BC Ferries expands "pets on outdoor deck" policy to more routes

May 15 2023, 10:31 pm

BC Ferries suggests the public’s barking at them led to its decision to expand its pilot project of allowing pets on more ferry routes, including a major route between Metro Vancouver and Vancouver Island.

In a pun-packed news release today, the ferry corporation states dogs on leashes and cats in carriers will be allowed on the upper outside decks on selected vessels on the routes between West Vancouver’s Horseshoe Bay and Nanaimo’s Departure Bay, as well as between Comox and Powell River, and between Earls Cove and Saltery Bay.

This policy begins today, building on Fall 2022’s initial pilot project on the Malaspina Sky vessel between Earls Cove and Saltery Bay, which produced “pawsitive” passenger feedback.

BC Ferries states passengers with pets told them this new ability to bring pets to the upper deck “completely eliminates” their dog’s stress when left in the car, and is a drastic improvement from the pet room on the vehicle deck.

The ferry corporation notes about 1,000 pets travelled on this one ship during the pilot project, with 90% of respondents of a survey in favour of expanding the pet areas to the outer decks of other ferries.

The specific policies enabling pets to be on the upper outside decks include requiring owners to keep their dogs on a one-metre-long leash at all times and cats to remain inside a travel carrier, with access to the area via a designated stairwell. Paw prints on the deck mark the access points.

Furthermore, pets must stay within the designated pet area when on the outer passenger decks. These regularly cleaned areas will include waste bags and water bowls.

It is also noted there is a limit of two dogs per owner.

According to the ferry corporation, the number of passengers travelling on BC Ferries greatly increased during the pandemic, rising from 5.5% in 2018 to 13.7% in 2020.

Kenneth ChanKenneth Chan

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