If you love traveling with your pet, I have two pieces of really good news!
Pets on Trains Act
Recently, in a rare “bi-paw-tisan” moment, House legislators approved an Amtrak funding bill that will allow some pets to ride the rails along with their owners! The Pets on Trains Act was tucked into the much larger Passenger Rail Reform and Investment Act, which sought to fund the railway for four more years.
The Pets on Trains Act has some stipulations, of course. If your pet happens to be a Great Dane or something more exotic (snakes on a train, anyone?), you’re out of luck. For now, the program will designate one car per train for pets (cats and dogs only) and their owners, and the pet must fit in a carry-on luggage sized carrier. In addition, riders would need to pay extra for their pet to ride.
It is likely that the program will be similar to the trial program that has been offered for select Illinois routes. In this program, pets cost an additional $25 each way and cannot exceed a 20 pound weight limit. As with airline travel, pets in carriers are meant to be stowed under the seat like carry-on luggage, so if you have a particularly anxious pup or cat, this type of travel might not be for them.
For now, the program will be limited to trains in the Northeast Corridor between Boston and Washington, D.C., but if the program is successful, pets could be riding the rails nationwide before we know it! There is one last hitch—the bill still needs to pass the Senate, though with the support of the Obama administration, it should be on track to do just that.
The ARK at JFK
For those of you who prefer air travel, I have more good news out of New York. Soon, animals who travel through John F. Kennedy International Airport will be passing through a state-of-the-art animal handling facility. Dubbed “The Ark”, the $48 million, 178,000 square foot facility will boast a large animal arrival and departure lounge, overnight pet resort and a veterinary emergency center.
Quarantine and transport services will also be offered for large and small animals, and the facility doesn’t stop with your run-of-the-mill dog, cat or horse. 70,000 animals are expected to travel through The Ark annually, including birds, snakes and other wildlife. These posh headquarters will make layovers a little less stressful for pets and owners alike!
There’s no question of the growing role that pets are playing in American families. For many, a vacation is just not the same without all members of the family present and accounted for—even the furry members!
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