Dogs on Greater Victoria buses open for input

BC Transit survey open until Nov. 9 for input on dogs on buses

BC Transit is asking for input in response to a call for relaxed dog ridership rules, launched by a Saanich resident in September.

Daphne Taylor and her Raging Grannies colleague Fran Thoburn collected hundreds of petition signatures this year to relax dog ridership rules on public transit.

Until Nov. 9, users can weigh in on multiple options such as whether dog owners should be charged an extra fare, restricted ridership times and how often users would bring their dogs on the bus. According to its website, BC Transit staff is reviewing a request to expand the current policy to allow all dogs on Capital Region buses, at the request of the Victoria Regional Transit Commission.

Taylor is worried there’s been too great of a negative response, and feels those speaking out against the potential allowance of dogs on buses aren’t aware of the full extent of her own proposal nor that of BC Transit’s survey.

“The things I’ve read so far have been negative,” Taylor said.

“What I want to say to people who’re signing (our) petition, they should tell BC Transit why it’s a good idea, instead of just hearing the negative (through the survey).”

BC Transit’s current dog policy requires dogs to be kept in hand-held cages small enough to fit on an owner’s lap, which Thoburn said is too restrictive for many seniors and for owners of large dogs (certified assistance animals are allowed on BC Transit buses at all times).

The duo researched and discovered several cities that allow dogs on buses including Calgary, Toronto, Seattle and San Francisco, as well as countries in Europe such as England, Germany, France and Italy, Taylor said.

“I don’t think people realize when we submitted the petition, we also submitted a list of options to look at. Should dogs be on a short leash and muzzled? Should they be restricted to off-peak hours so we’re not looking at crowded buses? And should drivers have the right to refuse dogs, maybe if they’re allergic (or it is misbehaving)?”

Most of all, Taylor feels people are missing the bigger picture of climate change and it’s got her a little bit hot under the collar, she added.

“I hope this isn’t some people niggling over some dog hair on their coat. I see buses as a public service and we have to do something about climate change,” Taylor said. “The United Nations (climate change report) release this week is another reminder. Those of us who are concerned about it want to leave our cars at home.”

The survey and subsequent review only applies to dogs at this time.

Visit the BC Transit survey here. The public can also comment by email at dogs@bctransit.com or by phone at 250-995-5683 until Nov. 9.

reporter@saanichnews.com