VIA Rail has a Change of Heart and Allows Small Dogs Onboard!

It’s always been a source of great annoyance in our family that the Canadian train company VIA Rail, wasn’t as forward thinking as so many others we’ve had the pleasure to ride. It’s tough to go to France, Switzerland, Italy, Czech Republic and on and on and on…. only to return home and be limited to driving the car as a way to get around.

VIA Rail has a Change of Heart and Allows Small Dogs Onboard Montecristo Travels Canada

I’ve done this a hundred times now! Old hat!

It’s extra frustrating with the extreme weather we experience here in the winter. Oh how nice it would be to travel in the safety of a train rather than risk life and limb on the icy, snow covered highways! We’ve had to do this every winter for the last 7 years as we go visit family in Quebec City.

But no more! We never thought we’d see the day but VIA has changed it’s mind and is currently in a pilot project for the Windsor to Quebec City corridor! AND they have a great VIA Rail Pet Travel Information page to guide you as well!

VIA Rail has a Change of Heart and Allows Small Dogs Onboard Montecristo Travels Canada

Pompadour’s FIRST train ride! She did well!

The process is  easy enough. You book your ticket a minimum 48 hours before over the phone and mention you are travelling with a small dog (one per person). Dogs cost an extra $50 per trip and you do have to pay that fee in person at the station before boarding. So allow a little extra time for this.

VIA Rail has a Change of Heart and Allows Small Dogs Onboard Montecristo Travels Canada

Basically it’s a full on boarding pass!

We never waited more than 5 minutes and this was during the holidays – the busiest time of year. They then register you, give you a tag/ticket to put on the carrier and off you go!

VIA Rail has a Change of Heart and Allows Small Dogs Onboard Montecristo Travels Canada

Dad getting the dog boarding passes! (Quebec City small station)

The rules are the same as with a plane for the most part:

  • The pet must be kept under control and must be attended at all times in the station and while on board the train.
  • The pet must always remain in the carrier.
  • The pet must remain on Floor at the passenger’s feet.
  • The pet must not be left unattended in any public or private area such as a washroom.
  • Under no condition can the pet carrier be placed on the seat.
  • Considering the shape and structure of the seats in our cars, animal carriers cannot be stowed under your seat or the seat in front of you. They must therefore remain on the floor at your feet or between your legs.

However…. we did find that there was a lot of … wiggle room… in that no one cared overly much if the top flap of the carrier was open. This allowed for some petting, a quick drink, food … or just a kiss.

VIA Rail has a Change of Heart and Allows Small Dogs Onboard Montecristo Travels Canada

Waiting for the train. I am trying out the MISO PUP carrier. Baby sister is in my One For Pet.

Whenever possible (99% of the time) the $50 buys you the seat next to you. So that means that travelling with your dog is SUPER spacious and comfy.

VIA Rail has a Change of Heart and Allows Small Dogs Onboard Montecristo Travels Canada

No one seemed to care that the carrier was on the seat rather than the floor.

At first the bipeds were a little annoyed. They wanted to sit together – all of us. But because we now travel with two dogs, they got split up. After the first hour of our 6 hour journey we had all settled into the comfort of that extra space. No more complaints here!

Honestly, this is how we will travel when going to Quebec City. It’s just more relaxing for everyone. I got to use my pee pad in the bathroom as often as I wanted, the bipeds were far less exhausted since they could sleep, read, watch a movie on their devices or whatever.

VIA Rail has a Change of Heart and Allows Small Dogs Onboard Montecristo Travels Canada

I have to admit – she did well for her first time!

Plus we went for little walks. Yes, in my carrier but still… it was a welcome distraction! Off we went walking the length of our cart a few times at the longer stop in Montreal (Ottawa – Montreal – Quebec City).

Staff were super cool about it all. You could see they had been trained. The bipeds didn’t have to inform them of their own policy as happens far to often!  The stewart that had the food trolley on our way to Quebec even found me a little slice of ham as a treat! YAY!

And fun side note, there were 2 other dogs on the trip to Quebec. Although we were the only ones on the return ride home.

VIA Rail has a Change of Heart and Allows Small Dogs Onboard Montecristo Travels Canada

Little sis Pompadour got a bit “vocal” so we covered her carrier up and she just went to sleep!

At long last, we have a better option for going to the airport in Montreal as well! And yes, I begrudgingly will admit that baby sister Pompadour did rather well for her first trip. An occasional bark, and a little restlessness but … well done little sis. Well done. You did us proud.

