Jump to content




Pets vs Service animals


38 replies to this topic

#1 Guest_gracious Traveler_*

Guest_gracious Traveler_*
  • Guests

Posted 26 February 2017 - 11:09 AM

First of all, Thank You for this forum.

 

I have been taking Coast to Coast Amtrak trips as well as up and down both coats and into Canada for a number of years, so I'm no "newbie".  I have endure trains 2.5 days late (a now well-remembered trip by Amtrak people);  two days with a broken toilet, a freshly urine-stained couch in my bedroom. and other unpleasantries, without complaint.  I don't want to be a bother to train staff.

 

My Sea-to-sea journey last year was marred by more than one issue;  dogs on the train!

 

Amtrak's published guidelines state that all non-service  animals, including "comfort Animals", "Search and Rescue Dogs", and yes, "Police Dogs" are 
Pets", and must be kept in appropriate kennels at all times - in the station and on the train.  These "pets" are not allowed in any area where food is sold or consumed.  

Clear?

 

An allowed "Service Animal" must be "trained to perform a specific task for the benefit of a person with disabilities".  These trained animals must be properly documented and must be identified.  They must be on the floor at the side of their owners at all times; which they are trained to do.

 

Why, then was a woman allowed to bring her dog into the Dining Car, be given a seat, and allowed to feed from the table in front of me?  When confronted, she said, I can't do anything without "Pookie".  "I need Pookie!"

 

When I asked both the Dining Car Host and the conductor about this, their bemused response was; "'Comfort animal'.  Legal'".  Wrong on both counts.  According to 

Amtrak, Pookie is not a service animal by definition, and it was not to be allowed in the Dining Car.

 

Does anyone know if this has been corrected?  I will appreciate any knowledge before embarking with print-outs of all of the rules this year.



#2 BCL

BCL

    Engineer

  • Members
  • PipPipPipPipPipPip
  • 3,294 posts
  • Gender:Male
  • Location:San Francisco Bay Area

Posted 26 February 2017 - 12:27 PM

This should be fun......

#3 PVD

PVD

    Engineer

  • Members
  • PipPipPipPipPipPip
  • 1,561 posts

Posted 26 February 2017 - 12:55 PM

Yes, there is clear distinction in the rules that airlines are stuck with regarding emotional support animals, and the much more rational rules that are (supposed to be) in effect on Amtrak. It warrants a written complaint, specifying specific train, date and time.



#4 Guest_Guest_*

Guest_Guest_*
  • Guests

Posted 26 February 2017 - 01:23 PM

Thanks, PVD.  Too late for a complaint now.  I'll hope it's better this time.  I will take the rules with me and keep notes en route.  I am far from shy about written, emailed and phone complaints.  Nor about compliments.  Done it all.  A call about how wonderful a particular journey was sends a wave of relief through a CS agent.  

 

And then, BCL, after a superb Philly to Emeryville Amtrak journey, I will enjoy some San Francisco on Memorial Day and the week after.

 

Anyone else experience this dog situation?



#5 Lonestar648

Lonestar648

    Engineer

  • Members
  • PipPipPipPipPipPip
  • 1,247 posts
  • Gender:Male
  • Location:Texas

Posted 26 February 2017 - 01:31 PM

If specific violations are not reported, these instances will increase.  This could be resolved simply by Amtrak educating their staffs on the rules, the proper way to handle each situation without making a scene and also how to handle someone who was previously allowed to violate the rules and now is not.  If the rules are very specific, then it helps the staffs because there is no room for interpretation.  It may be as simple as the staff needs to be educated which also means what Amtrak considers a service animal (size, weight, etc.is a great dane too big).  Also, for those with service animals, there should be rules notifying them ahead of a stop for the animal to relieve themselves, especially on a long trip. 


