Online petition urges TransLink to ease restrictions on its pet policy

Pets are allowed on public transport, not only dogs, but also small birds, rabbits and cats, if they are in small carry-on cages or travel bags.

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An online petition calls on TransLink to ease its pet restrictions to allow well-behaved dogs to travel in backpacks or carry-on bags on public transportation.

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The petition, which had more than 1,200 signatures by mid-afternoon Friday, defines well-behaved dogs as those that don’t bother other passengers by barking, growling, licking, etc.

“Car and gasoline ownership costs are rising and more people are turning to public transportation,” said Portia Zaffaroni, organizer of the petition. “But dog owners are limited as to where they can go with TransLink’s current policies.”

The rare pet-friendly shuttle or taxi services charge an additional fee, he said.

Pets are allowed on public transport, not only dogs, but also small birds, rabbits and cats, if they are in small carry-on cages or travel bags. Larger dogs are allowed if they are an auxiliary pet and are on a harness and leash.

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“TransLink’s pet policy allows pets in transit if they are in a fully enclosed carry-on carrier that can fit on their handler’s lap,” a company spokesperson said via email Friday. “This can include backpacks and closed bags. It is a reflection of the pet policies in place at many other transit agencies in Canada and the US.”

As part of a report to TransLink’s board of directors in December 2018, the last time the company pet policy was reviewed, a “peer agency scan” found that TransLink’s pet policies are consistent with those in place in 19 other out of 25 major cities in Canada and the US, and more restrictive than the other six.

“Based on available information, management’s review suggests that TransLink’s current policy is in alignment with industry practice and strikes an optimal balance in providing an option for customers traveling with pets to use public transportation, without impact unreasonable negatives on other passengers, staff and the public transportation system. ”, the review said.

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“Management recommends that the current policy be maintained, with efforts to continue to monitor industry trends and public sentiment to determine if adjustments are needed in the future.”

The six least restrictive peer agencies were in Boston, Calgary, San Francisco, Seattle, and two in Toronto (TTC and GO Transit).

That still doesn’t address many of the points Zaffaroni raises in her petition, such as when pet owners need to transport their animal out of its home neighborhood: go to the vet, groomer or doggie daycare; head to off-leash parks or hiking trails; visit friends and family; travel to the airport or ferry terminal.

“Currently, TransLink only allows a pet to be ‘kept in small, portable, fully enclosed crates that fit on your lap,’ which greatly restricts travel to owners whose animals weigh less than 15 pounds,” he said. “It is unreasonable to expect dog owners to own a vehicle or pay for a rental car every time they want to travel with their pet.”

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