Rep. Michael G. Grimm had one very compelling argument for why his new bill should become law.
“Look at that face!” the congressman gushed, showing off Sebastian, his beloved Yorkie, who was Wednesday’s poster pooch for the Pets on Trains Act of 2013.
Grimm and Sebastian headlined the news conference outside Union Station designed to pressure Amtrak to allow dogs and cats on pet-approved train cars. The event, heavy on canine cuteness and human speeches, featured bill sponsors Grimm, Rep. Jeff Denham (who brought his French bulldog, Lily) and Rep. Steve Cohen. A dozen other small dogs were there to amp up the cuteness factor, including Monkey, a King Charles spaniel, and Winston, a fairly dignified, Union Jack-sweater-wearing English bulldog.
The human celebrity was Hallmark Channel’s Laura Nativo, resident pet-lifestyle expert and “One of the Eight People From the Dog World You Should Know,” according to Dogster magazine. Cradling her pocket Pomeranian, Preston Casanova, Nativo declared it’s unfair that puppies are canina non grata considering Amtrak actually allowed pets until 1976.
“In our modern society, dogs and cats are frequently the subject of laws that remove them from the picture,” she told the crowd. “But is that really in our best interest?”
Well, people are split on that. While some would love to take Spot home with them for Thanksgiving, other passengers might not be so sure.
Not a problem, Grimm argues. “That’s why you have a quiet car.” And the bill has rules: Pets must be crated, and trips with pets can’t be longer than 750 miles. The upside? Increased revenue and better morale for traveling pet parents.
Amtrak put a stop to pets on trains in the ’70s because things got . . . well, a little out of control, Amtrak chief executive Joe Boardman told us. To make this work, the company would have to crunch the numbers, including cleaning costs for the not-quite-train-trained. (Would trains stop for bathroom breaks?) Then there’s the problem of pet owners who might want to bring their snakes and God knows what else on board. (Samuel L. Jackson, white courtesy phone.)
Still, animal lovers Wednesday pulled out the most famous pro-pet argument. “Harry Truman said, ‘If you want a friend in Washington, get a dog,’ ” Cohen said. “But you have to get your dog to Washington. And Amtrak’s the best way to do it.”
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