28 Comments on “VIA Rail has a Change of Heart and Allows Small Dogs Onboard!

  1. I Really love your articles and your blog. Keep up the good work. Please try to cover Dog Treadmill/Dog pacer in your next post I want to know your feedback about it. I’m thinking to buy one but not really sure can you please cover this topic in your next post.

    Thanks

  2. That’s awesome! The commuter trains around where we live allow dogs in carriers, but the more long distance travel trains don’t. It’s nice that we can get around locally via train with the dogs but I always wished they’d be allowed on the long distance travel trains. My family lives a couple of hours drive away from me. It’d be so amazing to be able to take a train to visit them, but we always get stuck driving since we always want to bring the dogs along.

  3. That’s wonderful news! I wonder how many more passengers they’ll get as a result of this experiment? There are definitely times when trains are the easier, more convenient way to travel. Now if only Eurostar would allow dogs on the train!

  4. That is awesome, I remember when I ran with Baby RIP and took a train to San Francisco Caltrans did not make it easy for me at the time but we did it and I am happy things have changed. I love train rides more than flying as I love to see the countryside so this would be awesome to do with Layla. She would be happy sleeping in her bag. Thanks for all the great info

  5. Wow – this is totally wonderful and unexpected news! We live in WA state and have often thought of going to Canada via rail, but the fact that we want to travel with our pups has limited us in this way. It’s interesting and I truly hope that this grows and we’ll be able to wander all through Canada (so beautiful on the train)!

  6. I love that the trains allow small dogs! I think our local commuter train does during some hours, but I have never tried it. Buffy, at 30 pounds, is a bit too big. I would like it if we could just buy an extra seat ticket and bring our larger dogs on board as well.

  7. How great that they have had a change of heart and are running what seems to be a great pilot scheme. Sensible rules that any dog owner is going to have no trouble sticking too.

    Well done VIA Rail, and well rested Mum and Dad!

  8. Such great news! It’s wonderful when organizations become more forward thinking and allow pets. On public transport here pets are allowed, but must be in a carrier. I believe there are different rules for service animals. I just love seeing a cute pet during my commute.

  9. Good to hear. Looking at the statistics of pet ownership, I think steering away from allowing pets is a dumb policy.

  10. Oh the perks of having tiny dogs. Glad to hear that you can travel with them easier now and that they are such great travelers. Unfortunately, even our smallest pack member is too big to fit in a carrier small enough to fly or go on a train or bus. So, if we travel, we have to take the big ol SUV so we can pile everyone in. It’s worth the effort to all be together though!

    • I hope that one day it will be like in Europe and big dogs can just buy a kids ticket, put on a muzzle and bring a blanket… TADA!!

  11. I wonder if that would apply to cats as well? Hey if they’re in a carrier who would know? In the states Amtrak allows cats and small dogs as long as their carrier fits under your seat. They have stay there throughout the trip so they aren’t allowed on a trip over 7 hours and aren’t allowed in the bedrooms.

  12. That is great news! Several years ago a friend of ours was visiting from NYC and wasn’t allowed to bring his dog on the train. It was very disheartening as he doesn’t have a car. I think Amtrak now lets small pets in carriers on the train.

  13. Hooray for progress! Wow, your trains are really nice, nothing like the gross transit system in New York LOL! Enjoy the ride!
    Love & Biscuits,
    Dogs Luv Us and We Luv Them

    • Our trains are at odds with the rest of the world though. Ironic as it is the best trains we have been on in Europe are made by Bombardier… a Canadian company. They are LIGHT years ahead of the ones we have here. It’s messed up!

  14. I know I’ve said this before, but I love armchair traveling with you! I chuckle thinking of my Huskies traveling on a train…they would need to be free and greet everyone! BOL! But it is fun to fantasize, so I will live vicariously through your pups’ travels!

    • Not in most of Europe. I have seen DANES travel on trains. You just need to buy a kids ticket and have a muzzle and blanket for the seat. I love that.

  15. “Everything was put together perfectly. It’s difficult to say what was the best part of the article. It was all put together so well.”

    Finally, I can travel with my dog “Bruno”. Hassle-free travel and both of us will chill in their respective seats

  16. I love traveling with my Petique Feline as well, glad that one-zip bags and pet house are available for comfy and cozy travels for the fur ball and the excited pet parent

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