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My Gay Toronto - MGT Hot Topic

A dog day afternoon on,
or not on, the TTC

By Lee Fancy Leber

There can be very unfortunate times to learn about TTC transit policies.

On a day off we, my dog and husband, decided to explore a different part of town and go to Ashbridge Bay Park. We mapped out our route: the Bloor subway to Woodbine, then continuing  south to Queen St. We explored the Beach Village and wound up at Kew Gardens for most of the afternoon.

After a couple of pleasant hours we had to leave, clouds were rolling in and it looked like rain was about to begin. We packed up and went to Gerrard and Queen to catch the 506 streetcar. We were at the first stop, so we knew we would get a seat and Charlie, our dog, would get to rest after a long day.

The door opened to an empty streetcar but we walked up at the driver said, "No dogs allowed during rush hour," which is 6:30am to 9:30am and  4pm to 7pm. At the time it was 4:20pm and rush hour had just started.

After 14 years of living in Toronto and always having pets I protested. I have been on the TTC during rush hour may times before and never had an issue. I also stated that my dog is a mini-Dachshund, he weighs just 12 pounds, and that we live at Yonge and Bloor which its too far for us to walk now. Especially with a rain storm about to strike. Nonetheless the driver said,"No," and we had to get off.

I immediately called the TTC. The operator confirmed the policy. I told him that that meant we were stuck in a rainstorm with an exhausted dog but the operator said, " I guess you're stuck then till 7pm."

We started to walk, carrying Charlie, until we saw another street car. We decided to take a chance and try again. When we got there, there were two other owners with dogs and we wondered if we all would get on. We all got on and the driver did not say one word.  All of us sat down with our "small breed" dogs and were very relieved. We asked if they had attempted the previous streetcar and they too were refused entry. They also did not know about the by-law.

We got home just before the rain.But I can't help but think about how stupid that by-law is. I agree with the concept, but it is too general in scope.  Small dogs, even during rush hour should be acceptable: if the car/bus is not crowded or if it is you can hold the dog. I don't want to discriminate against large breeds, but most dogs downtown are small breeds and their little legs cannot walk as far as the others. According to the City of Toronto, there are over 80,000 dogs living in the downtown core and 72 percent are considered small breeds under 20 pounds. We need the by-law changed to accommodate the ever-growing condo population and their pets. If not you are left to take your chances with the whims of a TTC driver, and we all know: that is risky at the best of times!

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