Transit deluged with views on whether to allow dogs on Victoria buses

More than 700 people inundated B.C. Transit with their views of dogs on Greater Victoria buses in the first 24 hours after the company posted a Facebook request for input.

By the 30-hour mark, that number was pushing 1,000. Another 134 of about 550 unionized bus drivers also weighed in.

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Pets including dogs, cats, birds, ferrets and other creatures are already allowed on buses if they are small enough to fit on passengers’ laps in hand-held carriers, but the change under consideration would permit canines of all sizes. Currently, only assistance animals are allowed on buses at all times.

The company will seek opinions until Nov. 9 and study other transit systems’ policies, while considering safety and other relevant factors, said spokeswoman Meribeth Burton. Findings will be reported to the Victoria Regional Transit Commission on Dec. 9.

“We expect strong views on all sides of the debate,” said Burton, noting B.C. Transit will publicly share only those opinions expressed on social media.

Of about 20 public Facebook posts Thursday, none favoured letting dogs aboard, citing lack of space for people, smelly accidents, bites and allergies.

Canine advocates Daphne Taylor and Fran Thoburn of the Raging Grannies presented more than 800 signatures in favour of dogs on buses to the commission on Sept. 16, saying “dog-centric” Victoria lags behind other cities in North America and Europe when it comes to canine access to transit.

There was no mention on Transit’s Facebook page of advocates’ suggestion that dogs be leashed and travel off-peak hours.

Most emphatically against the proposal was BrendaJean Kilgore, who wrote: “There’s NO ROOM for people as it is, dogs are gunna get hurt … plus some people are allergic and or afraid of dogs!!!!!”

“I love dogs, but this is a bad idea!” wrote David Allinson.

“You are just opening up [the risk of] lawsuits, and never mind ‘sick buses’ for inevitable doggie accidents.”

“Space is tight enough with the passengers!” wrote Jösh Hylden. “We don’t need hot, confined spaces mixed with dogs of differing temperaments (and their leavings.)”

Gina Young said the buses “aren’t very clean as it is, so that along with the added smells. No thank you.”

Driver Katie Maragozis wrote that dogs can feel intimidated in large groups, with loud, unfamiliar noises. “It’s not fair to put them or our community at risk for bites and/or allergic reactions.”

Stephen Kelly couldn’t see the need for dogs on board except in an emergency. “What’s next? Pigs ’n chickens?”

kdedyna@timescolonist.com

 

> Comments can be made on Facebook, via e-mail at dogs@bctransit.com or by calling 250-995-5683.

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