Most of the time, human guardians bring their animal companions wherever they go — it may just be for a walk, a meeting with their friends, or a vacation. As part of the family, they won’t be left at home.
ANIMALS ON BOARD
Finding an animal-friendly public transportation service is a challenge human guardians face in the country. Renting a private vehicle costs a lot despite the short travel distance. People end up spending a lot of time browsing the internet and asking everyone online what buses, jeepneys, or vans allow animals.
For the longest time in the Philippines, public utility buses and jeepneys, utility vehicle express vans (also known as UV Express), premium point-to-point bus services, and train companies prohibited animal companions onboard. Until recently, a local mandate allowed animal companions in public transportation provided they comply with some requirements of the Land Transportation Franchising and Regulatory Board (LTFRB) Memorandum Circular No. 2020-003.
Despite a mandated policy allowing animal companions in public transportation, some provincial buses still put them in the compartment.
Kitty shared with Animal Scene that she finds it hard to find animal-friendly public transportation, especially since she doesn’t own a car and wants to stay with her Cat Milktea. She always considers the comfort of Milktea whenever she travels.
“I do not feel at ease when I cannot see him for a few or more days because I easily miss him a lot,” Kitty added. Despite vouching to pay for the seat Milktea will occupy and complying with LTFRB’s policies, most bus companies still refuse to allow Cats as passengers.
LTFRB’S POLICIES ON ANIMALS IN PUBLIC TRANSPORTATION
The following considerations are listed in LTFRB’s policies on allowing animal companions in public transportation.
Kitty has been following the news on the law about allowing animals on public transport. To her disappointment, she said, “[I was] ecstatic at first, but then the implementation of this law is not heavily imposed.”
Most bus drivers and conductors have yet to learn about these policies, and they end up placing animal companions in compartments under the bus. Those compartments have no proper ventilation.
Kitty was not going to risk Milktea’s safety for a two-hour ride, so she ended up waiting for a bus to accommodate them. That way, she could place Milktea beside her, where her Cat would be comfortable and less stressed.
According to the Royal Veterinary College, animal companions have a higher risk of getting heatstroke when left in a warm, humid, and poorly ventilated environment as they do not sweat like humans.
Despite these, having animals on board is frowned upon by some. Most companies do not want to make an effort to enforce such conditions and accommodate commuters with their animal companions due to some otherwise manageable risks their animals bring, such as making a mess inside, causing allergies, and disturbing other passengers.
However, there is a need to call for current changes in public transportation companies. Their flexibility might be timely, what with the growing number of commuters who bring their animal companions when traveling.
ENSURING A SAFE TRIP
Companies and lawmakers on animal companion policies and regulations in public transportation should revisit and implement the laws allowing animal companion transportation. They will benefit from engaging in consultations with public commuters, as many of the concerns about permitting animal companions on board can be resolved by responsible animal guardianship.