Pet Policy Ignored on Coast Starlight Today #11

Discussion in 'Travelogues / Trip Reports' started by pdxjim, Feb 11, 2012.

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  1. Feb 11, 2012 #1

    pdxjim

    pdxjim

    pdxjim

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    Pug running loose this morning in King Street Station. Owner could not even control the dog with voice commands and no attempt to leash it up. This occurred near the sleeper check in area, so the conductor had to have seen the commotion.

    The owners boarded sleeper 1131 for a bedroom to LAX, and unfortunately I had a roomette in the same car.

    I had an allergic reaction to the critter, itchy eyes, nasal/sinus congestion and plenty of sneezing.

    As soon as reservations for lunch were completed, my friend and I headed for the Parlour Car to watch Puget Sound etc. from the swivel chairs.

    Oh surprise, the couple with the pooch came into the PPC and the dog sits on her lap and is adjacent to me.

    I calmly asked the lady if her dog was a service dog, to which she said yes. No obvious disability observed and she had already had three drinks including the welcome mimosa in the sleeper. I let her know the dog was causing an allergic reaction and she essentially closed down and ignored me.

    Other passengers had already complained to the crew and when I chatted with the PPC employees, they were hastily looking up the rules for pets onboard.

    I was told later that the conductor checked with his manager in Portland and he was told, "hands off, we don't want problems with ADA or a lawsuit". The OBS staff was told they could not ask anything about why the dog was required because of potential legal issues.

    PPC staff said they even would have to let the dog sit on the seat with the couple in the diner.

    I called Customer Relations when I got home to PDX and their response was "we'll let management know of your concerns".

    I at least had an excellent SCA in Steve Delgado and great service from Shirley in the diner and Nanette in the PPC.

    Jim in PDX
     
  2. Feb 11, 2012 #2

    Guest

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    Guest

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    Sounds like you had a ruff go on the C S
     
  3. Feb 11, 2012 #3

    Blackwolf

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    The Service Animal moniker is getting beyond absurd. It is one thing to have a Guide Dog because you have a serious condition, such as blindness, to be able to get around. But it is not acceptable to have little Floofy along just because a person insists that their presence happens to make them happier.

    I recall the rules being straight forward: No Pets Allowed. Period! In terms of animals, there is no difference between a train and a jet liner. I highly doubt the pooch would be allowed to sit in her lap while flying from Seattle to Los Angeles. Even in the case of a seeing eye dog, the dog would go into a crate and the passenger given assistance aboard the aircraft. If there is no will to stop a miss-mannered pug from being allowed on board, then what any other animal being arbitrarily titled 'Service Animal' and muscled aboard a train near you? The sad part is you can get just about any PhD. to sign a letter saying Fluffy or Fuzzball is a 'Service Animal' these days. So the doctor's note proof is pretty weightless any longer.

    As a passenger, I'd make their travel experience as hellish as possible. Until given the 'warning' by the conductor, it's fair game in my book. But that's just my take to a poorly played situation, and a gross overstep on the part of the people owning that dog. :cool:
     
  4. Feb 11, 2012 #4

    Shortline

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    Service animals don't have to be Kenneled on planes....I just had a trip last month seated across the aisle from a beautiful German Sheppard on a Delta fligh where the dog walked roght on board down the aisle, sat /lay on the floor next to the owner, and walked right back up the jetway in Atlanta. I do agree though the definition of service animal is getting vague, such as for "calming" dogs, etc. a few months ago T the Holiday Inn Marina in San Diego I had dinner at the bar, next to a guy who lived on a sailboat. His "service dog" was a scruffy looking collie of some kind, who's job it was to warn him of dangerous weather and nearby ships when sailing alone. Apparently the dog was paid in nachos and small cups of beer, which he seemed to like. Can't blame him, I like sailing, nachos and beer too!
     
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  5. Feb 13, 2012 #5

    amamba

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    While I am apt to agree that this pug in question was most likely not a service dog, there are plenty of people that do have legitimate service animals that do not have an obvious disability. For example there are seizure dogs that can help to alert if their owner is about to have a seizure, and there is no way that you would be able to observe that just by looking at someone. There are also people that have severe food allergies that can be deadly if they encounter an ingredient, and I have heard of folks getting service dogs that can smell the aforementioned allergen and help protect their owner from it.

    If the dog was a legitimate service animal, then your allergies still would have been affected. I would recommend that if your allergies are that bad that you consider packing allergy meds in your train kit. I have been on acela twice now with a seeing eye dog (obviously a blind pax) and there was also a seeing eye dog with a blind passenger in the PPC when I was on the CS last year.

    Back to the pug in the op, I can't imagine any pug being a service animal. Pugs are not really known for their smarts or ability to follow commands. It took me a year to train my pug to lay down on command! He is willfull and stubborn. I am involved in local pug rescue so I have been exposed to lots of pugs, and really, I can't think of any of them being a service animal.
     
