I've read with interest and not a little horror about Amtrak possibly allowing passengers to travel with their pets. Congress would have to authorize this, and there is apparently a move afoot for Amtrak to designate at least one car in each train where passengers could travel with their pets.
First, let me note that I am extremely allergic to cats and some dogs. I mean life and death allergic. I have never been around other mammalia that much that I have learned of, or developed an allergy to, any others. So perhaps I would also be allergic to hamsters. So you know that I am coming from the position of having a deep love for passenger rail travel on the one hand and an urgent need not to be embalmed on the other.
I find so many societal things wrong with pets in certain places, including supermarkets, restaurants and, yes, public transportation, that I will not list them all. Just let me say that, from a societal standpoint, I believe that the need to take pets everywhere evidences a narcissism that borders on neurosis and a degradation, if not a total rift, in the social fabric. (I exclude from this criticism all people who need service animals, though even that definition suffers from the pressures of a liberal interpretation for almost everything. Service chicken? Come on!)
But the biggest thing wrong with pets on Amtrak is cost to the American taxpayer. Knowing railroad operations as I do, I guarantee increased costs to Amtrak (which is cost to us) as; (a) maintaining a pool of designated pet cars in the proper place, time and order, (b) cleaning and deodorizing cars, (c) policing the situation such that riders obey the "pet rules," and (d) paying for alternate transportation in case of breakdown and emergency for passengers, like me, who absolutely cannot ride in the same air supply as dog or cat dander.
As far as the cars are concerned - and I've seen this in hotels - they won't ever be exclusively used for no-dogs-allowed. In a pinch, a car used yesterday for pet friendly service will be shunted onto a train that needs a car for just regular non-pet passengers. Once a pet has slept on a bed, I guarantee you that it's dander will remain in the bedding until the bedding is sterilized or burned!
And given the sorry state of society today, are you going to arm conductors to enforce a pet moving from car to car or settling down in the galley waiting for food scraps? You may have to!
Until or unless Amtrak has such a large pool of cars that it can afford to pick another "clean of pets" car from the unused stock of cars to account for emergencies or just increased ridership, this whole pets on Amtrak thing is a bad, bad, BAD, idea! (ALLERGISTS PLEASE COMMENT!)
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