Friday, 21 November 2008


We've received buckets of mail about our upcoming meeting with a public transport provider. Here is a selection:

I'm in favour of anything that allows us to take our dogs on public transport. Training, registration - whatever it takes really. J.T.

I would love to be able to take my dogs on a train and bus so I would be happy to comply with any form of test/ fee/ regulation. All I want is to be able to catch a train so I can meet friends in the park or on the beach, be able to have a few drinks and then get home safely. S.A.

We should be able to take our dogs onto public transport as long as they are well behaved, and on a short lead. In Europe dogs traveling on trains are so well behaved, there are times you would not notice the dog at all even sitting next to it. I feel we have so many restrictions on where we can take our dogs, in the end it has caused so many problems as they are not socialised enough. D.O.

If someone (pet or people) does not behave well on public transport they should not be allowed to use it. The problem is to define what is bad behaviour. There have to be some guidelines (that are almost the same as for humans).
  • Pets not on seat - no shoes on seats
  • No noise - barking, whining, excessive use of mobiles and loud Ipods
  • No aggression - growling, lunge, elbows, stepping on toes
  • Other traveller should not be soiled - jumping, dribble, sweat and alcohol perspiration
  • No food/feeding.
So basically the same as for humans - which shows that there are no extra rules necessary really; and it shows as well what a highly regulated society we already live in. Definitely all rules should be applied with the same lenience as towards the human travellers. It is up to the conductor/driver to enforce good behaviour in their vehicles; the are the only ones that would need training. A.A.

Barking Mad Comments: Self regulation is another option. I've seen people sharing a train or bus take on people using offensive language and it worked.

I would really appreciate being able to take my dog on public transport and into more public places. I subscribe to the notion that the dog should be well behaved and under the total control of the owner (carer) at any given time. It is time that we the dog lovers/owners voiced our opinions to the many and various councils around this great country. I also think it would help if it was a federal ruling so that the rules would be the same all over the country. L.P.

To facilitate pets to travel on trains and avoid animal haters from complaining I think the dedicated pet-carriage is a good idea. Then people who like animals can choose to travel in that compartment with other people and their pets. Then you won't have the others complaining about noise, smell etc.

Clearly identify that persons and their companion animals can travel in a particular carriage. This will provide persons who do not have private transport the ability to commute without having to pay expensive pet taxis. Additionally, it will also create a community environment, because you know that people who travel in that dedicated area are pet lovers, whether they have one or not.

My dog is the love of my life. He currently travels on my motor scooter with me and is the reason why I got my scooter license. I can't afford a car and wanted to take him everywhere I could with him. Its not particularly good on longer trips and when weather is inclement. Having the option to travel by train to see my parents would be great. Currently I would not attempt the trip on the M5 on my bike...far to dangerous, so my elderly parents have to drive down to my place in Redfern.

I am one of the many pet owners with an unseen disability. For nearly 20 years I have suffered with (edited for privacy). Although I am still on medication and probably will be for the rest of my life, my dog has helped me so much I can't explain. He knows when I'm not well and snuggles with me. He gives me a reason to wake up, get out to the park and feel better. He is priceless and there is nothing I wouldn't do for him. Congratulations on all your hard work and dedication. (private)

Thanks for all your good work. I think some sort of test to gain a 'ticket' for dogs to travel on public transport would be necessary. Maybe this would act as an encouragement for dog owners to train their dogs adequately. No one wants an antisocial dog next to them on public transport - but then a well-behaved one would be a great advertisement! D. B.

Barking Mad Comments on the great advertisement: We know! Pema travels on public transport with her command of 'in your house' that sends her under the seat. However, when people DO notice her, over and over and over, they want to pat her, meet her, have her entertain their child in a pram. She either goes unnoticed, or is the facilitator of a community of joy created on a train or bus giving people 20 minutes of connection, joy and laughter. Today we visited Gosford Hospital (as we have done on Fridays for two years), a mental health clinic and a bank. It took A LONG TIME to get out of the bank as Pema had 5 staff enjoying her company while I dealt with a foreign currency exchange. Joy. Bliss. Community. The bank staff got out their photos - printed or on their phones or computer backgrounds and showed me their dogs. What a cack!!!

I'm a single woman with one small dog and two cats. I don't drive or have access to a car. For me to get my pets to a vet costs me at least $30 each way in a cab, which isn't cheap! Generally the cab drivers are quite rude as they don't want 'hair in their cabs' and so it is difficult to pin one down- not helpful in emergencies.

