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B.C. Ferries pilot project allows pets on outdoor decks

B.C. Ferries is running a three-month pilot project to allow dogs on leashes and cats in travel carriers on the upper outside decks of the Malaspina Sky ferry.
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Dogs and cats are now allowed to ride outdoors on upper decks as part of a three-month pilot project on the B.C. Ferries vessel Malaspina Sky. B.C. FERRIES

There’s nothing like being outdoors while travelling with your best friend.

B.C. Ferries is running a three-month pilot project to allow dogs on leashes and cats in travel carriers on the upper outside decks of the Malaspina Sky, serving Earls Cove on the Sunshine Coast and Saltery Bay at Powell River.

If the initiative is a success, passengers could see this option extended to other ferries depending on “pawsitive” feedback, B.C. Ferries said.

“It will take some time to assess all the vessels and identify appropriate space and prepare the areas to ensure it is safe to allow cats and dogs,” Daniel McIntosh, B.C. Ferries spokesman, said Monday.

So far — the program only started on Sept. 28 — everything has gone smoothly.

Animals are well-behaved, as are the owners, who have been cleaning up after their pets.

B.C. Ferries launched the outdoor pet program at the request of passengers.

The B.C.-built Malaspina Sky has its own pet room on board as well.

To reach the pet area on the ferry, passengers and pets must use a designated stairwell. A restricted-entry elevator is available for passengers with have accessibility issues.

Then follow the paw prints on deck. It will be routinely cleaned, B.C. Ferries said, and waste bags and water bowls are available.

There’s a limit of two dogs per owner. Dogs must be on leashes and cats must be in carriers. No other kinds of pets are permitted.

As dog ownership has grown, B.C. Ferries said the number of passengers travelling with pets increased to 13.7 per cent in 2020 from 5.5 per cent in 2018.

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