file photo of a Via Rail train . (Photo by Jason Viau)

UPDATE: Woman Allowed To Travel With Both Service Dogs

An “amicable solution” has been reached to allow a passenger to bring two services dogs on a trip from Windsor to Toronto.

This comes after almost a week of confusion for a Windsor man and his daughter.

Mark Sadowski says VIA Rail was refusing to allow his daughter to bring the two service dogs despite allowing her to do so in August. A statement from VIA Rail stated the trip was allowed because of confusion over their policy.

“A few months ago, the customer was accepted with two services animals onboard due to an internal confusion with our policy. We have reinforced the details of our policy in internal documents and on our website. We sincerely regret the inconvenience caused by this incident. VIA Rail’s policy is to permit one guide dog or emotional support dog per passenger. This policy complies with the Canadian Transportation Agency’s (CTA) code of practice, as well as with all requirements under the Canada Transportation Act,” said Mariam Diaby in an emailed statement.

The trip is scheduled for Thursday morning and as of noon on Wednesday Sadowski had not been able to reach anyone with VIA Rail.

“I was promised two different phone calls. I finally got a form letter basically emailed to me without any contact information to get a hold of anyone that said basically, we don’t allow it. We’re not going to allow it. You can have a refund, have a nice day.” says Sadowski.

Sadowski says he and his daughter were only told six days ago that the trip would not be allowed. The trip is scheduled so the dog and its new owner can get further training during the busy holiday season. The training is necessary for the dog to be officially certified as a service dog.

“The dog needs to be aware of the situation its going to be in. In the long run its going to be in Toronto with a lot of city noise. It has to learn to ride the buses, it has to learn to ride the subways, it has to learn to ride the train,” says Sadowski.

Later Wednesday afternoon, Sadowski was finally contacted by a Via Rail representative about the solution.

“Mr. James Peters gave me a call this afternoon, was very contrite, and apologized for the situation. He explained what he’s going to do to remedy the situation so it doesn’t happen in the future. We worked out a compromise that I could go with Emily and the two dogs tomorrow,  so there would be one dog per person as the new rule implies, but they’ll be giving me a complimentary ticket,” says Sadowski.

Sadowski says Via Rail also offered him and his daughter a complimentary trip to Toronto in the future. He says he is pleased with the solution Via Rail came up with.

“I was very happy, they we’re very nice about what they did. I’m glad they worked it out with us. I wish it had of been earlier, but better late than never,” says Sadowski.

Sadowski says he wishes all companies would be more accommodating towards service animals.

“They need to understand service dogs are not pets, they are not toys, and they are not something to just parade around. They are trained animals, they are expensive animals, and they are highly trained animals. They are necessary for the people that have them. Most people are accommodating to that, but some people just don’t understand the rules,” says Sadowski.