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Henry Kisor

Service Attendant
Joined
Sep 14, 2007
Messages
195
I travel often on Amtrak with a service dog. OBS and conductors (with one exception some years ago) have been remarkably accommodating, especially with the dog's relief needs. The only difficulties (and there really haven't been so many) have been with fellow passengers unaware of service dog etiquette (not their fault!) who want to pet the dog without asking or who don't believe the dog is a genuine service animal (he is a small mini schnauzer mix) and complain to the conductors about imagined behavior. That's why we always ride in sleeper or, for shorter trips, business class if available. (Edit: It's oh-dark-thirty, I just got up and saw this thread, and forgot I've already said my piece several times on it. Apologies.)
 
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AmtrakBlue

Engineer
Gathering Team Member
Joined
May 6, 2011
Messages
14,988
Location
Delaware
I travel often on Amtrak with a service dog. OBS and conductors (with one exception some years ago) have been remarkably accommodating, especially with the dog's relief needs. The only difficulties (and there really haven't been so many) have been with fellow passengers unaware of service dog etiquette (not their fault!) who want to pet the dog without asking or who don't believe the dog is a genuine service animal (he is a small mini schnauzer mix) and complain to the conductors about imagined behavior. That's why we always ride in sleeper or, for shorter trips, business class if available. (Edit: It's oh-dark-thirty, I just got up and saw this thread, and forgot I've already said my piece several times on it. Apologies.)
It bears repeating, Henry. Keep on posting to remind us about service dogs on trains. :)
 
Joined
Jul 8, 2015
Messages
6,486
Location
NYC/Queens
There are a number of conditions where specially trained animals alert before a serious condition occurs, and it is often breeds not commonly associated with "service dog" that fill those roles, since they may be required to be in extremely close proximity (like in lap or next seat) There is no good way to "demonstrate" that skill, certainly we wouldn't ask someone to have a seizure to show what their dog does. And there is no formal registry or certification agency. An animal can even be self-trained in some cases. Most suggestions though well meaning, impose a serious burden on those who really depend on these animals. It is truly sad that the low end of society does things that impact others without caring at all. There just is not an easy answer or quick fix.
 
Joined
Jul 23, 2009
Messages
7,664
Location
Washington State
Let's just start with the permitted ADA question of what they're supposed to do, coupled with observing whether or not the dog's behavior is consistent with service animal training. Demonstrating the service a much of a leap too far. It is not always practical, is clearly inconsistent with the ADA and privacy protections.

A central registry that simply certifies a service animal's status as such without the service performed being publicly available would probably be a reasonable solution for all concerned.

The apparent epidemic of false service dog claims in order to get Fluffy or Butch in where they do not belong ultimately negatively impacts those who need and have actual service animals.
 
Joined
Sep 22, 2022
Messages
1
Location
Boston
I travel often on Amtrak with a service dog. OBS and conductors (with one exception some years ago) have been remarkably accommodating, especially with the dog's relief needs. The only difficulties (and there really haven't been so many) have been with fellow passengers unaware of service dog etiquette (not their fault!) who want to pet the dog without asking or who don't believe the dog is a genuine service animal (he is a small mini schnauzer mix) and complain to the conductors about imagined behavior. That's why we always ride in sleeper or, for shorter trips, business class if available. (Edit: It's oh-dark-thirty, I just got up and saw this thread, and forgot I've already said my piece several times on it. Apologies.)
This is very helpful information (especially about OBS and conductors being helpful with relief breaks). My family is taking a trip to NOLA this year and one of us has is blind and has a guide dog. She once got left at Penn Station (with her human companion and luggage still on the train) when she got off to give the dog a break and is worried about a similar circumstance.
 

HenryK

Lead Service Attendant
Joined
Jul 12, 2015
Messages
296
That is inexcusable! Conductors and attendants should never let that happen. But they are human and can get distracted. I've found the best thing to do is ask the attendant to watch out for us and stay within their sight. I try to make sure to tell the conductors where I am getting off to relieve Trooper. So far so good.
 
Joined
Jul 23, 2009
Messages
7,664
Location
Washington State
That is inexcusable! Conductors and attendants should never let that happen. But they are human and can get distracted. I've found the best thing to do is ask the attendant to watch out for us and stay within their sight. I try to make sure to tell the conductors where I am getting off to relieve Trooper. So far so good.
Well, I agree its unfortunate but I can certainly understand it happening at Penn Station. A through train at Penn is going to have a huge turnover there, with lots of people getting on and off on a narrow crowded platform. There won't really be any car attendants just a couple of conductors, any through trains there will be NE Regionals and Acelas. Hitting departure times and limiting dwell times will be a top priority. It's nothing at all like a service stop on a long distance train where there probably is not a huge passenger turnover, there is a lot more room, and car attendants at each door to keep an eye on things.
 