I think it is vital to have a service for people with pets who don't have cars to be able to transport their pets. Public transport is paid for by tax payers and we have the right to be able to use it for ourselves and our animals. Obviously the animals need to be restrained, confined and should be well behaved. But we really need this. I'd hate to think of animals going untreated due to the difficulties getting them to a vet.

I would also love the opportunity to be able to take my dog to agility classes, dog training etc (as there is none available in my area) on public transport. I lived in London where pets are always allowed on public transport and there is never any problems. Done properly, this is a vital service for communities and individuals.

Not everyone can afford to own a car or even get access to one when it is needed. We need to be able to provide a service for all pet owners. J.L.

Most dog owners that I know have had their dogs do some sort of training. Mine, for example, has a Canine Good Citizen certificate, which means that he is well behaved and can follow commands. I support your efforts and also think that some sort of training/certificate should be sufficient for the powers that be. U.A.

I think it is very important to have some sort of training program in place as a large or even a small poorly controlled dog with aggression issues (either to other dogs or humans) could put the whole cause back in the dark ages. Socialising dogs and teaching them appropriate manners is a lot different from an obedience trained dog. Some sort of temperament testing as well as handler control testing, maybe even requesting that some dogs be required to wear a muzzle on public transport might not be as bad as it sounds to some people. There will be always be people who think their dog is perfect but in fact the opposite is the case. Also there are people who will abuse the system.

I would suggest a list of criteria the dog must be able to pass before it is allowed to travel on public transport. As an example just expecting a dog to have say the Community Companion Dog (CCD -gained through dog obedience trials) certificate would not be enough. I have seen dogs who have this title or higher but can be aggressive towards certain other dog types.

I think allocating carriages for people to travel on is also an excellent idea. It allows people who are not dog friendly (either psychologically or physically) to be sure they will not have to have dogs in their faces.
I would love to be able to get on the ferry at Stockton and cross the harbour across to Newcastle with my 2 dogs. It would mean an easier access to the dog beach at Horseshoe Beach on Newcastle Harbour. Also being able to travel by train & bus from Newcastle to Sydney with my dogs would be great.

Read our letters from the transport and other ministers in support (link in progress, the writer has problems with her scanning technology!)


Mike said...

I think some people assume that if pets are allowed on public transport, that every carriage is going to fill up. It's just not going to happen.

Having probably more experience of travelling with a dog on public transport than _anyone in the world_, I would note that in all the many cities of many countries where pets travel on buses, trains and ferries:
1) you don't see it a lot, but it's a simple fact of public access

2) the reactions are 99.9% positive. In fact out of dozens of countries and hundreds of rides, the only man who complained came from the other end of an otherwise empty carriage to sit next to us and humph about my dog having mud on his paws. I pointed out that the city was yet to be totally cemented over and that we both ahd mud on our shoes. Silly man.

3) on those occasions when I encountered another dog in a carriage, I had enough common sense to at least go to another door/carriage

3) I've never seen/smelled pet urine on public transport; humans .. yes. My dogs don't pee indoors, period.

4) if people don't like the dogs they can move away, just like I do when a human has offensive odour or perfume. Some people just live to complain about their hurt feelings but won't speak up about _genuine_ problems.

5) no city requires any kind of certification or training

As I've done before, just look at the rules of carriage for places like London. Simple and to the point. Not nanny rules like Australia.

I'm a little suspicious of driver-discretion. If a bus-driver doesn't like dogs at all they sometimes won't stop for you (guide dogs included).

Muzzles should simply be for dogs who require muzzles in public anyway. In a couple of places where all dogs were required to wear muzzles, people assume that it's because your dog is dangerous, not because it's mandated.

If our government officials say that its citizens can't be as responsible as those in other countries, what does it say about them?

Eedra at Barking Mad said...

Mike, you've been so helpful to this transport campaign. I guess what I'm dealing with is exactly the point you made:

"If our government officials say that its citizens can't be as responsible as those in other countries, what does it say about them?"

Lobbying for over a year with both past and current governments state and federally, fear, fear of change and fear to make change DOES come to mind. Have we see self-professed dog man now leader of the Federal Opposition throw his weight to our campaigns? Not publically. Have we seen Independent Clover Moore use her role? Absolutely.

