Pet owners will soon be able to train their pets in a whole new way. In a significant shift from its "no pets aboard" policy, Amtrak has announced a new six-month pilot program along a rail-line in Chicago that gives people the option to bring their animal friends onto passenger cars with them.
Up until now, only service animals were allowed; all other furry passengers were strictly verboten.
If the results from the animal-friendly program, running from May 5 to November 2, prove successful, the railway company says it will consider allowing pets on trains nationwide.
"We in Illinois welcome this exciting new pilot program, which is something that has been suggested by train passengers," said Illinois Transportation Secretary Ann L. Schneider in a press release. "By listening to and accommodating all passengers, I am hopeful we can create a long-term policy that allows pets on trains and makes traveling on Amtrak even more appealing to a wider audience."
For now, only dogs and cats weighing 20 pounds or less will be permitted, for a $25 fee. But the four legged passengers won't exactly have the run of the train cars; Pet owners will be required to keep their animals inside certain types of carriers, stowed away like most airlines already require.
The consideration of this new policy is a long time coming, particularly as pets have earned their place as bona fide members of the family.