad to get our dog fix!

I asked how the dogs relieved themselves and she said service dogs are allowed off the train at the Florence, SC service stop in the middle of the night and the SCA wakes them up before arrival there. I do wonder what happens when the train is delayed significantly as one trip we experienced.
Possibly therapy dogs and not service ones.
 

Everydaymatters

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I don't think anyone loves dogs more than I do, but to smell "that smell" would be tough. Did anyone notice the man sitting across the aisle holding his nose? Please, people, stop making it hard for everyone who legitimately needs a service dog. These phony ones have destroyed the ability for in-training real service dogs to progress. They have been known to attack dogs being trained for that work, making them impossibly timid to ever help someone who needs it.
 

Northwestern

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Santa Rosa
A statement from Amtrak:

We apologize for the inconvenience and disruption to our passengers’ holiday travel on Dec. 21. Out of concern for all our customers on Train 6, two passengers were told to deboard after their dog created a disturbance by repeatedly barking, urinating, and defecating in the customer seating area. The dog’s owner was given multiple warnings about the dog being on the seat and was given advance notice about stops where dogs could be taken on walks. Several nearby passengers also asked to be moved because of the noise and odor.

Kimberly Woods, Amtrak
 
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There are actually a few conditions where a service dog may be required to be in a passenger's lap or right next to them. Those are not that common, but certainly do exist. Other than that, at the passenger's feet, although that is difficult for some large breeds. Therapy and support animals are not supposed to be on Amtrak except as pets and are required to be in their carriers, under the seat.
 

Bonser

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There are actually a few conditions where a service dog may be required to be in a passenger's lap or right next to them. Those are not that common, but certainly do exist. Other than that, at the passenger's feet, although that is difficult for some large breeds. Therapy and support animals are not supposed to be on Amtrak except as pets and are required to be in their carriers, under the seat.
As others have noted, this should never have happened. The situation should have been addressed on the boarding platform in Emeryville because they did not have a carrier. Failing this, they should have been kicked off by Martinez, if not Richmond.
 

west point

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Just so every one knows the airlines have the same problems. Know of an incident at Montreal where an airplane had to return to the gate because dog was running loose and have mounties march woman and dog off. Passengers clapped their hands.

What was not told ntil later that the woman had been evicted from other planes that day because dog had run wild before leaving gates. Guess woman thought waiting until aiplane taxxing to let dog out was OK? Maybe Amtrak has some problem with dogies let loos after leaving station?
 
Joined
Dec 26, 2022
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We are on a train right now and a passenger and a support dog boarded a few hours ago. I don’t believe this is a service dog. If it is, it is ill behaved. The owner has had trouble handling it and it barks and seeks out passengers as they pass. The owner has also had it sitting in the seat and allowed multiple people to pet it. It is a large breed dog and can be intimidating to other passengers going by as it will be partially in the aisle wanting attention. I can see why this would be concerning and especially of concern to passengers with service animals that would like to be able to travel.
 

Bonser

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We are on a train right now and a passenger and a support dog boarded a few hours ago. I don’t believe this is a service dog. If it is, it is ill behaved. The owner has had trouble handling it and it barks and seeks out passengers as they pass. The owner has also had it sitting in the seat and allowed multiple people to pet it. It is a large breed dog and can be intimidating to other passengers going by as it will be partially in the aisle wanting attention. I can see why this would be concerning and especially of concern to passengers with service animals that would like to be able to travel.
It's like a Pandora's Box was opened when pets were allowed.
 

Bonser

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Amtrak does not recognize support dogs. It needs to be a service dog or a pet. Unless it's particular service need involves proximity to the handler it is not supposed to be on the seat. And if it is not behaving properly, Amtrak is fully within its rights to toss it. But don't hold your breath on that.
They should not be allowed to board if they are not in a carrying cage.
 

zephyr17

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It's like a Pandora's Box was opened when pets were allowed.
Probably true. Someone will always try to take advantage.
It’s a double edge sword, have dogs or travel. That’s the way it’s been for me for awhile now, can’t board the dog so can’t travel. It’s a bummer.
Well, the policy is clearly pets must be in carriers and have them added to the ticket. That passenger should have been denied boarding. If they claimed it was a service dog, they should have been deboarded once it became clear from its behavior that it was not one. Albeit at the risk of getting negative coverage from an ignorant local news crew🙄.

The actual policies are quite clear. Amtrak needs to enforce them, but standard Amtrak YMMV applies. The only grey area is claiming service animal status for pets. And the dog's behavior usually makes that clear, and offending passengers should be deboarded once it is.

BTW, I have had dogs, as many as three at one time. I currently have a cat. My dogs got boarded and I currently use pet sitter drop in visits to care for my cat when travelling. Personally, I would never allow pet ownership to interfere with my ability to travel myself, although I have known people that do. You make your choices, act in ways that seem proper for you, and then accept the consequences.
 