How many members are lobbying their own State and Federal members? A letter is worth 100 votes, copied to Barking Mad, that letter can then mean 1000 votes in certain seats. Everone reading this, GO WRITE and cc BArking Mad - please.

The links to find your federal and state representatives is at

(and I'll get it on the web whenever I can get the updates caught up).

jendi said...

I am VERY STRONGLY opposed to any kind of "training certificate" as apparently proposed by Barking Mad. It should be enough that a dog is clean, well behaved and not causing any disturbance.

You are suggesting imposing an additional expense (training costs) onto the very people who probably can afford it least - those without access to private transport.

Please, please give up this idea. In Europe or the USA there is no requirement for "training certification". The suggestion implies that dogs are inherently dangerous if allowed on transport BUT you plan to overcome that inherent problem by mandating a training certificate. Pets are not inherently a problem on public transport if they are clean, well behaved and restrained. We should simply insist on this. It is reasonable and it is simple.

You are complicating and confusing a simple issue of "access". Can you imagine the mountains of paperwork to be generated by the "certification", the checking of the certification, the cross-checking when a dog is sold or dies - and where do these records exist or will they now be a requirement because you can't police the "training certification" without these other records.

Please don't accept the dogs are inherently a problem on public transport - you are playing into the hands of the prejudiced, bureaucratic buffoons.

Eedra at Barking Mad said...

Jendi, I am proposing an option that dog guardians have their dog accessed by a CertIV dog behaviour / trainer to a public access pet standard - voluntarily.

Sort of a 'see, I trained my dog, now back off and get yourself agro about something that matters, not my well-behaved dog.'

This is not the user-pays license previously discussed and it is not regulated. And it comes from 18 months of talking to elected officials.

I propose it is a way of playing into the hands of the baffoons on our terms, and that it could be used effectively for people that have big dogs or dogs they are unable to carry.

It can mitigate a baffoon, just like telling an uninformed bus driver 'my dog is a registered assistance dog and she has $10million liability coverage'. It's all true and it often shuts up the opposition or the 'you're not blind' guys.

It could (and would, by my discussions) be offered by concils as a service payed for from companion animal funds or general funds, not users. It could be offered on a quarterly or monthly basis depending on demand and we could make sure people can use public transport to get to the assessment.

Please have a look at the next post as we can then discuss what people think reasonable public behaviour for a dog/hander is and put some descriptions to our thoughts.

Mike said...

I agree with Jendi. We need to have officials look somewhere besides their own tiny backyards and muddled reasoning.

In recent correspondence with management at the Opera House over their ban on dogs anywhere on Milson's Point, I was told "It is entirely valid to prohibit animals when we have special events and large crowds on the forecourt".

My reply: "I don't agree with your contention that 'It is entirely valid to prohibit animals when we have special events and large crowds on the forecourt'. Large crowds and special events are held all over the city without these sorts of nanny-ish controls. Most public fairs even encourage people to bring their pets along to I think I've attended at least 3 public rallies in the inner city area in recent months, with one or both of my dogs (one is a young pup) - completely without incident, other than the number of police officers who wanted to greet them. If I was attending an actual indoor event (like the Spiegeltent shows I have tickets for) then I wouldn't even think to have the dogs. On the other hand, if I'm out for a pleasant day's walk then I almost always take them along. In my recent times in Europe and North America I've taken my dog along to many extremely busy outdoor events like the Edinburgh Festival's Royal Mile, the courtyard of the Louvre, London's Notting Hill Festival, Pisa's Field of Miracles etc and it doesn't even occur to anyone to police dogs so aggressively."

It's like council officers going after pets sitting at outdoor tables on grounds of proximity to food preparation, when they don't give a damn about proximity to road exhaust, or to animals near outdoor food take-away vendors such as the recent Sydney Food and Wine Fair.

I've written to my state representative several times in recent months. They need to be called out for irrational behaviour at every step.

Eedra at Barking Mad said...

Mike, Have you used public transport in Sydney with your dog/s? If so, can you tell us about it, and if not, why not? Thanks.

Mike said...

I've never attempted it here, although I've had a few email and phone conversations with people at the STA in an attempt to get one of the bus-passes.

A nurse who used to bring her little dog to my park tried to get on a half-empty bus to go to the vet. Her dog was in a hard carry case to go on her lap, and still the driver refused to let her on. The nurse had to walk from Marrickville to Erskineville as a result.