Bill: Let Pets Ride Amtrak

Congressman calls for pet policy on trips shorter than 750 miles
By Matt Cantor,  Newser Staff
Posted Feb 17, 2015 10:20 AM CST
Bill: Let Pets Ride Amtrak
In this photo taken Feb. 11, 2015, Rep. Jeff Denham, R-Calif. poses with Lily, his 15-pound French bulldog in his office on Capitol Hill in Washington.   (AP Photo/J. Scott Applewhite)

A House lawmaker has come up with a novel way to help Amtrak boost potential passengers: allow furry ones, too. Republican Jeff Denham of California travels by plane with Lily, a French bulldog, but she can't join him on train rides. He's aiming to change that with what he calls a "wildly bipartisan" bill, the AP reports. He's already managed to get Amtrak to try allowing pets on a pair of Illinois routes, and "the experiment has gone well," says an Amtrak rep. "The lack of any negative feedback from customers or crew members is heartening." Now Denham, who oversees a subcommittee related to regulation of the railway system, is looking to make the service nationwide.

The bill "would help families nationwide save money and time in traveling with their pets while bringing in much-needed revenue for Amtrak," Denham says in a press release. Amtrak will look at the idea "carefully, because there are people who very much want this, and there are people who are concerned about how it could affect them," says the Amtrak rep. The change could go forward even without the passage of a bill, the AP notes, but the bill would require Amtrak to come up with a pet policy (the government provides much of Amtrak's funding). Even if Denham is successful, however, don't plan on taking your Great Dane across the country: The goal is for Amtrak to allow pets on trips shorter than 750 miles, and in the Illinois tests, only pets weighing less than 20 pounds are allowed. (More Amtrak stories.)

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