Should dogs be allowed on Montreal's Metro?

Ana Luisa Vilches Saldivar says she wants to enjoy all the summer fun Montreal has to offer without leaving her best friend at home.

Montreal woman launches petition calling on the STM to let dogs ride without being in a crate or carrier

Ana Luisa Vilches Saldivar wants her dog, Lola, to ride Montreal's Metro. (Submitted by Ana Luisa Vilches Saldivar)

Ana Luisa Vilches Saldivar says she wants to enjoy all the summer fun Montreal has to offer without leaving her best friend at home.

But Montreal's public transit agency has strict rules when it comes to pets. 

People with vision or mobility impairments may be accompanied by guide or service dogs, but all others must remain inside cages or other closed carriers, the STM says.

Saldivar wants that rule to change so Montrealers who don't own cars can get out and about in the city with their dog.

"I would like to go into the Metro with my dog. It's just that simple," she told CBC Montreal's Daybreak.

"My dog is 28 kilos. It's not possible to bring her in a cage. Especially because we don't have elevators in all the Metro stations."

So, in an effort to allow her dog to ride with her, she launched an online petition calling on the STM to change its rules. The petition got more than 250 signatures in just a couple days.

A new petition is asking the STM to let dogs ride the Metro without necessarily being in a cage. It says that although Montreal is full of outdoor activities in the summer, people who own dogs, and don't own cars, have a tough time bringing their dogs beyond their own neighbourhoods. Currently, the STM says pets "must at all times remain inside a cage or other closed carrier designed for that purpose." We speak with Ana Luisa Vilches Saldivar, a Verdun resident who started the petition. 8:02

Dogs allowed in other places

Travelling in Barcelona recently, Vilches Saldivar saw that dogs are allowed on the subway system.

Dogs there need a muzzle and a leash 50 centimetres or shorter, she said, and these types of rules could be applied in Montreal to ensure everybody is safe.

Ana Luisa Vilches Saldivar says her dog is fine with people, but she'd be happy to muzzle her animal if that's what it takes to bring her on the Metro. (Isaac Olson/CBC)

"I know my dog is totally cool with people, but I would totally agree with making him wear a muzzle because I know we should respect the public space," Vilches Saldivar said.

In Madrid, dogs are only allowed in the first or last wagon. And in Vienna, dog owners only have to buy their dog a ticket — half the usual fare.

"I know there are a lot of people who are allergic or just afraid of dogs, and I respect that," she said.

Vilches Saldivar thinks allowing pets only in designated wagons would mean other riders can avoid the dogs if needed.

STM not willing to bend the rules

The STM said fines ranging from $75 to $500 can be issued to people who ignore its rules about pets.

A spokesperson for the agency said it's not willing to change those rules, which have been in place since 2003 for security reasons, and because some clients have allergies or phobias when it comes to dogs.

Regardless, Vilches Saldivar is pushing forward with her effort. She said it's her first time taking on a cause like this, but it is something she believes strongly in.

"I just refuse to accept that people in some other cities can live like this and we can't," she said.

With files from CBC Montreal's Daybreak


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