Posted: Aug. 20, 2013, 2:10 p.m. EDT
A bill winding its way through Congress would allow Amtrak passengers to bring their caged cat or dog aboard.
The legislation has the support of 18 congressional co-sponsors and the Pet Industry Joint Advisory Council.
"The Pets on Trains Act is a win-win,” said Mike Canning, president and CEO of the Washington, D.C., trade group. "Airlines have been permitting pets on flights for years. Fares for pets vary from airline to airline, as do regulations, but at least air travel has given pet owners an option.”
A bipartisan bill would compel Amtrak to lift its ban on domestic cats and dogs.
The law would designate a "pet car” on each train and permit a fee to be charged for the service. In addition, all cats or dogs would have to travel in crates and no trip could exceed 750 miles.
Amtrak operates more than 300 trains a day, reaching 46 states, the District of Columbia and three Canadian provinces.
The railroad today allows only service animals to travel
on its trains. Besides household pets, banned from the trains are comfort animals, search and rescue dogs, and police dogs.
Many other nations, including France, Germany and Italy, welcome pets on passenger trains.
"For many of us, our animals are family,” Canning
said. "But there are also practical reasons for individuals or families to desire to have their pets
traveling with them: lack of available boarding or dog-sitting options back home, the potential, unhealthy stress inflicted on pet owner and pet created by separation, or very simply, the desire for travelers to have one’s companion animal with them at their final destination.”
The bipartisan bill was introduced in May and referred to a congressional committee. The website GovTrack.us
gives the legislation a 49 percent chance of becoming law.
, a website that invites public comment on federal legislation, compiled a range of views on HR 2066.
The law, a New York resident wrote, "not only benefits pet owners but also Amtrak as well, due to the extra fees that will be added to tickets.”
An opponent from Arizona was concerned about the potential stench.
"Ask any Amtrak employee why they keep the temperature of passenger cars low enough to hang meat in and they will gladly tell you that if they turn the temperature up the odor would be unbearable,” one person wrote. "Throw domesticated animals into the mix and you have a recipe for disaster.”
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