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Traveling by Washington D.C. public transit with a small dog

Photo by David Paul Ohmer

Photo by David Paul Ohmer

The Washington Metropolitan Area Transit Authority’s (WMATA) pet policy for the Metro and for D.C. area buses is as follows:

The only animals that are permitted on Metrorail are service animals that assist people with disabilities. Pets are not permitted to ride Metrobus or Metrorail. However, a pet can be transported on Metrorail and Metrobus in a secure container as long as there is no possibility that the pet can get free.

My spirits took a dip when I read the second sentence, but revived with the third sentence. Translated, the policy appears to be that unleashed dogs and dogs restrained only by a leash (whether muzzled or not) are not allowed on D.C. buses or the Metro, but dogs in carriers are.

[6/12/11 I was happy to re-visit the WMATA pet policy today, and learn that it’s been tidied up. Here’s how it reads now: “Service animals that assist people with disabilities are the only animals permitted to ride unconfined on Metrorail and Metrobus. However, a pet may be transported on Metrorail and Metrobus, provided it is carried aboard in a secure container from which it cannot escape.”]

“Secure container” is not defined, but, practically speaking, it means a carrier that zips closed or (if it’s a hard-sided carrier) has a steel latch closure. That, in turn, means that the carrier also has to have sufficient ventilation panels (since your dog can’t stick her head out for air).

As always, I strongly recommend that you put your dog entirely in her carrier and keep her there for the whole journey. I also recommend that you print out the WMATA FAQ page I’ve given you a link for and tuck it into the side of your carrier, so that if an uninformed Metro employee or fellow passenger questions you, you have the actual policy to show them.

For other posts about traveling with dogs on public transit, take a look at Dog Jaunt’s handy guide!