BC Ferries expands pet pilot program to Swartz Bay route

CHEK

Two vessels that travel along the Tsawwassen-Swartz Bay route have been added to BC Ferries’ pet pilot program, allowing owners to bring their furry friends on the upper decks.

The Spirit of British Columbia and the Spirit of Vancouver Island have now been added to the corporation’s list of vessels that are part of their pet pilot program — which expands the current pet area to the upper area of the passenger deck.

“It’s no secret that people want their dogs and cats to be comfortable as they are when they’re travelling,” said Colin Zak, BC Ferries spokesperson.

The ferries primarily travel on the busiest route between Vancouver Island and the Lower Mainland and now join the several vessels already in the program.

“That’s amazing,” said Kevin O’Riordan.

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O’Riordan was travelling to Tsawwassen when he first learned of the pet pilot program. He tells CHEK News he would exclusively travel using a vehicle to ensure his dog, Sofie, would have a comfortable experience.

“I would have to go into that small area down in [the car deck], and it was cold, it was rainy, and I basically said, ‘I can’t do this anymore,'” said O’Riordan.

Pet owners will still have to abide by some rules, including leashing their pets at all times, making sure they’re well-behaved, and making sure that pets do not enter lounges or passenger walkways.

Passengers are also restricted to only having two pets per handler.

“Everybody likes to get some fresh air during their voyage. These expanded pet areas were definitely in response to feedback from customers,” said Zak.

Although Brianna Degriolamo and her service dog, Andy, were able to enjoy the upper deck areas already, they are welcoming the change for other dog owners.

“Just looking at a dog in a joyful moment brings a lot of joy to people,” said Degriolamo.

The designated pet areas on the vessels will be marked with paw prints on stairwells, which will lead owners and their furry friends to more areas on the upper deck.

The corporation says it’s planning to add two more vessels that travel on the same route to its pet pilot program by the end of the month.

Oli Herrera

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