Trains Traveled On:
Texas Eagle                                      Sunset Limited                            California Zephyr                                Southwest Chief                Empire Builder            Capitol Limited           Lake Shore limited (NYP & BOS)      Crescent
Kentucky Cardinal                             Cardinal                                       Pere Marquette                                  Wolverines                        Lincoln Service            Empire Service          Keystone Service                               Acelas
NE Regionals                                    Pioneer                                        Desert Wind                                       Broadway Limited             Three Rivers                Southwest Chief        Coast Starlight                                    Empire Service
 
Amtrak Miles Logged: over 206,000


#6 anuenue

anuenue

    Service Attendant

  • Members
  • PipPip
  • 83 posts
  • Gender:Female
  • Location:New Jersey

Posted 26 February 2017 - 01:44 PM

I haven't experienced a dog/pet situation on Amtrak, but have in other situations. I'm afraid of dogs, and can tolerate service animals and police dogs only because I keep telling myself they're well trained and won't engage with me.

I'm sympathetic to people who truly need emotional support animals. However, I don't think their rights should trump my right to not be put into what, for me, is an emotionally trying circumstance.

Does Amtrak require any kind of advanced notice when a support animal will be on board? Is there any sort of declaration that said animal IS a support animal? Any penalty for lying?

If you want to find your passion, look where your mind goes when it wanders.


#7 Guest_Gracious Traveler_*

Guest_Gracious Traveler_*
  • Guests

Posted 26 February 2017 - 02:10 PM

Because I started this discussion, and have done my homework; Yes, there are size and many other restrictions.  For "pets"  (e.g. Comfort animals.)

 - 20 lbs or less.

 - Must fit comfortably in the appropriate carrier, and remain in that carrier at all times.

 - A "Service animal" must have been trained in a certified training facility for the disability of its owner, who must show documents if asked, and the animal must be identified as service animal with halter.  And must stay on the floor next to their owner (which they are, of course, trained to do.

 - Pet owners  must notify Amtrak and pay necessary fees before boarding.

 - Thank heaven for this rule:  "Train Personnel have the right to remove animals for any infraction at any time".  Won't they have fun with their Shih-Tsu out there in the desert     with the person who was caught smoking on the train?!

 

N.B.  There are websites out there from whom People can purchase "authentic" looking documents "proving an emotional need of the pet.  Complete with phony seals!  What AmtrakCrew Member has the time to deal with stuff like that.  Phony document or not, it's still a "pet", and not a trained "Service Animal" for a disability.  

 

 

 



#8 FrensicPic

FrensicPic

    Engineer

  • Members
  • PipPipPipPipPipPip
  • 2,018 posts
  • Gender:Male
  • Location:CWT
  • Interests:Trains, photography and radio communications...not necessarily in that order.

Posted 26 February 2017 - 02:19 PM

Coincidentally, on KABC-7 in Los Angeles this morning ...

http://abc7.com/news...ncerns/1773786/


John...

22,913 miles on the Coast Starlight, Sunset Limited, Texas Eagle, Southwest Chief, Empire Builder and Capitol Limited.

More miles on the Pacific Surfliner, Metrolink, White Pass and Yukon Route, Grand Canyon Railway, Napa Valley Wine Train, Fillmore and Western and private railcars with LARail.com

6489 more miles booked

 

Photos: http://www.flickr.co...rensicpic/sets/<p> 


#9 PVD

PVD

    Engineer

  • Members
  • PipPipPipPipPipPip
  • 1,561 posts

Posted 26 February 2017 - 02:30 PM

You don't get advance notice for a support animal, because as a category, it is not recognized by Amtrak. Pets, which have specific rules and reservation requirements for the trains they are allowed on, and service dogs which have their own rules. There are some special provisions for police and rescue animals when appropriate.  The problem of abuse of the support animal category on airlines, and the fake service dog deal has been garnering much attention lately.



