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Posted on Fri, May 24, 2013 : 6 a.m.

Amtrak passengers may be able to bring pets aboard trains if proposed bill passes

By Lorrie Shaw


Flickr photo by Photo Co.

Train travel has a certain quality that sets it apart from other forms of travel: you can see America from a very different vantage point than you would being behind the wheel yourself, or in the cramped seat of an aircraft.

For those with a penchant for wanderlust and a desire to include their pets may have another option: a bill introduced in Congress this week if passed, could enable them to take their pets along if they book their transportation on Amtrak.

Two members of the House of Representatives introduced legislation on Tuesday that would allow you, as a passenger, to travel with your domesticated cat or dog on Amtrak.

Currently, only service animals are allowed.

Rep. Jeff Denham, R-Calif., was one if the sponsors that introduced the bill.

“My dog, Lily, is a part of our family and travels with us to and from California all the time. If I can take her on a plane, why can’t I travel with her on Amtrak, too? Allowing families to bring their animals with them will facilitate transportation and efficiency while also providing a much-needed source of revenue for Amtrak."

He added, "Those of us lucky enough to have pets are greatly blessed with their companionship. When traveling on Amtrak, families should be able to bring their pets along."

Trips that include pets would be limited to 750 miles or less, and additional fee would apply. One car of each train would be designated for passengers with pets.

How you feel about the prospect of pets being allowed on Amtrak?

Lorrie Shaw leads the pets section for Connect with her on Google+ and follow her daily adventures as a professional pet sitter or email her directly.



Sat, May 25, 2013 : 4:08 p.m.

This is WONDERFUL news!! BUT....will there be size restrictions? Will the pets have to be crated? I do have a crate and he is crate-trained but my dog is 75 lbs. It would be difficult for me to travel alone with him in a crate. I assume we can be WITH our pet, correct? They won't be in a separate car? Will we need vet papers? Will cats and dogs be in the same car? What are the rules about letting the pets out of the crate? Potty breaks? Feeding time?


Tue, May 28, 2013 : 12:28 a.m.

Some of your answers are in the bill itself (see the link). The animals will be considered carryon baggage or cargo (possibly Amtrak has a choice as to which; it makes the difference between "same car as humans" and "in the cargo car"). This definitely sounds like crates are required. I would guess that potty and food breaks will be whatever the owner can manage to do, when and if the train has a long stop. As for schlepping the crate ... some stations have porters. And you can probably get crates with wheels. However, it sounds like a 75 pound dog is going to be a big hassle.


Fri, May 24, 2013 : 9:30 p.m.

A cat? I really hope they use a carrier for that one. Cats are not prone to travel as dogs are. As for plane flight? Your dog has to be in a carrier and about the size of a carry on. Could Become a Noahs Ark if this is not restricted.

Little Patience

Fri, May 24, 2013 : 3:18 p.m.

I'm not one to travel with my pets (one gets motion sickness, the other is too anxious without the other one), but many would probably enjoy this. My questions are 1) how will they enforce that the pets are properly vaccinated - will Amtrak require proof before the pet can board? and 2) what about potty breaks?


Fri, May 24, 2013 : 2:23 p.m.

no thanks... ain't kids bad enough?


Fri, May 24, 2013 : 9:31 p.m.

You can ride on top. This way you get enough fresh air and not have to deal with us pet lovers who want to travel with Fido.


Fri, May 24, 2013 : 2:07 p.m.

YES!!! would SO help solve my weekends to Chicago and having to board the dog. Sure hope it passes!!!


Fri, May 24, 2013 : 1:38 p.m.

My lions and snakes would consider it a dinning car!


Fri, May 24, 2013 : 1:09 p.m.

This is great! I used to travel to and from Illinois pretty often and sometimes had to cancel plans or drive because I had no pet-care. More than once I cursed Amtrak for not letting me take my cat with me. I hope this passes, I may frequent Amtrak more often again.


Fri, May 24, 2013 : 12:52 p.m.

I love it! To designate a car for pets could be good and bad but it's a, how about cars for those w/o kids too?

Tom Joad

Fri, May 24, 2013 : 10:51 a.m.

I'm all for it. That would be a great source of comfort to those passengers who feel anxious about traveling.