  6. Feb 13, 2012 #6

    rrdude

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    Still, someone who has a valid service animal, I would think, would be overly conscious to someone who may have an allergy to the animal.

    NO DOUBT that the loophole is getting abused. I wonder what the requirements are on showing "proof" that the animal is a service animal? Wonder if these "rules" are ever enforced, or word is out that "all you have to do is claim your pet is a service pet" and you are golden.

    Personally, it it were me, and this B#$^% wouldn't take her "service animal" back to her sleeper,.....well, let's just say the situation would have escalated. (I think a Pug would fit out of the window of a Superliner door, don't you?)

    Kidding, kidding, kidding...........
     
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  7. Feb 13, 2012 #7

    Railroad Bill

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    Actually as an animal lover, I would put the owner out the Superliner door and then drop the pug off at the next station with animal welfare :giggle: :lol: Also, just kidding :rolleyes:
     
  8. Feb 13, 2012 #8

    Devil's Advocate

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    I'm not against actual service animals in the slightest, and in fact those are only encountered in rare instances anyway, but I have no compassion for people who try to abuse our laws and our justice system in order to bring non-service animals where they don't belong. Amtrak apparently has their hands tied on this issue due to sloppy legislation and overbearing court decisions. However, there is NOTHING stopping you and any other PASSENGER from asking as many questions as you want. If it doesn't make sense to you feel free to ask what EXACTLY their "service" animal is trained to do. If it's an obvious ruse then make it clear you're not fooled by their charade and that they're not welcome to come in close proximity to you thanks to their abuse of the system. If this is important to you then be sure to follow-up with Amtrak HQ and with your senator and representatives.
     
  9. Feb 13, 2012 #9

    gswager

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    I've heard that it is loosely enforced because there is no proof that there is a certified service dog. It would be a nice to include a letter from doctor or animal training agency stating that it is a service dog.
     
  10. Feb 13, 2012 #10

    rrdude

    rrdude

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    And therein lies the problem, to my limited knowledge, there is no "registry" for service dogs, to be issued a license or ID, to "prove" to whatever governing body, or restaurant, or retail store, hotel, etc., etc., that the animal is "real".
     
  11. Feb 13, 2012 #11

    DD

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    I am the other aforementioned guest in Jim's original post. Not only was Miss Pug running loose in Seattle, she did NOT respond to any commands of "come here", "stop" or "sit". I have been around many other service animals and they MIND those commands. Puppy was also not on a leash at any time and was free to run and roam. She actually came INTO our sleeper when they first boarded. Made me sneeze.

    Doggie was obviously NOT there to detect any food issues as was not present in the diner (thank goodness). Someone prone to seizures or diabetes blackouts should NOT have been consuming the amount of alcohol both owners were injesting!

    There was obviously no physical impairment. Mental perhaps??

    I have purebred cats. Maybe I need a service kitty?
     
  12. Feb 14, 2012 #12

    amamba

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    Yes, you should ask what the animal is trained to do, but as I mentioned originally don't forget that many people have legitimate service animals and do not have a visible disability. I agree that pets - under current amtrak policy - have no place on the train. But please don't be rude or offensive to people that are actually traveling with service animals. And don't take it out on the animal - its not their fault that their own is an entitled person who thinks that the rules don't apply to them.
     
  13. Feb 15, 2012 #13

    Steve4031

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    Admittedly, this sounds like a very annoying situation. However if you get into an altercation with another passenger over any situation, you run the risk of being put off the train with the other person who was actually in the wrong.

    IMHO, the train crew mishandled this. I think a person who did this on a plane would either be denied boarding, or removed from the plane. Service animal or not, the other passengers safety should not be at risk. A properly trained service animal would remain near its owner, and follow directions. It probably would never be close enough to other passengers to trigger allergies.

    Additionally, letting a dog run free on a moving train is dangerous to the dog. What if it decided to run between the cars . . . At the wrong time this could be very dangerous. The crew needs to be aware of this too. If the dog had been injured this would have delayed the train and inconvenienced everybody.
     
  14. Feb 19, 2012 #14

    dlagrua

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    A couple of years back on the Autotrain there was a young girl and her mom traveling together and the girl had a cat in her lap in the station. I asked them did they get permission to take the cat onboard and they said yes claiming that the cat was a "service animal". I wondered how this could be but her mom told me that her daughter had an emotional disturbance that was calmed by her cat. That night they set up in a bedroom put out a throw-a-way litter box, a bowl of food, water and everything went without incident. The cat made no noise and created no disturbance for anyone.
     
  15. Feb 20, 2012 #15

    Anderson

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    I think that a polite inquiry as to what an unexpected/odd service animal is "servicing" isn't untoward...and I know about there being odd uses aside from guide dogs.

    However, a serious question does come up: I'm rather (no pun intended) catastrophically allergic to cats (as in, medication barely helps). I despise the ADA greatly and I actually like cats, but if the other person's "assistance cat" gives me a sufficient fit, is there some way that I could make an ADA claim to at least get some space between me and the offending feline? I ask because...well, let me put it this way: If a cat rubs up against me, the clothes that I'm wearing at the time have to get thrown in the wash before I can (happily) wear them again.
     
