Dogs and cats new transit passengers

  • Jul. 31, 2013 3:12 p.m.

Some new passengers will be seen riding on Red Deer transit next month.

Starting Aug. 4 small dogs and cats will be allowed to board buses provided they are contained in hand-held crates.

The City of Red Deer will trial the ‘Pets on Board’ program until Jan. 31. Afterwards, the program will be evaluated to determine if it should be made permanent and/or if it should be expanded to include other small pets.

“This is a small change we can make in an effort to become a more pet-friendly City,” said Greg Scott, director of Community Services. “Many cities are going this way to encourage transit use and increase accessibility and quality of life for families with pets. If we want to encourage people to ride transit, we want to open the doors to all members of the family – including the family pet.”

Transit must balance the desire to be pet-friendly with the comfort of all passengers on buses. Restrictions will be in place and include allowing only small dogs and cats, provided they are contained in fully enclosed, clean, hand-held crates appropriate to the animal’s size. All crates must have a solid bottom capable of containing any animal waste; crates must be small enough to fit on the owner’s lap and only one hand-held crate allowed per passenger. Passengers are also responsible for the safety of their pets and must hold onto crates at all times. If there is room on the bus, crates may be placed on the floor beside the owner without blocking the aisle or restricting other passengers. Transit operators may refuse trips if pets misbehave or pose a health or safety risk and when the bus is busy there may not be room for pets. Call Red Deer Transit to find out which trips tend to be busy.

The restrictions do not apply to assistant/service dogs.

City officials said concerns with allergies are minimized when pets are contained in crates, which reduce the spread of dander. If notified by passengers with pet allergies, passengers carrying dogs or cats on board are asked to sit a few rows away.

“It’s a question of respect among passengers,” said Steve Parkin, transit operations superintendent. “If airlines can do this successfully, Red Deer Transit can too. We want to accommodate riders who want to visit our off leash parks or bring their pets to the vet. If the ‘Pets on Board’ trial program runs smoothly and maintains the safety and comfort of all passengers, it can go a long way toward making the City a more accessible place for residents and their pets.”

He added he doesn’t think the demand for pets will be overly high.

“We are a little bit dog unfriendly as a City so we are trying to be more inclusive,” he said. “I think if there is any resistance it will come from those who are allergic to dogs and cats but hopefully we’ve helped solve that issue by making sure they will be crated.”