I recently visited my parents in Patna where their Indie-dog Julie had given birth to 8 pups. Unlike Bengaluru, Patna has limited facilities for pet care – vaccination, sterilisation, and adoption, so My brother and I decided to get them back to Bengaluru with me. We travelled with the pups by train – Here are the learnings from that experience.
Travelling long distances with your furry companion can be daunting, especially if it is the first time. Advance preparations help. Before you begin your journey, take your pet to the veterinarian to make sure it is fit to travel, as some animals simply cannot handle travel due to age, illness, injury, or temperament.
Keep these handy:
|1||Latest vaccination status of the pet|
|2||ID proof of the traveler|
|3||Essentials: Medicines, newspapers, pet pads, disposable bags, soap, antiseptic liquid, room freshener, bowls, blankets, muzzle (only if it is comfortable wearing it), collar and leash|
|4||Food (railways and airlines do not provide food for animals)|
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Rules for traveling with pets
Indian Railways facilitates travel for various types of animals, which are largely transported as luggage. Here are some options whilst traveling with pets:
- AC 1st class or a First Class compartment. (Dogs are not allowed to be carried in AC Sleeper Coaches, AC chair car coaches, sleeper class and second class coaches) They are charged at Scale ‘L’ (luggage Rates) on the basis of weight.
- For all other classes, you need to keep your dog in the brake van for the entire duration.
- Luggage/brake van where luggage charges are applicable
- Some trains provide specially designed dog boxes.
- The dogs must be leashed at all times, and are not allowed to roam without supervision.
Note: Under section 153 of the Indian Railway Act, Railways is not responsible for the loss, destruction, damage, deterioration, or non-delivery of animals after the termination of transit.
- Tickets can be booked via IRCTC website. Best to book direct trains wherever possible.
- Book the tickets for two (Coupe) or four (Cabin) – Even if you’re travelling alone, book for two! Because we never know how the other fellow passenger may react to our pet.
- A cabin is allotted to four people under one PNR, which helps travel without any fuss.
- If you’ve booked for two people under one PNR, you will have to write a letter to the Deputy Chief Commercial Manager (CCM) of Indian Railways of your zone stating you are travelling with your pet so you require a Coupe, via post or drop the letter in their Emergency Queue Box.
- Allocation of seats/coupe is done 4 hours before the departure time, which is then communicated via SMS and a chart is posted on the train.
- Pets have to be taken at least 3 hours in advance to the Parcel/Luggage office, where the documentation is verified – vaccination records, Aadhar Card copy, and Train Ticket.
- Pets are considered as luggage and the charges are based on distance.
- Irrespective of the age of the pet, the charges remain the same upto 60 kgs.
- The Parcel Office issues a pink receipt. Please keep it handy with your other documents.
“I went in person and talked to the Deputy CCM then dropped the letter, just to avoid any kind of risk because I was travelling for the first time.”
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There was one instance where one passenger from a different cabin complained saying I should not walk my pet in the corridor. However, there are no rules that prevent travelers from doing that. My pup was on a leash and I was walking him to relax and refresh, so it got resolved quickly.
Overall, my experience was very good.
Tips for traveling with pets:
- Familiarise your pet/s with the railway station so that it will not be stressed out on the day of travel.
- Acclimatise your pet by travelling with it for short distances on trains before undertaking long journeys.
- Since the pets are confined to a small space for long periods of time without much exercise, quantity of food can be reduced so that they do not get any indigestion.
- For long distance travel, identify the longest halt which will give you an opportunity to exercise the pets on the platform.
- The coupe bogies are generally attached at the beginning/end of the train which gives you the flexibility to take your pets out for a short walk in a relatively peaceful area.
- For older dogs, you can consult the vet for sedatives to be administered, so that they can sleep for most of the journey.
- To mitigate stress, it helps if you play with them as much as possible.
The journey was well worth it, because we managed to find loving families to adopt seven of them!