Congressional Leaders & Pet Industry Join Forces at D.C.'s Union Station to Support the Pets on Trains Act

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Congressional Leaders and the Pet Industry Join Forces at Washington, D.C.'s Union Station in Support of the Pets on Trains Act of 2013

Hallmark Channel’s Pet Lifestyle Expert Laura Nativo joins rally just in time for busiest travel day of the year!

WASHINGTON, D.C. — An estimated 29.1 million Americans have traveled with a pet in the past three years[1] - and with the busiest travel days coming up next week, that number will escalate - but given the current regulations on national rail transportation, the Pet Industry Joint Advisory Council (PIJAC) knows they did not do it by train.  The Pets on Trains Act of 2013 would open the doors on Amtrak and permit four-legged companions to join their owners on rail journeys. 

“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,” said Congressman Jeff Denham (R-CA).  “My French bulldog, Lily, is part of our family and travels with us all the time – we never want to leave her behind.”

Congressman Denham, the sponsor of H.R. 2066 – The Pets on Trains Act of 2013, was joined at Union Station’s Columbus Plaza by the bill’s original co-sponsors Rep. Steve Cohen (D-TN) and Rep. Michael Grimm (R-NY).  Rep. John Campbell (R-CA), also co-sponsor, was unable to attend today’s press conference.

H.R. 2066 proposes:

  • Amtrak must designate a “pet car” on each train that has more than one car
  • trip cannot be more than 750 miles
  • pets must be crated 
  • pet kennels are to be stowed as per Amtrak baggage policies
  • additional fees are required

A companion bill, S.B. 1710, has been introduced in the Senate by Senator Sheldon Whitehouse (D-RI).

Amtrak carried a record 737,537 passengers during Thanksgiving 2012, an increase of 1.9 percent over the previous year and the prior record set in 2011.  In 2012, the Wednesday before Thanksgiving, was the single busiest day in the history of Amtrak with 140,691 passengers. Ticket revenues were a best ever $56.1 million, up 8.4 percent from 2011. By allowing pets on trains, Amtrak numbers would not only increase at Thanksgiving, their numbers would consistently do well throughout the year.

 “Those of us lucky enough to have pets are greatly blessed with their companionship,” said Congressman Cohen. “When traveling on Amtrak, families should be able to bring their pets along.  Our bill would establish a pet policy on Amtrak trains so pets – which are a part of the family – won’t be left at home to fend for themselves.”

“To any pet owner, a pet is a part of the family,” said Representative Michael Grimm. “Currently, travelers are put in the difficult position where they are forced to choose between taking the train and leaving their pet behind.  As someone who travels frequently between New York and DC, I would welcome the option to travel with my dog, Sebastian.  I am proud to support this legislation that will allow Amtrak travelers the opportunity to travel with their pets without being forces to drive or put their pet through the stress of flying.”

 “The pet industry embraces Pets on Trains legislation because we understand the benefits traveling together has to pet owners, as well as the pets themselves,” said Mike Canning, president & CEO of the Pet Industry Joint Advisory Council. “ Legislation like this also brings together two powerhouse industries as economic generators – and will have a positive effect on the economies of cities along the rail route.”

The travel and tourism industry, according to the U.S. Travel Association has a $2 trillion impact generating $129 billion in taxes.  According to a survey, 47% of leisure travelers own dogs and 40% of those bring their dogs along on trips.  Knowing that those pet owners generate $55 billion for the pet industry[2], Canning contends that opening up rail travel is a “win-win” for both business and pet owners.

“Like the 29 million dedicated pet parents who have traveled with a pet in the last 3 years, I take Preston with me everywhere,” said Laura Nativo Hallmark Channel’s pet lifestyle expert and certified dog trainer.  “I won't go anywhere my dog is not welcome. I won't spend money anywhere my dog is not welcome. I would be more than happy to buy a ticket on Amtrak for my dog, as would the millions of other travelers, many of whom, support the 50+ billion dollar pet industry.  That is why I support the Pets on Trains Act of 2013.“

Presently, only service dogs are permitted on Amtrak. 

Also ‘paw-resent’ at the press conference were Congressman Jeff Denham’s French Bulldog, Lily, Congressman Grimm’s rescue Yorkie, Sebastian with a host of canine accomplices from the Washington Humane Society, all in support of the Pets on Trains Act of 2013.

Pet owners and advocates can help influence Congress by going directly to and following the prompts to contacting their elected representatives on Capitol Hill.


[1] Travel Industry Association of America

[2] American Pet Products Association