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Pets on Trains bill gains support

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Advocates of a bill to allow pets on Amtrak passenger trains say they are making progress in advancing the measure.

Introduced in the House last May by Reps. Jeff Denham (R-Calif.) and Steve Cohen (D-Tenn.), the proposed Pets on Trains Act has amassed more than 30 co-sponsors and the backing of the Humane Society of the United States. In November, Sen. Sheldon Whitehouse (D-R.I.) introduced the bill in the Senate.

“I am gathering co-sponsors for Pets on Trains and working with the Humane Society and other advocacy groups to build support for the bill,” said Denham, who chairs a House subcommittee that oversees railroads.

If enacted into law, the legislation would require Amtrak to develop a policy for people to travel with their pets. Where feasible, at least one car on each train would be designated for passengers to transport cats and dogs. The pets would have to be kept in carriers or kennels, and they would be limited to trips under 750 miles. Pet owners would be charged a fee to cover the cost of administering the new policy.

Bill supporters say that since companion animals are allowed on airplanes, they should be permitted on passenger trains, too. Currently, the only animals allowed on Amtrak trains are “service animals” who aid people with disabilities.

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