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Travelling with a Guide Dog, Service Dog or Emotional Support Dog

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Please note that this policy only applies to guide dogs, service dogs and emotional support dogs.  It does not apply to pets.

What is a guide dog or service dog?

Is a dog which:

has been individually trained and certified to perform tasks that provide assistance related to the person’s disability, including a motor, sensory, psychiatric, intellectual or other cognitive disability. 

For example:

  • autism service dogs;
  • diabetic alert dogs;
  • hearing ear dogs;
  • special skills dogs;
  • guide dogs (specifically trained for guiding a person who is blind or partially sighted);
  • post-traumatic stress disorder dogs; and
  • seizure response dogs.

Travelling with a Guide Dog or Service Dog

  • VIA Rail allows one (1) service dog per passenger on board its trains. 
  • Only dogs are accepted.
  • For operational reasons, a 48 hour advance notice is requested.  When within 48 hours, VIA will make a reasonable effort to accommodate.
  • Certified Guide and Service dogs always travel free.
  • Your dog must remain on the floor or on your lap.
  • Your dog must accompany you everywhere on board, including where food is served.

In Economy Class or Business Class a second seat at no additional cost will be booked to make sure both you and your dog are comfortable.  On certain departures you may also occupy a double bedroom at a reduced fare.

The customer may be required to produce documentation indicating that the dog has been certified by an accredited institution to work as a guide or service dog.

You may purchase your tickets by telephone at 1 888 VIA-RAIL (1 888 842-7245) or in person at one of our ticket counters.  If you are deaf, hard of hearing or speech-impaired, contact us via a teletypewriter (TTY) at 1 800 268-9503 or by email at support_services@viarail.ca.

What is an emotional support dog?

Is a dog which:

  1. is used by a person with a mental health disability as diagnosed in accordance with the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders to provide support or comfort to persons by the dog's presence;
  2. has not received certified training to perform specific tasks to assist a person with a disability; 

Travelling with an Emotional Support Dog

  • VIA Rail allows one (1) emotional support dog per passenger on board its trains. 
  • Only dogs are accepted.
  • Mature animal – The dog must be 18 months or older.
  • For operational reasons, a 48 hour advance notice is requested.  When within 48 hours, VIA will make a reasonable effort to accommodate.
  • Your dog always travels free.
  • Your dog must remain on the floor or on your lap.
  • Your dog must accompany you anywhere on board, including where food is served.

In Economy Class or Business Class a second seat will be booked at no additional charge to make sure both you and your dog are comfortable.  On certain departures you may also occupy a double bedroom at a reduced fare.

Acceptance:

  1. If you are travelling with VIA Rail with your emotional support dog for the first time, you must:
  1. provide a signed Medical Certificate from a licensed medical doctor or licensed mental health professional (ex. psychiatrist or psychologist), and
  2. the Medical Certificate must state that the passenger cannot travel alone without an emotional support dog, and
  3. the Medical Certificate must be dated and signed one year or less prior to the date of train travel, unless the Medical Certificate indicates that the functional limitation is permanent; and
  4. provide a signed and dated “Conditions for travel with an Emotional Support Dog” form.

Template for the medical certificate and conditions for travel document: Please download the Confidential Medical Certificate for Passengers Requiring an Emotional Support Dog and Conditions for Travel with an Emotional Support Dog and have them completed.

Once completed, the forms must be forwarded to (support_services@viarail.ca/ fax 506 859-3943) for approval.  You will be contacted within 48 hours to receive confirmation of approval and instructions on how to reserve your trips with your emotional support dog.

  1. If you have already completed the authorization process, please purchase your tickets by telephone at 1 888 VIA-RAIL (1 888 842-7245) or in person at one of our ticket counters to let us know which special services you require. VIA requires a minimum of forty-eight hours' advance notice of any special requirements.  VIA Rail may require updated documentation.

If you are deaf, hard of hearing or speech-impaired, contact us via a teletypewriter (TTY) at 1 800 268-9503 or by email at support_services@viarail.ca.
 

Control measures

Guide, Service and Emotional Support dogs must be harnessed, leashed, or tethered, unless these devices interfere with the service dog’s work or the individual’s disability prevents using these devices.

VIA personnel may require you to remove your dog from the train or from the station premises if:

  1. The dog is not properly controlled and effective action is not immediately taken to control the dog (for example, a dog barking repeatedly and uncontrollably or is not housebroken); or
  2. The dog poses a threat to the health or safety of others.

If you are asked to remove your dog, but would like to remain on the premises and/or continue to travel without the dog, you must make arrangements at your cost for another person or local animal control to assume custody of the animal, and you may be required to continue the VIA train trip at a later time or on a later date.

You also have the option of placing your dog in the baggage car when available.  In this instance, you must have a cage for the dog.

Relieving areas (toilet breaks)

  1. Corridor trains: no relieve breaks are available.
  1. Long Haul trains:
  •  If the train is running on-time we will stop at the stations listed below.


The Canadian (Trains 01 and 02):
Capreol, Hornepayne, Sioux Lookout, Winnipeg, Saskatoon, Edmonton, Jasper and Kamloops


The Ocean (Trains 14 and 15):
Moncton, Campbellton and Sainte-Foy

  • If the train is not running on schedule or if the length of time between stops is unreasonable, arrangements must be made with the Service Manager on board to have the locomotive engineers stop the train at intermediate locations, when it can be done safely.
     

Passengers are advised of the applicable stops, and arrangements are made on board during the trip and before station arrivals. These guidelines are validated with each particular passenger’s itinerary and adjustments are made if needed.

Other passengers

Some passengers may be uncomfortable with the presence of an assistance dog, due to factors such as allergies, cultural reasons, personal discomfort or fear of the animal. To respond to conflicting needs, VIA Rail personnel will consider options, such as relocating passengers to separate areas of the train.

Service animal trainers and Volunteer Handlers

If you are a service animal trainer or volunteer handler of puppies waiting to begin formal training, we ask that you provide us with proof of your occupation as a trainer or volunteer handler such as a business card or letter from the training agency. Once this condition has been satisfied, you may bring free of charge one (1) guide dog, service dog or foster puppy on board your train with you. All animals must be house-broken to be able to make lengthy trips and wear a harness and leash. In both Economy Class and Business Class, you will be assigned a second seat free of charge so that both you and your dog are comfortable. On certain departures you may also occupy a cabin for two persons at a reduced fare.

*If your particular circumstances fall outside the statements of the policy, please contact our Customer Relations group by telephone (1 800 681-2561), email (customer_relations@viarail.ca) or fax (514-871-6104) and we will review your request.