May 23, 2013 -- If a bill that was introduced in Congress this week is passed, Amtrak will be required to allow pets onboard some of its trains.
The bill, introduced by Jeff Denham, R-Calif., states that Amtrak will designate one car of each train where passengers may transport "a domesticated cat or dog in the same manner as carry-on baggage" if the animal can be contained in a pet kennel and the kennel can be stowed in accordance with Amtrak size requirements for carry-on baggage.
"My dog, Lily, is part of our family and travels with us to and from California all the time. If I can take her on a plane, why can't I travel with her on Amtrak, too?" said Denham. "Allowing families to bring their animals with them will facilitate transportation and efficiency while also providing a much-needed source of revenue for Amtrak."
The bill would restrict passengers traveling with pets to trips fewer than 750 miles. It would require passengers to pay a fee.
Passengers with pets who are not able to travel as carry-on baggage would be able to transport their pets as cargo provided the pet kennel "can be stowed in accordance with Amtrak requirements for cargo stowage." The same rules regarding length of trip and extra fees would apply.
The bill is supported by The Humane Society of the United States. "Millions of American families have beloved pets, and allowing them to travel by train will support the human-animal bond," said Wayne Pacelle, president and CEO.
Service animals are already able to travel on Amtrak trains.
Amtrak did not comment on the bill, except to say they are "reviewing the proposal."