Dogs (and other pets) allowed!
VIA Rail’s pet policy recently made headlines. While we have always collected customer feedback through market research, email, phone calls and in-person interactions, we have recently added social media to our toolset. Although sometimes the comments can be quite brutal, we appreciate the feedback. It challenges us to look at what we do with a fresh perspective and may ultimately lead to improvements.
So, following that coverage, we looked at our pet policy and found it to be appropriate for the following reasons:
– Hygiene: While our cars are cleaned before and after each departure, pet hair can get into tough to reach places and contribute to a dirty environment. Additionally, some pets are well potty trained and others, not so well trained. This makes it difficult for us to allow some pets but others. Finally, we do have food and food preparation stations on board that we need to keep clean, similar to restaurants.
– Sensitivity/allergies: Certain pets are hypoallergenic. However, this doesn’t mean that they will not affect allergy sufferers, only that the breed may be more compatible with allergy sufferers than other breeds – even this is not certain. Since some allergy sufferers cannot be near animals at all, VIA Rail offers a pet-free travel environment where they know they will not be affected.
– Space restrictions: You may have noticed that we have a few different types of equipment. Since the size and shape of cages can also vary, we can’t guarantee the necessary space for pets to sit with their owners on all of our trains.
It is important to note that passengers travelling with pets may still do so on certain trains when baggage car services are available. VIA Rail has recently increased the number of routes with trains offering baggage car service in order to accommodate the needs of more passengers, and pet owners can also take advantage of this service. During the trip, owners can make arrangements with our staff at any time to visit with their pet, and on longer trips, pets can be taken off the train briefly at longer stops.
Also of note is that all service animals certified by accredited trainers are accepted on board VIA trains, not just seeing-eye dogs.
Some comments have suggested creating special passenger cars where pets are allowed to travel with their owners. After reviewing this suggestion, we determined that limited equipment availability and the process of cycling this equipment to other trains, where it may no longer be a special passenger car, makes this an operational challenge and one that we can’t pursue at this time.
We’ve decided to leave things as they are, at least for the time being. Creating a pleasant and enjoyable travel experience for all of our passengers is still our priority, and there’s still the opportunity for passengers to travel with their pets. We’ll continue to collect feedback on the policy and revisit it over time.
Your feedback is always appreciated, and we’d be happy to hear from you in the comments below or using the VIAevolution email contact form.