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Are Pets Allowed on Amtrak?

With over 30 train routes spanning across 46 states and serving 500 destinations, Amtrak rightfully holds the title of being the national railway service of the United States. But how inclusive is its pet policy, and more specifically, can pets go on Amtrak?

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According to the Amtrak website as of May 2023, Amtrak allows you to travel with your pet (only one pet per ride reservation!), for a fee, on many of its routes. However, there are some important policies and guidelines that pet owners need to be aware of before bringing their furry friends onboard. If you’re traveling with a service animal, some of the rules are different, so jump to the end of this post if you already have a PSA-trained service animal.

Amtrak General Pet Policy & Guidelines

First and foremost, it’s important to note that not all pets are allowed on Amtrak. Only small dogs and cats accompanied by adults – not unaccompanied minors – are permitted to travel as pet. There’s some paperwork to be filled out beforehand, and you must use a pet carrier that meets Amtrak’s guidelines, including, but not limited to the following:

  • Carrier must be leak-proof and well-ventilated
  • Maximum weight of the carrier with the pet inside is 20 pounds (so, this is what’s meant by “small dog”), and only one pet is allowed to be in each carrier
  • Carrier must not exceed 19″ long x 14″ wide x 10.5″ high
  • Pet must be able to sit, lie down, and stay completely inside the carrier without touching the sides

The carrier does count as one carry-on bag, so plan accordingly.

 

Pet Carrier for Amtrak

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Cat in Pet Carrier

Additionally, only a certain number of pets are allowed on each train (five, not including service animals), so it’s best to make a reservation in advance. You want to make sure you get a spot for your pet. Limitations have been set on how long a pet can be on the trains (seven hours max currently, including transfer time and multi-segment trips), so be sure your destination is not too far away if you want to get there in one fell swoop.

As for where pets can be on the train, know that pets are not allowed in Acela First Class seating, First Class private rooms, non-Acela Business Class, food service cars, or other accommodations. They are only allowed in Coach Class and Acela Business Class.

While on board the train, your pet should remain entirely inside a closed carrier and with you at all times. On most trains, the pet carrier should be placed under your own seat – not the seat of the person in front of you. A couple of exceptions apply, so refer to the official Amtrak pet policy to learn more.

At stations, your pet must also remain inside their carrier, with you at all times. If the train schedule permits, you can walk your pets at station stops. Just stay close by and listen for the notification that the train is about to depart so you and your pet don’t get left behind. Some routes have very few or no stops at all, so check the train schedule before you book and consider your pet’s bathroom needs.

Amtrak Service Animal Policy & Guidelines

If you have a Psychiatric Service Animal (PSA), Amtrak provides some additional leeway for you and your animal. Amtrak clearly states, “Service animals are not considered pets, and are welcome on all Amtrak services” and has a special page dedicated to service animals. This page includes:

  • The legal definition of a service animal (in other words, what qualifies as a service animal)
  • The types of animals that do not count as service animals
  • Guidelines for maintaining control of your service animal
  • Where service animals must sit while on the train
  • Where and when to walk your service animal
  • And how to make a reservation for your service animal

You should expect Amtrak employees to ask you to share what task(s) your service animal performs. It is unlawful to claim to have a service animal without them having been PSA task-trained.

If you need training for this, I Train Academy will be your best friend. It’s 100% online training at a fraction of the price of most service animal training. It’s a monthly subscription, so you can cancel once you finish the training. What’s great about it, too, is that you receive certificates in Obedience and Service Dog Task Training once you’ve completed all the modules. Get started with I Train today to make the leap from ESA to PSA (assuming you also have your signed doctor’s letter, of course).

Service Animal Harness

It goes without saying that Amtrak employees are not responsible for the care or supervision of either a comfort pet or service animal. So yes, while pets can go on Amtrak, please be a responsible pet owner as you ride.

Do you plan to travel with your ESA or PSA on Amtrak this summer? If so, post a photo of the two of you on your trip and tag us @americanservicepets!

This post is intended to be educational and informative. American Service Pets makes no claims to the accuracy of information, which may have changed from when this post was written. Please refer to Amtrak’s official pet and service animal policies for the most up-to-date requirements regarding traveling on Amtrak with your pet or service animal.

Summer Travel Plans
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ESA or PSA Certification?

The benefits of an Emotional Support Animal certification and a Psychiatric Service Dog certification are drastically different. Fortunately for you, American Service Pets’ network of active board certified doctors can help you find the right path to certification. To find out whether you need an ESA or PSD letter, take our easy, three-step Pet Owner Survey!

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