Doggone it: Frequent traveller fed up with BC Ferries’ ‘unsavoury’ pet areas

Photo credit: Nicholas Pescod
File photo.

A frequent BC Ferries commuter who brings his dog with him says he’s fed up with the ships’ pet-friendly areas, and he hopes the company will upgrade the facilities.

Cole Landry lives in Nanoose Bay on Vancouver Island and says he often sails the Duke Point (Nanaimo) to Tsawwassen (Vancouver) route with his dog, six-year-old Gemini, but during their March 8 trip, he had finally had enough.

He took a video of the vehicle deck pet area, which he says was captured on board the Coastal Inspiration and then posted the footage online.

It’s surpassed 41,000 views and has more than 200 comments as of April 9.

“I’ve been taking the ferry quite consistently for the past year and a half, actually. All the pet areas are in really unsavoury shape…It’s frequently just terrible, terrible conditions whenever you’re in them,” Landry told CHEK News Tuesday.

Some ferries have outer deck pet areas, but according to BC Ferries’ website, the Coastal Inspiration does not. Its pet area is located on one of the vehicle decks, where Landry says he went with his dog that day because they were walk-on passengers.

“Which is one of the main things as to why I always end up in those pet areas. A lot of people can’t afford to pay $100 each trip to bring their vehicles, so they do walk-on like myself,” he said. “It’s cheaper, but you’re stuck in the designated pet area.”

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@BC Ferries seriously, this is ridiculous. #bcferries #dungeon #goldenretriever #pet #area #disgusting #dobetter

♬ original sound – Old Man Crowe

In the video, he highlights the ‘potable’ water faucet in the vehicle deck pet area. He says he wanted to get his dog some water, but when he goes to turn it on, it doesn’t work.

“For my situation, I had already used up the water that I had in my water bottle before getting on the ferry and went to get my dog a bit of water and couldn’t because the faucet was completely shut off. Of course, while you’re in those areas, they don’t want you to leave those areas and leave your pet unattended,” he explained.

‘Great changes’ coming

Landry is hoping BC Ferries will reevaluate their pet areas.

“Make it so it’s more pet and owner-friendly. They literally just shove us into a closet. I know they do allow them (pets) on the sun deck of some vessels, but as soon as it cools down, it’s miserable to be up there,” he said. “You can either stay on the sun deck and be freezing the entire time, or you can go down to deck four to the designated pet area.”

The ferry company says “great changes” are in the works.

“We recognize that travelling with pets can be challenging at the best of times and are exploring ways to improve our pet areas,” BC Ferries told CHEK News Tuesday.

“Thanks to the feedback of customers, we’ve expanded outdoor pet areas on some of our vessels and more great changes are in store in the months ahead.”

‘A miserable experience’

For now, Landry says the vehicle deck pet areas are “frequently overcrowded, not very clean, and a miserable experience.” He says he and his dog could also walk around the car deck, “but I’m also walking in between vehicles the whole time.”

But the Coastal Inspiration’s pet area isn’t the worst in the fleet, he claims.

“Surprisingly, it’s actually one of the better ones, which makes no sense because the potable water faucet was not working,” he said.

Landry sums it up as a stressful experience for both dogs and their owners, especially when vehicle alarms go off in the vicinity of the pet areas. 

“I’ve got a few videos that I’ve posted of car alarms going off the entire time during sailings,” he said. “It’s frequent, and it’s constant, and people don’t come down to check on their alarms, they just let them go, let them run.”

BC Ferries often reminds drivers to deactivate their vehicle alarms and motion sensors while on board, adding that ship movement and vibrations can cause them to go off.

The company also encourages customers to notify staff of any issue or concern.

“Our pet areas are equipped with a number of amenities, and if for some reason there is an issue or a concern, like those mentioned by the gentleman on TikTok, we encourage customers to let one of our staff know,” a spokesperson said.

“We also encourage pet owners to take appropriate and responsible steps when travelling any distance with their pet — on land or sea — including travelling with items they need to care for their pet, such as a leash, water, and pet food.”

Landry is addressing those on TikTok who commented that he should have brought his own water for his dog.

“I had run out of water while boarding, unfortunately, and did not have access to a faucet before getting on board,” he said in an interview.

“It’s kinda a perspective thing. It’s one of those think about the situation before having an opinion. A lot of people jump to conclusions thinking people don’t plan ahead, but there are always other factors. It was just a situation that I had run out of water prior to that.”

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

Ethan Morneau

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