An article from Wellington yesterday that caught my attention.
A Wellington vet is suggesting the city council allow dogs on the city’s public transport network, to help make dogs more sociable, and people more comfortable around them.
Allan Probert told councillors on Monday, as he made an oral submission on the council’s Dog Policy review, that he would like to see the law around dogs liberalised, and dogs allowed on public transport as they are in Europe.
“It would help the awareness and the familiarity with dogs, as part of general everyday life.”
Probert agreed on Tuesday people who are afraid of dogs might not like coming across them on a busy bus or train, but said much of that fear relates to people not being familiar with dogs.
There could be a requirement to have dogs on a leash, but said muzzling all dogs in public was going over the top.
This raises the interesting question about whether dogs should be allowed on PT. As I see it there are both good and bad arguments for allowing animals on PT services.
Oddly enough the passengers on my bus yesterday afternoon included this guy who was in training.
On the positive side it could help by remove one small barrier to urban living. As the city continues to develop more and more people will be living in denser urban dwellings while improving transport options will make it more viable for people to live without a car should they wish. But many people also consider pets an important part of their lives and currently cars can be the only option for important trips – such as to the vet. Allowing animals on PT services might just remove that barrier.
As mentioned in the article referenced, many cities do allow animals on PT services. One such city is London which has the following conditions of carriage.
16.1 You can bring an assistance dog with you without charge. You can also bring with you without charge any other dog or inoffensive animal, unless there is a good reason for us to refuse it (such as if the animal seems dangerous). You must keep it under control on a lead or in a suitable container, and must not allow it on a seat. Staff are not allowed to take charge of any animal.
16.2 If you bring an animal with you, for safety reasons you must carry it through automatic ticket gates. If you have an assistance dog, at stations where there is no wide automatic gate, you must ask a member of staff to open the manual gate to allow you to enter or leave a station.
16.3 If you bring an animal with you, you must use a staircase or lift where provided. If there is no staircase or lift and you need to use a moving escalator, you must carry your animal unless you have an assistance dog that has been trained to walk on moving escalators. If your animal is too large to carry, a member of staff will stop the escalator to allow it to travel on it when it is safe to do so (generally outside the rush hours and when the station is not busy).
Essentially animals are allowed but staff are allowed to refuse them if they want (except assistance dogs). That seems like a fairly reasonably stance and as the vet in the article points out, is one taken by many other cities in Europe. In some cases specific breeds are banned while others also require dogs to have a muzzle.
If we were ever to seriously consider such an idea I could also understand if there were rules around certain times they might be allowed i.e. not during the peaks – or in the case of trains, only to be allowed in the middle trailer carriage of a 3-car set.
Of course the downside to the idea is that there are a lot of people out there with either phobias or even allergies to certain animals. As such and depending on the severity, allowing animals on to PT services might result in those people being put off using PT. Although given that guide dogs are already allowed it’s not like you can guarantee your bus or train would never have an animal on board.
So what do you think, allow animals on PT or not and would allowing them change your view on using PT? Personally even if it were allowed I can’t see myself taking my dogs on the train or a bus.