Saturday, January 2, 2016

Therapy Cat Tales: How Tabby Travels on Public Transportation

Tabby writes:

Today's Pet Travel Safety Day, so I'm writing about how I keep safe while traveling on public transportation.  When I'm in the car, I ride on harness & leash or in a carrier like the kitty pictured above.  However, when I go visiting the nursing homes and other places, I usually ride the bus or the MAX light rail train with Mommy.

This is my stroller.  It's specially-made for pets!  People think it's a baby stroller, but the top folds out and the mesh comes up so it's fully enclosed.  We decorate it for holidays, like these heart stickers for last Valentine's Day.

Heimdall also likes riding in the stroller, but usually only around the house after I get back from my visits.  He likes to roll places, mol!  Mommy is training him to go places, too, so he rides the same way I do.  Since Heimdall's in training, he isn't allowed to ride just on harness and leash.  He has to be in the carrier bag as well.  It fits right in the stroller and has mesh so we can see out.

When I go places on the bus, I have to be in the carrier bag also, because the bus rules for both the Vancouver buses (C-Tran) and the Portland public transportation (Tri-Met) say that all pets must be in carriers.  Some bus drivers don't consider the stroller an adequate carrier, so the carrier bag is taken out of the stroller and the stroller is folded down.  On the MAX light rail, I can stay in the stroller because strollers don't have to be folded down.

Animals that participate in animal-assisted therapy have to abide by the rules for pets, not the rules for service animals.  That's because we are still considered pets.  Service animals help only their owner, and with specific tasks for medical and/or psychological reasons.  Emotional support animals are pets but have specific housing regulations and airline regulations.  Therapy animals are pets that are trained with their owner to help other people in a variety of situations.  We can help random people on public transportation, but that is a side-benefit and does not grant us extra legal protection.  We are pets, first and foremost, and then we help people in specific settings like nursing homes, hospitals, schools, and therapists' offices.

These rules and laws help keep me safe on public transportation and out in public in general.  When I'm in my carrier bag, no one can pet me without my humans' approval because my carrier bag is zipped shut.  I also cannot escape from it, so if I get scared I can't run in an emergency.  I prefer to ride in my open stroller like in the Valentine's Day picture, but I also know that my carrier bag is my "safe zone" and ask to climb in it when I'm unsure of a situation or am too tired to visit anymore.

Dogs are another reason I like being safe in my stroller.  This dog actually wanted to hop in my stroller with me!  Another time, a husky actually picked me up.  When my stroller mesh is zipped, they can't get to me.  When it's unzipped, like this picture, my humans keep an eye out for dogs, small children, and other potentially-hazardous situations.  Most dogs get along well with me, but there are always exceptions.  That's why it's good to know the pet's boundaries and monitor the situation.

Safe travels, my friends!  Always follow the rules for pets on public transportation!


Summer said...

I am always so envious of you and your visits, Tabby! And how cool that Heimdall is learning too. My human is going to start taking me on the Metro Rail down here soon, but just in a carrier. It's all part of my training.

Pawesome Cats said...

Sounds like you are doing a wonderful job as a therapy cat - and I love your decorated stroller! Those are some very 'cool wheels'.

Anonymous said...

That stroller is pretty posh. In my visits, I walk around and people pet me. Sometimes I sit in their laps. Mom picks me up 8,000 times so people in wheelchairs can reach me. In the car, I wear my seatbelt.

Love and licks,

Deziz World said...

Dat's pawsum. We be service cats fur our mommy. But me is also a certified Therapy cat like you and we do special things like da nursing home fur Christmas, and me sumtimes goes to schools to help teach kids 'bout respawnsible pet ownership and such. But mostly me just helps mommy live independently. We luv yous stroller. Mommy never though 'bout decoratin' meez stroller, but me is gunna get her on it afur da next stroll. Good luck to Heimdall. Sounds like you boff will be havin' lots of gweat adventures afur long. Have a pawsum day.

Luv ya'

Dezi and Lexi

Christy Paws said...

I sure admire kitties who are brave enough to be therapy cats. Mom looked into that for me but decided she probably should have started my training at a much younger age -- I'm six now.