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Friday, October 11, 2013

dog's convenient travel by Mangalore Express; dog's day for passengers

In June 2013, it was reported that Ms.Anita Goyal, wife of Jet Airways chairman Naresh Goyal, was detained at Mumbai airport for carrying her pet dog, a Maltese breed, on a Jet Airwaysflight from London.  It was reported that after the  flight landed, Anita was stopped by customs officials for carrying the dog against rules, which are mentioned on the airline’s website as well. Only after she paid up Rs 36,200, including duty, fine and a penalty, was she allowed to take her pet home. As per the customs rules, a pet cannot be carried or imported into the country in a plane’s cabin unless it is accompanying a disabled passenger or is being flown due to transfer of residence.

Due clearances from the vets and a licence from wildlife, import and trade authorities in India are supposed to be carried before a pet is allowed carriage on an aircraft. Jet Airways also specifies that a pet can be flown only in the cargo hold. Sources said Anita Goyal had a certificate from a vet, but not the other documents. It was unclear as to how Jet authorities in London allowed her to board the aircraft with her dog.

This is no topic for those, who wait hours waiting for the ordinary bus to come ~ it is elite group of people – who have exotic pets and who would not allow their pets to be stressful travelling alone in the hold of a plane.  To them, good train services wherever available, provides a better option of not letting their pets alone.  In Europe it is possible, except – Eurostar which doesn't allow dogs at all, except guide dogs. 

In UK, in a train, passengers may take with them, free of charge and subject to conditions -  dogs, cats and other small animals (maximum two per passenger) provided they do not endanger or inconvenience passengers or staff.    Dogs must be kept on a lead at all times unless contained in a basket. Animals and containers must not occupy seats, otherwise a charge will be made. Blind persons' guide dogs or deaf persons' assistance dogs are allowed on Sleeper services provided the blind or deaf person and dog are booked into single-cabin accommodation.   ScotRail allows dogs to accompany able-bodied passengers in Sleeper services subject to a charge for a heavy duty clean. The booking must be Standard Class with two people travelling together, otherwise a Solo supplement is payable for exclusive use of a twin-berth cabin.

Back home, the rules are different… most times, people find it so difficult to get ticket and there is mad rush in the week ends and on festive occasions…. The booking gets closed within hours of its opening … and people scamper for ‘Tatkal’ tickets which are priced higher than ordinary ………. For  dog owners, travelling with dogs by train is cheaper as compared to air travel, but it is quite complicated at the same time. Railways allows dog in first air conditioned class coaches of the train, otherwise dogs will be put in the brake van of the train along with luggage. However, despite permission to travel with your pet in the first class, if anyone objects to it, the pet will be put in the brake van irrespective of the fact the passenger has paid all the charges. Even if one decides to keep one's pets in the break van of the train, the owner will have to put the pet into a cage, make him wear a collar and a leash. Besides that, it will be the owner's responsibility to feed the dog during traveling. So, during long journey, as it is not possible for the owner to go and keep a tab on the pet, it becomes difficult for both the pet and the owner.

There are few trains which has in-built coop in the guard's coach of the train, where one can put his or her dog during travel. But the only hitch is that only one dog can be transported through this way as there is only one such coop in the train. Two dogs could be allowed, in case they belong to the same owner. Two dogs of two different owners are not allowed in this one coop as there are chances of fighting between them. A passenger who has decided to take the pet dog in break van or the coop is required to reach railway station well before in time and visit the cargo dispatch department, where charges according to weight of dog will be charged and name tag with other dispatch details written on a cardboard is put around dog's neck.

Under section 77-A of the Indian Railway Act, the liability of Railways as carriers of animals is limited as specified below, unless the sender elects to pay the percentage charge on value as shown in the Rule 1301: Per Head Elephants Rs.1500/- Horses Rs.750/- Mules, Camels or Horned Cattle Rs.200/- Donkeys, sheep, goats, dogs and other animals or birds Rs.30/-

The sender or his authorized agent is required to declare the value of each animal on the Forwarding Note when the value of an animal exceeds the amount specified above. The sender or his authorized agent must also record in the Forwarding Note whether he engages to pay the notified percentage charge on value.     The Railway will not be liable for the loss, destruction or damage arising from freight or restiveness of the animal or from overloading of vehicle or wagon by the consigner or his agent or delay not caused by the negligence or misconduct of their servants, irrespective of whether the sender has engaged to pay the percentage charge on value or not.

Dogs when carried in the break-van and/or A.C.C. and first class passenger compartments will be charged for at Scale 'L'.  Though allowed in First class AC coaches, dogs are not allowed to be carried in ACC Sleeper Coaches, Acc chair car coaches sleeper class and second class coaches.         Large dogs which cannot be carried in the dog-box of a brake van will be carried in a special vehicle at the same rates and conditions as for horses.

The tamil daily Dinakaran reported that in the first of week of October, passengers at Chennai Central who travelled by Mangalore Mail were inconvenienced.  On 1st class Coupe E – the lower was to be occupied by a 45 year old male and the upper  by Jimmy 9 years of age.  It was a couple accommodating only 2.  reportedly Jimmy was a local dog and another Doberman also accompanied.  The dogs were travelling to Kozhikode and till the train departred, the dogs were barking at passersby, some of whom were frightened and terrified. 

The report wondered how two dogs could be travelling in a 1st class coupe, when the travel list showed only Jimmy.  Another major violation was that both the dogs were not tied with any chains and were let loose ~ the continuous barks not only irritated the co-passengers but did frighten them also.  The report also stated that men will have to use the same coupe, the next day…. it pointed out that while the floor would be cleaned, the seats are not cleaned on a daily basis and hence there could be major health related hazards.

It was convenience for dog and its owners and dog’s day for other users with the possibility of some disease spreading.   Sad that Railways is not caring to check or allowed carriage of dogs without adherence to its rules.

With regards – S. Sampathkumar
11th Oct 2013.


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