Tell us if you have the best dog in Australia. Picture: iStock
Tell us if you have the best dog in Australia. Picture: iStock

Frustration as commuters travelling with dogs left stranded

Australians love their dogs so much we want to travel with them on trains, trams and buses.

Dogs are such a big part of our daily lives, there's a renewed push for them to travel with us, bringing Australia and its companion animals in line with other global cities.

European and US cities have welcomed pets on public transport for years, but in Australia, rules vary widely on doggie commutes.

A YouGov Galaxy poll commissioned by Dogs Of Oz found more than 55 per cent of Australians supported dogs on public transport, with almost two in three people in Victorians supporting the idea.

DO YOU HAVE AUSTRALIA'S BEST DOG? ENTER NOW

In Victoria dogs can travel on public transport as long as small dogs are held in a suitable container. Bigger dogs can also ride along as long as they're on a lead and wearing a muzzle.

However dog owners flouting the rules around transporting animals risk fines of up to $248.

Department of Transport figures show that despite low rates of compliance with the rules, they are rarely enforced through penalties.

Only five infringements were issued for animal related offences in the 2018/19 financial year.

Jonti Ridley and her two-year-old dog Elton have been kicked off public transport many times. Picture Jay Town
Jonti Ridley and her two-year-old dog Elton have been kicked off public transport many times. Picture Jay Town

Dog owner Jonti Ridley has criticised the rules for making it difficult for people who don't own cars to transport and take care of their pets.

Ms Ridley said with the high rate of train disruptions because of public works, lines changing to replacement buses has in the past derailed her travel plans.

Late last year Ms Ridley was taking her Maltese cross Elton to the vet when an unexpected train cancellation left her stranded.

"The replacement buses were already absolutely heaving, and I wasn't allowed to get on with Elton," she said.

The Yarraville resident said she would transport Elton in a dog crate but found lugging around more than 10kg worth of dog exhausting.

"The things about these rules is they're written by people who don't get public transport," she said.

Ms Ridley is also one of many transport users noting a lack of consistency.

"I've encountered bus and trams where drivers will refuse you and just say 'nup'. But I've literally seen people who work for metro give the dog a scratch on the head," she said.

One public transport user said she has been told over the intercom to get off a tram when she got on with her dog.

Many commuters interpret "suitable container" in their own terms, fashioning large bags, or even souping-up prams and baby carriers.

One such dog owner Karen Hitchen, who has bought her dog Banjo a special carrier, said she had often seen staffers "turn a blind eye".

"I think it's the way it's going to go. Having dogs and pets will become more acceptable in lots of public places," she said.

Despite criticism from some pet owners Victoria's laws are relaxed compared to other states.

"We know Victorians love to travel with their pets, which is why we allow animals on public transport in some circumstances," a Department of Transport spokesman said.

 


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