Joined
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It’s a double edge sword, have dogs or travel. That’s the way it’s been for me for awhile now, can’t board the dog so can’t travel. It’s a bummer.
It doesn’t have to be a choice. We have a wonderful dog sitter who spoils our dog more than we and keeps her at her house. It’s worth checking out in your neighborhood.
 
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It doesn’t have to be a choice. We have a wonderful dog sitter who spoils our dog more than we and keeps her at her house. It’s worth checking out in your neighborhood.
Thank you, In most cases that works just fine, until it doesn’t. We have boarded our dogs out many times, some have taken to it, others haven’t done so well. I’ll leave it at that.
 
Joined
Mar 10, 2016
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The ADA seriously limits one's ability to verify service animals, since there is no legit registry or regulation of them.
Without getting too into it; yes, one cannot verify the legitimacy of service (or comfort) animals. The building I live in (and many others) have been forced to take comfort animals and often pets, that are being sold as comfort and/or service animals when it's obvious that they are just - sometimes badly treated and ill or untrained - pets. Also, only legit service animals are dogs and horses, can't remember where I learned that - may also apply to comfort animals, so no comfort skunks, skinks or snakes (on a plane - I so regret not saving the image of a plane with the "intel inside" logo morphed into a "snakes inside" logo). Also, the various professional psychiatric organizations have told their members not to sign any paperwork for 'comfort' animals due to the abuse of the program.
 
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The ADA seriously limits one's ability to verify service animals, since there is no legit registry or regulation of them.
From ADA Requirements: Service Animals
  • Service animals are defined as dogs that are individually trained to do work or perform tasks for people with disabilities. ... Dogs whose sole function is to provide comfort or emotional support do not qualify as service animals under the ADA.
  • A service animal must be under the control of its handler. Under the ADA, service animals must be harnessed, leashed, or tethered, unless the individual’s disability prevents using these devices or these devices interfere with the service animal’s safe, effective performance of tasks.
  • When it is not obvious what service an animal provides, only limited inquiries are allowed. Staff may ask two questions: (1) is the dog a service animal required because of a disability, and (2) what work or task has the dog been trained to perform.
It's not perfect, but IMO training OBS and conductors to follow these guidelines would screen out a lot of the fake service dogs.

Note that there are psychiatric service dogs, but like all service dogs, they must be trained to perform a specific task, not just to comfort or calm the owner.

Even legitimate service dogs can be removed in 2 specific situations: "(1) the dog is out of control and the handler does not take effective action to control it or (2) the dog is not housebroken."
 
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Without getting too into it; yes, one cannot verify the legitimacy of service (or comfort) animals. The building I live in (and many others) have been forced to take comfort animals and often pets, that are being sold as comfort and/or service animals when it's obvious that they are just - sometimes badly treated and ill or untrained - pets. Also, only legit service animals are dogs and horses, can't remember where I learned that - may also apply to comfort animals, so no comfort skunks, skinks or snakes (on a plane - I so regret not saving the image of a plane with the "intel inside" logo morphed into a "snakes inside" logo). Also, the various professional psychiatric organizations have told their members not to sign any paperwork for 'comfort' animals due to the abuse of the program.
The Fair Housing Act has different rules from the ADA. They lump all "assistance animals" into one category, and landlords must make reasonable accommodations.

"Assistance animals are not pets. They are animals that do work, perform tasks, assist, and/or provide therapeutic emotional support for individuals with disabilities. There are two types of assistance animals: (1) service animals, and (2) other animals that do work, perform tasks, provide assistance, and/or provide therapeutic emotional support for individuals with disabilities (referred to in this guidance as a “support animal”)."​

 
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Dec 26, 2022
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Alberta, Canada
In the end it turns out the passenger had 2 dogs on board. The second was a very young puppy that was being bottle fed and was an unhappy little thing whining throughout the night. The large dog had a vest on that said emotional support animal. When the passenger disembarked, I don’t know what happened to the puppy. There wasn’t a carrier or cage that we could see. Was it hiding inside the passengers coat? In the duffel bag?

The passenger was catching a connector to Ann Arbor. I wonder if they were permitted onto that train?

Don’t get me wrong. I am an animal lover and have had many dogs, horses and cats over the years. I worry that people who have service dogs will be faced with unfair consequences put in place because some travellers bring poorly trained dogs on board as service animals and something goes wrong.

A few years ago, Via Rail allowed dogs to travel in the baggage carrier across Canada. We travelled with our two large dogs in their kennels from Edmonton to Washago and back. The crew was so great letting us know when our next stop would be for walking and we could check on them, feed and water often, and make sure they were comfortable. We travelled in July so it was warm. They had the baggage carrier door open a few inches for air flow and we had fans on their kennels. I remember taking them for a swim at a stop in Horne Payne. There were quite a few dogs travelling back then before they put an end to that privilege. It was so nice to be able to take them with us as we would often travel east for several weeks to see family.

Dogs not being allowed on trains anymore happened for a reason. I hope that if the time comes that Amtrak considers making changes that they consider enforcing their regulations first before making a blanket change that will affect service dogs as well.
 
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