Riders are barking about Metra’s pet policy and thousands are petitioning for the commuter railroad to allow small animal carriers in their cars.
Rena Church, of Aurora, began her online petition in August, asking Metra to modify its pet prohibition and allow small animal carriers aboard the trains.
Metra’s current policy only permits service animals assisting customers with disabilities.
As Church argues, the Chicago Transit Authority allows service animals and small pets in carriers and several major airlines have similar guidelines.
“There is no reason my pet should be allowed on a plane but not on a train, if properly in a pet carrier,” Katherine Dussman wrote on the page at Change.org.
One commenter on the petition said the train agency’s pet policy left her stranded after she tried to bring her cat on the train following a trip to the vet.
“It’s honestly ridiculous that a person with a small, quiet pet locked in a crate can’t get on a train,” said Emily Schick.
Other signers say relaxing the pet policy would encourage more riders on trains, but Metra reportedly claims the policy is intended to keep rides safe and comfortable.
The Pets on Trains Act of 2013 intends to open doors on Amtrak and permit four-legged companions on rail journeys in a designated “pet car.”
“Pets on Trains is a simple, common-sense bill that would save millions of pet owners time and money and allow them to bring beloved companions along when traveling via train,” Congressman Jeff Denham (R-CA) said in a statement. “My French bulldog, Lily, is part of our family and travels with us all the time—we never want to leave her behind.”
And Metra riders echoed that cry.
“Pets are part of the family,” said commenter Iris Nedas. “They should be allowed to accompany their owners if no danger to others.”
“I don’t have a car, so the only convenient way I can visit my family in the suburbs is by taking Metra,” said commenter Colleen Opal. “Since I can’t leave my dog home alone for a full day or two, I usually can’t visit my family at all. Instead, I have to ask my family to drive out here to pick me up or rent a car for the day; both of these options are expensive and more time consuming.”
Metra spokeswoman Carolyn Tucker said the agency may review its pet policy if approached by petitioners, but said it depends on the results of the petition.
“We’re always willing to explore new thoughts, but right now the policy is as it’s stated,” she said.
The petition has garnered more than 3,000 signatures, but according the site it is looking to get 1,826 signatures more.