Should we allow pets on public transport?
Pets can travel first class on trains throughout Europe, fly on domestic airlines and wait patiently by our legs while we finish off lunch at a café, but they’re still not allowed on our public transport.
It’s a standard that Dogs NSW is trying to change after Sydney’s Inner West Light Rail recently revised their rules. They had previously allowed large leashed dogs on board but altered it soon after to bring them in line with other public transport providers. That means travel for animals is restricted to a box or carrier.
The laws of pets on public transport vary from state to state, but generally pets are restricted from trains and can only brought on board a ferry or bus if in a cage. Of course, the exception to the rule is assistance animals which are allowed on all forms of public transport.
Dr Peter Higgins, a veterinary adviser to Dogs NSW, says, “Responsible dog ownership means that suitably trained dogs should be permitted on all public transport whether they are dedicated assistance dogs or family pets.”
Dogs NSW chairman Brian Crump believes that Australia needs to take a leaf from Europe and allow pets on all forms of transport.
“I've travelled first class on the TGV from Paris to Bordeaux with dogs sound asleep under the seat, beautifully behaved, well socialised and no one takes any notice,” he told the Sydney Morning Herald. “You don't find people screaming, ‘Oh fleas’.”
Considering assistance dogs, such as guide dogs, are universally accepted on public transport in Australia, Dog NSW believes that well-trained dogs should be allowed to travel on public transport too. They point to the fact that many people who don’t have access to cars might need to use public transport to visit the vet, boarding kennels, dog parks, as well as wanting their companion during visits to friends or family.
Dr Higgins stresses that with rights comes responsibilities. “Dog owners must train their dogs in all senses from an early age. Indeed if they are not trained, they should not be allowed in any form of public space, much less public transport,” he said, adding, “They need to be well behaved and unobtrusive. This is part of basic responsible dog ownership.”
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