Doggie discrimination? New LTC pet policy leaves the big dogs at the curb
There is praise and criticism for the London Transit Commission (LTC) following its decision to allow some pets onto city buses.
At a meeting Tuesday, the commission recommended allowing small pets, including dogs and cats, on city buses starting March 1.
“I think it’s a good step in the right direction for sure,” stated Mark Thomson as he left a London dog park with his French bulldog, Leo.
The downtown resident owns a car but often opts for public transit. He told CTV News he is thrilled to know he can soon bring Leo on the bus as long as he follows LTC requirements.
The new policy calls for small domestic animals (exotic animals remain banned) to be in crates, which must be either carried on a rider's lap or be small enough to fit under a bus seat.
The LTC is late among Ontario transit authorities to permit pets. Ottawa’s policy is nearly exact and has been in effect for four years.
Outside of Ontario, Montreal is perhaps the most lenient. The city allows all dogs on a leash on metro trains, but only during certain hours.
Mark Thomson and his dog Leo on Jan. 26, 2023. (Sean Irvine/CTV News London)Back at the London dog park, daily bus rider Barbara Walker was initially excited about the policy.
She hoped it meant she could bring her dog Molly on the bus.
“I think that would be great. To take her to the vet is very inconvenient. I have to borrow my mom’s car or we just don’t go,” she said.
But unfortunately, Molly will be too large to ride London’s buses.
“She wouldn’t follow those guidelines. I don’t think that’s fair,” sighed Walker.
It turns out the separation between the big dogs and the little dogs is not sitting well with dog owners of all sizes.
“It kind of doesn’t make sense. I guess either allow it or not because there are both ends of the coin,” said Pamela, the owner of a small dog.
But at a bus stop, riders said there is merit in the new LTC pet policy.
Barbara Walker, a daily bus rider, and her dog Molly on Jan. 26, 2023. (Sean Irvine/CTV News London)One woman told us she will welcome pets onboard, but not with a free rein.
“As long as they’re in a carrier, restrained. As long as nobody takes advantage of the situation, I think that’s ok.”
Meanwhile, Walker hopes someday the policy will be broadened to allow Molly to ride.
“It is a start and maybe over time if it works out, they can extend to allow the bigger dogs.”
Meanwhile, the LTC and other transit authorities have had to consider the impact of the pet policies on those with service animals.
Some, including the Accessible Public Transit Service Advisory Committee, have expressed worry service animals could be attacked or disrupted.
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