Cats and dogs allowed on more upper decks in BC Ferries pet pilot

Cats and dogs allowed on more upper decks in BC Ferries pet pilot
Photo: BC Ferries/Instagram
BC Ferries has added more pet areas to upper desks on vessels.

Four-legged friends can now enjoy scenic views and sunshine as BC Ferries expands its pet deck pilot project to more routes in time for summer.

Cats and dogs travelling with their owners on the Horseshoe Bay-Departure Bay, Comox-Powell River, and Earls Cove-Saltery Bay routes are now allowed on the upper outside desks on select vessels, BC Ferries says.

The vessels equipped with outer pet decks include the Queen of Oak Bay, the Queen of Cowichan, the Salish Orca and the Malaspina Sky.

Last fall, the company piloted an outdoor pet area on the Malaspina Sky, which sails between Earls Cove and Saltery Bay, and it says passenger feedback was “pawsitive” and prompted the initiative to “roll over” to other routes.

“During this time, approximately 1,000 pets travelled on the ship, and 90 per cent of respondents to a survey were in favour of expanding the pet areas to the outer decks of other ferries,” BC Ferries said in a release.

The expanded pilot, announced Monday, means pet owners must keep their dogs on a one-metre leash and all times, and cats must be in a travel carrier while on the outer decks. There’s also a limit of two dogs per owner.

BC Ferries took to Instagram to announce the expansion and was met with positive reactions, including from one commenter who said: “This is great! Sometimes the vehicle decks are too hot for our little fur friends…”

The pilot comes as the company sees an increase in the number of passengers travelling with pets in recent years — from 5.5 per cent in 2018 to 13.7 per cent in 2020, according to the release.

“Access to the area will be via a designated stairwell, with restricted elevator entry for those with accessibility needs. Paw prints on the deck mark access points,” BC Ferries said, noting that four-legged friends must stay in designated pet areas, and waste bags and water bowls will be provided.

Drivers onboard vessels are also reminded to turn off their car alarms while parked on vessel decks, as motion can set them off, and the noise is “very alarming to pets,” added BC Ferries.

The company has more travelling with pets tips on its website.


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Ethan MorneauEthan Morneau

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