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Amtrak Allows Small Dogs on Trains

Now boarding all dogs! Amtrak has officially said "yes" to welcoming small pets on two of its train lines that travel through the Northeast.

Getting to know the policy

Naturally, there are a few stipulations. The train service told The Washington Post that only pets that weigh 20 pounds or less are welcome, and they must be confined in carry-on bags during the duration of the trip. The pets will be able to go on trains that travel for up to seven hours. However, pet parents are only allowed to bring one dog with them on the train. The current rule asks that there is one pet per human passenger. So, if you have more than one dog, you may need to bring a friend along to travel with all your dogs.

The two lines that are beginning to try out this type of travel include trains that go from Boston through New York and Washington, D.C., and finally arrive in Norfolk, Virginia, and trains that travel from Boston and finally arrive in New Brunswick, Maine.

This is not the first train line to do this. Apparently, the new changes were caused by a pilot program launched in Illinois last year. After more than 200 pets boarded train lines without issue, Amtrak decided to extend its new train service, according to Amtrak spokeswoman Chelsea Kopta.

A long time coming

According to Time magazine, the Illinois pilot began in May 2014 and went through November of that year to determine whether the pilot was a good idea. The pilot was part of the Passenger Rail Reform and Investment Act that was passed by Congress a few months earlier. In it, they suggested that Amtrak adopt a program that allowed passengers to carry their small pets with them while traveling. The act even detailed the rules for the service, such as stowing the pet underneath the seat. The Huffington Post noted Congress had been trying to put pets on Amtrak since 2013 with the Pets On Train Act. Now, the bill finally has come full circle.

While pet parents may be celebrating, it is important to remember this new service is not free. Passengers will have to pay an additional $25 if they want their dog to hop on the train with them. Pets can be kept in one of two places - underneath your seat or stowed in the storage area - where conditions need to be comfortable for pets. The Illinois train lines allowed passengers to carry their pets on their laps, but the current rules for the Northeastern lines do not specify that.

Regardless of the pets people choose to bring, the pet cannot be dirty, have a smell or cause noticeable disruptions. Also, pets need to be 8 weeks or older, which means no puppies on the train! If passengers prefer to sit in the cafe car or business car, their dogs will not be able to accompany them.

Before boarding the train, pet parents will need to check in with Amtrak personnel 30 minutes prior to departure to hand over any paperwork and confirm that the dog is OK to travel. All of his vaccinations should be up to date and he should be in overall good health and be able to withstand a seven-hour train ride without issue.

While the service is only welcoming small dogs on the train right now, hopefully they will welcome larger furry friends in the future. 

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Posted on Oct 23, 2015 by VOYCE Lifestyle