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  16. Feb 20, 2012 #16

    Alice

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    The ADA section on service animals has been revised. Effective March 15, 2011, service animals must be dogs, or in some situations, miniature horses. Also, the new section clarifies differences between service animals and other animals (such as comfort animals) that people use for various things. Service animals are required to be allowed in public places, same as other assistance devices such as wheelchairs. The others are not, but are required to be allowed in rental property in many cases.

    Here is a summary sheet.
     
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  17. Feb 20, 2012 #17

    Railroad Bill

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    Thanks Alice for this informative legal view of the service animal rules.

    This should address many of the points related in this thread. Perhaps Amtrak should post a copy of this document to assist personnel and the public to understand what the ADA policies actually are :unsure:

    I guess my kitty is going to have to stay home :giggle:
     
  18. Feb 20, 2012 #18

    Devil's Advocate

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    Unfortunately this revision still doesn't seem to do much to address intentional abuse by dog owners. The only situations addressed by this revision are those where the owner is bringing something other than a dog or horse, or is honest enough (or stupid enough) to admit they're intentionally trying to game the system to on-duty staff. So long as they're willing to lie they're free to bring their dog with them wherever they go.

     
  19. Feb 20, 2012 #19

    SarahZ

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    Could this be alleviated (not just on trains) if the states required a tag similar to the usual dog registration tag that says, "Service Animal"? It wouldn't have to list a medical condition if privacy is an issue; it could simply be a little yellow or red square or circle that is stamped, "Service Animal" and then some kind of registration number (like the regular dog registration).

    It would be easy to spot if the dog isn't already wearing one of those "Service Animal" vests, and it wouldn't reveal a medical condition. It would simply be an easy way to avoid questions.
     
  20. Feb 20, 2012 #20

    Devil's Advocate

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    If every state had their own tags and their own rules then it would be pretty easy to find the state with the weakest system and abuse the hell out of it. Just like with so many other state-by-state regulations. The best solution I can think of is a national tag system that is only given to recipients of professionally trained service animals and is hard to duplicate but easy to authenticate.
     
  21. Feb 22, 2012 #21

    benjibear

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    Yeah Maine will probably start selling them to supplement their trailer license plate industry. It still something that should be looked at. It is not just for this reason but also so people know not to go up and just start petting the dog. The dog is working and relally shouldn't be disturbed.

    At a minimum Amtrak (or any place that doesn't allow animals but are required to allow service animals) should be allowed to ask the person for proof that the animal is a service animal. This may be a letter (maybe notorized) by a physician and another document showing the animal is a trained service animal should suffice. While I am sure anyone could reporduce documents in today's world, at least it would keep the semi-honest or lazy on track.
     
  22. Feb 27, 2012 #22

    Michigan Mom

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    You can't fault the employees; Amtrak, like the airlines, has much to worry about due to abuses of the ADA that some folks have exploited. These abuses are too numerous to enumerate here, but no manager is going to take a risk that would leave their employer vulnerable to a lawsuit.

    In the case of these "emotional support animals" they do require a letter, on letterhead from treating professional but let's face it, how hard would that be to obtain. Airline passengers do this to avoid paying the cabin pet charges. At one airport I saw an emotional support horse, btw, complete with poop bag. I felt sorry for the people who would be seated near that odor.

    I'm glad they at least clarified the regs a little, as it will cut down on the variety of so called service animals. Note that now, as before, the animal must be controlled. The pug that was running wild could probably have been legally denied but even an experinced manager probably would not want to take on the battle.
     
  23. Feb 27, 2012 #23

    Devil's Advocate

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    In other circumstances I might suggest that the protected group should be the most vocal about exposing abusers in order to prevent the potential loss of their own rights due to the possibility of guilt by association. However, in this case I think it's on all of us to help curb this sort of abuse by making our feelings known to those who appear to be intentionally circumventing the spirit of the law if not the letter. There is nothing I'm aware of that prevents a fellow passenger suffering from pet allergies from pointing out that that a toy-sized dog running about isn't going to be providing any life-or-death services.
     
    Last edited by a moderator: Feb 27, 2012
  24. Feb 27, 2012 #24

    SarahZ

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    Some of the service animals I've seen have their little neon jacket with "Service Animal" stitched onto it, but others have taken it even further and put something like, "I know I'm cute, but please don't pet me. I'm working!" on the jacket.

    Those signs are mostly for people like me. ;) It's hard for me to sit near a dog and NOT want to pet it, but I do restrain myself if it's a service animal. The only thing keeping me from petting the K9 units at CUS is the knowledge that a German Shepherd could do a lot of damage to my hand. :(
     
  25. Feb 27, 2012 #25

    Devil's Advocate

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    Yeah, you probably do not want to mess with a K9 unit from a security detail. They can supposedly cause serious harm if they think you're a threat or if they think you're getting too close to their handler.
     

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