Small pets on the train? Via Rail says yes, on Québec City to Windsor route

Some pets will now be allowed in the Via Rail Québec City to Windsor corridor, but they must be placed in carriers and passengers need to reserve in advance.

The transportation company is allowing passengers to bring some pets on board in carriers

Via Rail is permitting small cats and dogs on the passenger cabin, as long as they're placed in a well-ventilated carrier up to a certain size. (Shutterstock/a katz)

Via Rail is allowing some pets on board their trains in the Québec City to Windsor corridor, but they must be placed in carriers measuring a maximum of 55 x 40 x 27 cm (21.5 x 15.5 x 10.5 in). 

The transportation company announced Wednesday that "small cats and dogs" will be welcome if they are placed in leak-proof and well-ventilated carriers. The carriers are to be placed at the passenger's feet.

Windsor/Essex County Humane Society executive director Melanie Coulter approves the new policy.

"I think it's a good thing and we have had people who were looking at moving and having difficulties getting their pets moved," said Coulter.

She mentioned an example of a woman who recently was moving to Toronto by train and "ended up surrendering" her pet because she wasn't able to bring the pet on the train with her.

If your pet has on some extra pounds and needs a bigger carrier, Via Rail may not allow them on. (Victoria Malone)

Chubby pets beware

Coulter said people need to make sure the pets are used to the carriers before they're placed in them before a trip. 

"You want to get them used to the carrier by leaving it open, letting them sleep in there, get to experience it in non-stressful times," Coulter said. Bringing the pet's favourite toy for a longer trip could help reduce the animal's stress levels as well.

While Via Rail is allowing the carriers in the passenger cabins, the animals cannot leave their carrier at any time. And the company says they need to be attended to during the trip and must be able to stand up, turn around and lie down in the carrier.

What that means is if your cat or dog have some extra pounds on, your pet may not fit the bill.

"It sounds like they would want [the carrier] to fit under the seat with those dimensions," she said. 

The company says they will take accommodation measures for passengers with allergies.

Via Rail is charging $50 plus tax per one-way trip if you want to bring your pet with you. You also need to book in advance, because there is a maximum number of pets — three —  allowed per departure.

The spokesperson for the company said in an email the maximum number does not include service and emotional support dogs.

"The number of animals is limited to two in Economy Class and one in Business Class," said Mylène Bélanger. "It gives us more flexibility to relocate any traveller with pet allergies."