U.S. Representative Jeff Denham (R-Turlock) recently re-introduced his bill, the Pets on Trains Act to allow pets to board certain Amtrak trains.
Originally introduced in the 113th Congress on May 21, 2013, the legislation is geared toward alleviating the stress of traveling for pet owners by requiring Amtrak to implement a pet policy. For a fee, passengers would be able to carry small domesticated cats and dogs in a pet kennel on board trains.
“This legislation builds on the success of that pilot program and would help families nationwide save money and time in traveling with their pets while bringing in much-needed revenue for Amtrak,” said Denham.
Per the bill, Amtrak would have flexibility in developing details of the policy to best fit their needs, as well as customer needs, and would ultimately benefit from the increased revenue generation from the fees.
In April 2014, a six-month pilot program with Amtrak and the State of Illinois was established for pets on trains, of which it will be expanded for an additional year. Upon the pilot program’s initiation in 2013, Amtrak President and CEO Joe Boardman expressed favor for the legislation stating that the company continues to be supportive of accommodating pets on trains.
Since 2013, Denham has formed a working group with the Humane Society of the United States (HSUS), the Pet Industry Joint Advisory Council (PIJAC), the Federal Railroad Administration, and Amtrak to explore the issue further.
“The Pets on Trains Act would allow more pet owners to include their four-legged companions on family trips,” said Mike Bober, Executive Vice President of PIJAC, representing pet owners and the businesses catering to them. “We’re proud to support Congressman Denham’s efforts to introduce ‘pet parity’ to rail travel.”
The bill has unleashed bipartisan support with U.S. Representative Steve Cohen (D-TN) having signed on as an original co-sponsor to the bill, and U.S. Senator Sheldon Whitehouse (D-RI) introducing a nearly identical companion bill in the Senate in 2013.
“For many Americans, pets are simply part of the family—and all of us lucky enough to have pets are incredibly blessed by the companionship they provide,” said Cohen. “I am proud to work with my friend, Congressman Denham, on this important legislation to ensure families can bring their pets when traveling on Amtrak and that pets aren’t left behind to fend for themselves.”
Wayne Pacelle, president and CEO of The Humane Society of the United States also expressed favor for the bill, calling it common sense legislation that will help pet owners.