#10 Ryan

Ryan

    Engineer

  • Members
  • PipPipPipPipPipPip
  • 15,281 posts
  • Gender:Male
  • Location:OTN
  • Interests:a fact checker combined with a ferret

Posted 26 February 2017 - 02:46 PM

- A "Service animal" must have been trained in a certified training facility for the disability of its owner, who must show documents if asked, and the animal must be identified as service animal with halter.  And must stay on the floor next to their owner (which they are, of course, trained to do.


Untrue. From the Blue Book:
Attached File  Screen Shot 2017-02-26 at 2.40.24 PM.png   249.99KB   29 downloads

The only exception to this is for seizure detection animals that are required to sit next to the passenger (not at their feet as you also mention in your comments). In order to be permitted to occupy a seat, a note from a doctor is required (also mentioned in the screen shot above.

Service Animals are also permitted dining car access:

Attached File  Screen Shot 2017-02-26 at 2.41.32 PM.png   128.75KB   28 downloads
Posted Image

Disclaimer: Any images or links you see in my post may in fact be invasive advertising or even fraudulent phishing attacks silently injected into my post by our spam based hosting service. If anything looks suspicious or inappropriate or you have any doubt whatsoever then do not click any links (particularly those appearing in green and/or with a double underline) or interact with the spam in any way. You may also want to consider using ad-blocking plugins such as Adblock Plus and/or Ghostery)to help reduce the number and severity of advertising scams directed at you.

#11 Guest_Gracious Traveler_*

Guest_Gracious Traveler_*
  • Guests

Posted 26 February 2017 - 03:15 PM

Thanks, FrensicPic!  That clip says it all.  And points up what people are trying to get away with -- both pets and pet owners. The final statement by the anchor says it: "It is against the law ... to try to pass your pet off as a service animal".

 

And of course, dogs who specialize in seizures are specially trained.  Tough to train your duck or your pig or you iguana for that.  Well, pigs, perhaps.

 

When will the Airlines catch up with Amtrak?  There's a good one for us!!

 

Thank you to everyone for this lively conversation.



#12 BCL

BCL

    Engineer

  • Members
  • PipPipPipPipPipPip
  • 3,294 posts
  • Gender:Male
  • Location:San Francisco Bay Area

Posted 26 February 2017 - 03:46 PM

Yes, there is clear distinction in the rules that airlines are stuck with regarding emotional support animals, and the much more rational rules that are (supposed to be) in effect on Amtrak. It warrants a written complaint, specifying specific train, date and time.

 

There's always room for some discretion.  I looked up the service manual, and I couldn't find anything that says they're absolutely not allowed on board - only that they're not required to allow such an animal on board.  The policy about personal alcohol being consumed outside of rooms is often ignored at the discretion of the Amtrak employee.

 

I've Amtrak Police dogs on board before, including entering a cafe car, so either they were violating a rule against pets or they were operating within the rules.

I know of no legal requirement that a service animal must receive some sort of certification.  The DoJ guidance for determining what is or isn't a service animal says that the only thing that can be requested is what job does a particular service animal do.  I've seen plenty of service animals that weren't identified with anything, including a seizure dog I once saw wearing nothing but a normal, unmarked harness.  It's pretty obvious that any animal on a train must be well behaved.

 

https://www.ada.gov/...nimals_2010.htm

 

When it is not obvious what service an animal provides, only limited inquiries are allowed. Staff may ask two questions: (1) is the dog a service animal required because of a disability, and (2) what work or task has the dog been trained to perform. Staff cannot ask about the person’s disability, require medical documentation, require a special identification card or training documentation for the dog, or ask that the dog demonstrate its ability to perform the work or task.


Allergies and fear of dogs are not valid reasons for denying access or refusing service to people using service animals. When a person who is allergic to dog dander and a person who uses a service animal must spend time in the same room or facility, for example, in a school classroom or at a homeless shelter, they both should be accommodated by assigning them, if possible, to different locations within the room or different rooms in the facility.



