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Amtrak to allow small pets on trains between Chicago and Quincy

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Amtrak has announced plans to allow pets on their trains. An article appearing in the Chicago Tribune on April 28, 2014, says that, for $25, you can take your cat with you, on Amtrak, between Chicago and Quincy. She won't get her own seat, but you won't have to worry about shipping her, driving there yourself, or trying to fly with her.

This is a pilot program, with Amtrak working in partnership with the Illinois Department of Transportation (IDOT). It's not the first time that Amtrak has allowed pets on their trains. However, the last time they did that, pets were only allowed to travel on the baggage cars, which have no climate control. This can pose the same problems as flying with your pet in a plane's cargo hold.

Flying with your pets can be a nightmare. In 2012, ABC reported that hundreds of pets had died on flights over the years. In 2009 alone, over 200 dogs died, got lost, or were injured on flights. Airlines must self-report problems with carrying pets in the cargo hold, and oftentimes they don't.

The Humane Society of the United States (HSUS) and the ASPCA both recommend that people not fly with their pets unless there is no other option. HSUS says that if you absolutely must fly with your pet, you should bring her into the cabin with you, where she's in your care at all times. They also say that, when pets fly in cargo, the excessive temperatures, along with rough handling, result in many deaths each year.

Amtrak doesn't plan on relegating pets to the baggage cars again. Instead, according to NBC, they're going to designate special cars for pets, so that people who don't want to be around animals don't have to be. However, you will still have to have your cat or dog secured in a carrier for the trip. The program will run from May 5, 2014 to Nov. 2, 2014. If it's successful, they'll roll it out across the country.