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Wild push to overturn dog ban on trains

Written by on May 16, 2024

Pet owners accompanied by their dogs and one shy cat in a carrier bag flooded NSW parliament, calling for NSW to allow pets on trains, metro services and domestic flights.

Advocates say it would bring NSW’s laws in line with Victoria, where small animals can travel on all forms of transport if suitably caged. Dogs are also allowed on trains, trams and buses as long as they’re on a lead and wearing a muzzle.

Organised with pet suppliers Pet Circle, about 50 protesters and 20 dogs filled Macquarie St outside NSW parliament on Thursday morning,

Lending their support was Greens MP Amanda Cohn, Ryde Liberal MP Jordan Lane and Animal Justice MP Emma Hurst, who spoke at the event.

Ms Hurst said it wasn’t fair for the government to expect every household with a pet had a car, especially in a cost-of-living crisis.

“We want to make sure out city is companion animal friendly, because if you can’t get your animals to events, if you can’t get them to specialist appointments, you can’t get them to the dog park by walking, then you need some kind of access system,” she said.

She said the government could consider “pet carriages,” which would function like quiet carriages. Similar on domestic flights, areas could be separated to accommodate people with allergies or phobias.

“It’s something the community is calling for,” she said.

“There’s always going to have to be restrictions or rules around how this happens but the fact that it’s already happening in other places around the world (including Victoria) proves that it can work.”

NSW Transport Minister Jo Haylen is currently considering a petition launched by independent MP Alex Greenwich, which garnered 10,515 signatories.

Mr Greenwich said he hoped “common sense (would) prevail,” and bring Sydney up to date with other global cities.

“More and more workplaces are becoming companion animal friendly. Obviously a lot of people got companion animals during Covid, so we understand there’s an increase in people with companion animals, and we want to encourage people to take public transport rather than driving and adding to congestion,” he said.

“People should be able to take their fur babies on trains to go to vet visits, doctors appointments, to work and to go see friends.”

Attending the event, Kirrawee resident Jenny Gormley, 70, and her cavoodle Dolly, was forced to travel about two-and-a-half hours on five buses, instead of a 40 minute train trip in order to attend the protest.

She said she would be happy to put Dolly in a basket, and said current rules could be amended to allow pets to only travel on trains during off-peak periods.

“I just think it should be fairer. I’m happy to put my dog in a container, bag or basket, and she’s really good like that,” she said.

Ms Haylen confirmed Transport for NSW was looking at its policies around pet travel, and acknowleded the “deep bond between pet owners and their companions”.

“While we recognise the benefits of allowing pets on public transport, we must also consider the needs of other passengers, including individuals with disabilities and transport workers,” she said.