#13 Ryan

Ryan

    Engineer

  • Members
  • PipPipPipPipPipPip
  • 15,281 posts
  • Gender:Male
  • Location:OTN
  • Interests:a fact checker combined with a ferret

Posted 26 February 2017 - 04:23 PM

There's always room for some discretion.  I looked up the service manual, and I couldn't find anything that says they're absolutely not allowed on board


It's there, in bold and all caps even...

Attached File  Screen Shot 2017-02-26 at 4.22.56 PM.png   78.8KB   26 downloads
Posted Image

Disclaimer: Any images or links you see in my post may in fact be invasive advertising or even fraudulent phishing attacks silently injected into my post by our spam based hosting service. If anything looks suspicious or inappropriate or you have any doubt whatsoever then do not click any links (particularly those appearing in green and/or with a double underline) or interact with the spam in any way. You may also want to consider using ad-blocking plugins such as Adblock Plus and/or Ghostery)to help reduce the number and severity of advertising scams directed at you.

#14 KmH

KmH

    Engineer

  • Members
  • PipPipPipPipPipPip
  • 1,483 posts
  • Gender:Male
  • Location:Is this heaven? No. It's Iowa.
  • Interests:Astronomy, photography

Posted 26 February 2017 - 05:30 PM

Also, and from Service Manual  #8 page 11-26:

 

• Although there may be a few people who try to “beat the system” by bringing pets on-board the train, most passengers with disabilities claiming to have service animals really do have service animals.
• Since access for persons with disabilities traveling with service animals is a civil right covered under the ADA, employees should err on the side of caution by permitting access to passenger areas. If the animal looks like a service animal and the customer says it is a service animal welcome the animal aboard.
d) Not a Service Animal
• If an animal is determined not to be a service animal, the animal can be denied access to Amtrak premises.
11-26 Assisting Passengers with Disabilities
• On the rare occasion that an animal has to be excluded from Amtrak premises, you should handle the situation in a polite and professional manner.
• When an animal is excluded from Amtrak premises while en route, the employee making this decision must complete a “Passenger incident Report” (NRPC 3200) detailing the incident.

Edited by KmH, 26 February 2017 - 05:31 PM.

1963U. S. Congress - underground trolley system • Disneyland train (1968/various other dates) • Old Tucson steam train (1969)

Amtrak: California Zephyr Coast Starlight •  Southwest ChiefSunset LimitedTexas Eagle • Illinois Zephyr

. . . . . . . Amtrak miles - 16,383, so far.

 

 

 

 

 


#15 BCL

BCL

    Engineer

  • Members
  • PipPipPipPipPipPip
  • 3,294 posts
  • Gender:Male
  • Location:San Francisco Bay Area

Posted 26 February 2017 - 05:51 PM

I get all that, although the 2011 version of the manual seems to leave room for leeway. I certainly see that some rules have been relaxed or even ignored by Amtrak staff, including baggage size restrictions, personal alcohol, or consumption of personal food in dining areas.

I really don't see that much of a difference between a by the book service animal and comfort animal in terms of dander.

I also found more detailed information about search and rescue dogs and police dogs, and the restriction is about those from outside agencies, where they're subject to the regular pet policy. The 20 lbs limit would seem to exclude most working dogs. Amtrak Police are specifically exempt. The policy also gives Amtrak Police the discretion to make exceptions (allowing larger dogs and/being allowed outside a carry case) on a case by case basis.

#16 Hal

Hal

    OBS Chief

  • Members
  • PipPipPipPip
  • 433 posts
  • Gender:Male

Posted 26 February 2017 - 07:29 PM

It has become a general problem in the USA. Since there is no certification of service animals required people more and more exploit that loophole. I have seen more and more dogs in supermarkets and restaurants. Everyone is worried about being sued so they are afraid to do anything about the animals. Your Amtrak employee has the rules but are also afraid to enforce them. They are afraid they won't be backed up if they question the function of the animal. Management is also afraid of getting sued so I believe that they would rather the crew look the other way and the crews know that. Unless the animal bites someone, or snarles at someone which has happened, the animal will continue on its way. People in service occupations fear doing anything about fake service animals and I think their fear of doing anything is justified.