AmtrakBlue

Engineer
Gathering Team Member
Joined
May 6, 2011
Messages
14,988
Location
Delaware
Well, I agree its unfortunate but I can certainly understand it happening at Penn Station. A through train at Penn is going to have a huge turnover there, with lots of people getting on and off on a narrow crowded platform. There won't really be any car attendants just a couple of conductors, any through trains there will be NE Regionals and Acelas. Hitting departure times and limiting dwell times will be a top priority. It's nothing at all like a service stop on a long distance train where there probably is not a huge passenger turnover, there is a lot more room, and car attendants at each door to keep an eye on things.
Depends on which Penn Station she got left at. ;)

Wow. She got left. I would agree just tell attendant to watch for her. So sad. What did she end of doing after she got left?
Assuming it was Penn Station at NYC and therefore she was not on an LD train (they originate there), they probably put her on the next train to her destination or, if she was connecting to a train in WAS, then next train to WAS.
If it was Penn Station in Baltimore and she was on an LD train, they probably put her on the next train to WAS to catch up to her train as the LD trains have a long dwell in order to swap engines.
 
Joined
Jul 23, 2009
Messages
7,664
Location
Washington State
Wow. She got left. I would agree just tell attendant to watch for her. So sad. What did she end of doing after she got left?
Wouldn't be car attendants on an NE Regional or Acela (excerpt Acela First) at NYP, just a conductor and AC(s).

That'd be a tough situation at any NEC station, though. My initial thought is it'd be better to do it in Philly. The stop is shorter but the platforms are wider and less frantic.
 

fillyjonk

OBS Chief
Joined
Mar 10, 2011
Messages
572
I get that conductors are busy and stuff, but I can't imagine not seeing someone get off with a dog for a relief break and then not get back on and go "welp, okay, might as well leave"

I understand "passengers have to take some responsibility" but if you're partially-sighted (or totally blind) and you're helping your service animal....it would be nice if someone was watching for you.
 
Joined
Jul 23, 2009
Messages
7,664
Location
Washington State
I get that conductors are busy and stuff, but I can't imagine not seeing someone get off with a dog for a relief break and then not get back on and go "welp, okay, might as well leave"

I understand "passengers have to take some responsibility" but if you're partially-sighted (or totally blind) and you're helping your service animal....it would be nice if someone was watching for you.
I sure can imagine it with the hustle and bustle on a Penn Station platform with possibly hundreds of people getting off and on. Also, I imagine conductors probably assume people detraining Penn Station are at their destination.

Havre, MT, sure. NYP, not so much
 
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Devil's Advocate

⠀⠀⠀
Joined
May 24, 2010
Messages
13,852
Location
⠀⠀⠀TX
Most suggestions though well meaning, impose a serious burden on those who really depend on these animals. It is truly sad that the low end of society does things that impact others without caring at all. There just is not an easy answer or quick fix.
What exactly is the problem; that it might add $50 to certify an animal that already costs many thousands to train?
 
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Joined
Jul 23, 2009
Messages
7,664
Location
Washington State
What exactly is the problem; that it might add $50 to certify an animal that already costs many thousands to train?
Yeah, and I might add the hassle those needing them for less obvious disabilities than blindness are probably suffering because far too many people are trying to pass Fluffy off as a "service animal." That would be alleviated by the presence of an easily verifiable registry. Such a thing strikes me as the lesser of two evils.
 

HenryK

Lead Service Attendant
Joined
Jul 12, 2015
Messages
296
I guess they must. I hope passengers with them bring gloves, a bag, and clean up. I'd really hate to think of the results of a dog turd on an NYP platform.
Never been to NYP, but at WAS I just take Trooper out the front door and pee him on the grass. Have to watch out for drug needles, though.

It might seem easy to set up a federal service dog registry, but that would entail a whole new department within, say, DOJ (which administers the ADA) and that would need staffing and salaries and pension funding and stuff. Offices would need to be established in every state so that service dog handlers wouldn't have to travel to Washington for testing and registration of their dogs. Traveling to the nearest office would likely be a real burden for SD handlers. Canadian provinces, in my opinion, have a somewhat unfair but still workable system: there, all SDs must be trained and certified (or, in the case of independently trained dogs, tested) by Assistance Dog International-affiliated outfits. It's expensive to get a dog tested by such an outfit if it hasn't been trained there.
 
Joined
Jul 23, 2009
Messages
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Washington State
I guess I was assuming that all service dogs had to go through some kind of extensive training, that the owner wouldn't generally have the skills to do it themselves.

I'd have also thought that there'd be some kind of accreditation or certificationfor organizations that do the training. What I was thinking that there could be a formal overlay onto an existing system, the accredited organizations send the certs to the registry maintaining bureaucracy. I don't have an issue about adding an office to maintain the registry to DOJ or HHS' CMMS (where it seems it might more logically belong, they do most of the regulation of things medical). Yes, it'd cost some money.

What you seem to be saying, and you'd be in better position to know,is there isn't an existing structure to build on, which I assumed there was, even if largely or entirely non-governmental. In that case, yeah, building it out from scratch to support a registry is a big hill.
 
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