Perhaps you heard about the kerfuffle between singer Jann Arden and Via Rail last weekend. [caption id="" align="aligncenter" width="300" caption="(image via Wikipedia)"][/caption] Arden boarded the train in Toronto Sunday morning, en route to a show in Ottawa that evening. Her travelling companion was her pet morkie, Midi. Before getting on the train, Arden, per protocol, passed through three checkpoints at Union Station: having her ticket verified before getting on an escalator leading up to the train platform; being pointed to the correct passenger car once at the top of the escalator; and being greeted by a staff member at the door to the passenger car. The entire time, Arden says, Midi’s head was popped out of her carrying case. It wasn’t until the train was approaching Oshawa, about a 35-minute ride east of Toronto, that a Via staff member noticed the dog. The problem? Via’s policy:
“Pets – excluding guide dogs – are not allowed in passenger cars. They must travel in the baggage car, which means aboard trains that offer checked baggage service.”Arden was given a choice: move Midi to the baggage area or disembark the train in Oshawa. Arden chose the latter. As she explained in a note on her Facebook page, “I would no more do that to my dog [put her in baggage] than I would my mother.” Arden took to Twitter to voice her displeasure. Via apologized for the incident the same day, saying they should have flagged things in Toronto, but reiterated their policy on pets. The debate between the wants of passengers wishing to travel with their pets versus the needs of passengers with allergies to animals is not new. In this case, the fault goes both ways: a little more so with Arden and her assistant who booked the ticket, who should have looked into Via’s policy on travelling with pets; and with Via, where someone should have spoken up sooner. Was Via right in its ultimatum? Do you think pets should be allowed to stay with their owners on a train? Or should a car be set aside for people travelling with pets?