Sent from my iPad using Tapatalk

#17 Lonestar648

Lonestar648

    Engineer

  • Members
  • PipPipPipPipPipPip
  • 1,247 posts
  • Gender:Male
  • Location:Texas

Posted 26 February 2017 - 10:48 PM

Something I learned about Service animals is that their owners will tell you not to touch the animal while they are on duty.  A PTSD vet said his dog knew when he could relax looking after him and when he was on duty.  The vet also said that he had to make sure there was off duty time each day.  I have learned that a service animal doesn't bark unless to get the attention of the owner in an emergency. The vet said the only time his fog has barked was to get his attention that he was in real trouble and needed immediate assistance.  A true service animal is very special, because so many don't have what it takes.


Trains Traveled On:
Texas Eagle                                      Sunset Limited                            California Zephyr                                Southwest Chief                Empire Builder            Capitol Limited           Lake Shore limited (NYP & BOS)      Crescent
Kentucky Cardinal                             Cardinal                                       Pere Marquette                                  Wolverines                        Lincoln Service            Empire Service          Keystone Service                               Acelas
NE Regionals                                    Pioneer                                        Desert Wind                                       Broadway Limited             Three Rivers                Southwest Chief        Coast Starlight                                    Empire Service
 
Amtrak Miles Logged: over 206,000


#18 BCL

BCL

    Engineer

  • Members
  • PipPipPipPipPipPip
  • 3,294 posts
  • Gender:Male
  • Location:San Francisco Bay Area

Posted 26 February 2017 - 11:18 PM

Something I learned about Service animals is that their owners will tell you not to touch the animal while they are on duty.  A PTSD vet said his dog knew when he could relax looking after him and when he was on duty.  The vet also said that he had to make sure there was off duty time each day.  I have learned that a service animal doesn't bark unless to get the attention of the owner in an emergency. The vet said the only time his fog has barked was to get his attention that he was in real trouble and needed immediate assistance.  A true service animal is very special, because so many don't have what it takes.

The really tough thing about any working dog is not necessarily that it's working, but it's still a dog. They still appreciate and need affection since they're not robots. I've saw people approach a guide dog while the handler was seated, and the dog accepted the affection. I've played with an off duty police dog.

There's a reason why many service and work dogs now carry warnings to not approach. A lot of people don't understand.

Edited by BCL, 28 February 2017 - 02:45 AM.


#19 tomfuller

tomfuller

    Conductor

  • Members
  • PipPipPipPipPip
  • 750 posts
  • Gender:Male
  • Location:Crescent Oregon (17 miles from Chemult)
  • Interests:Trains, geocaching, travel.

Posted 28 February 2017 - 12:31 AM

On a trip northbound on the CS from CMO to EUG, I was assigned a seat in the rear half of the car. When I got to the top of the stairs, there was a rather large guy sleeping in the first seats. He did have a leash attached to the collar of the dog (over 20 lb). The dog (also sleeping) had no halter and its nose was more than halfway across the aisle. Both I and the Conductor stepped over the dogs head both getting on the train and leaving the train in Eugene. I have no idea where he and the dog got on or how far they went.

I follow the rule: "Let sleeping dogs lie".



#20 Eric S

Eric S

    Engineer

  • Members
  • PipPipPipPipPipPip
  • 2,259 posts
  • Gender:Male
  • Location:Milwaukee

Posted 28 February 2017 - 08:48 AM

I wonder if the phenomenon of people claiming pets as service animals will eventually force a policy change with some sort of visible licensing or documentation for service animals being required. (Not making a prediction, not arguing for or against anything, just thinking out loud, so to speak.)





Reply to this topic



  

0 user(s) are reading this topic

0 members, 0 guests, 0 anonymous users