This November, Stena Line is set to ban dogs from all passenger areas on ferries travelling the Irish Sea route between Northern Ireland and Cairnryan, Scotland.
Currently, the policy allows dogs on board, in passenger areas, provided they are kept in secured pet carriers. However the changes that come into play on November 1st mean that dogs are not allowed on deck in passenger areas.
The changes mean, that dogs will now have to be stowed in a vehicle, or left in the basic metal caged kennels in the car deck. With the new changes, thousands of dog owners are concerned for the animal safety and wellbeing. During sailing, dog owners will not have access to the car deck, and as we know, dogs being left in cars could be fatal.
Stena Line recently received a lot of press for their positive changes to creating dog friendly cabins on their Harwich to Holland route. Therefore many dog owners will associate with them positively, as a dog friendly transport service. However, on the Irish route, customers are only told that their pets must go to a caged kennel on the car deck or remain in the vehicle during the sailing, during the booking process. Prompting the age old question, dog friendly, or dog tolerant?
Stena states: “Pets travel free in vehicles and in our kennels but must be pre-booked. From 1st November 2022 we will no longer permit pets to travel in pet carrier cases in the passenger areas on board. Please ensure you book a kennel for your pet or select if your pet will remain in your vehicle.”
Dog Owners Petition For Change
Daniel Davison-Ward set up a petition, calling on Stena Line to re-consider their approach on the Irish Sea route, which has attracted thousands of signatures.
The petition states: “Currently on Stena Line’s Irish Sea routes pets must travel either locked in a car or in a kennel located on the car deck. This can cause unnecessary stress and discomfort for the animals.”
“Stena Line have introduced pet friendly cabins on their Harwich – Hoek van Holland route, allowing pets to travel alongside their owners in the privacy, comfort and safety of a cabin.”
“We ask Stena Line to provide pet friendly cabins or pet friendly areas on all vessels across their fleet to allow animal loving customers to be able to travel with their furry companions.
We don’t even mind paying a premium or surcharge for the privilege, meaning more income for Stena Line and less stress for us and our dogs.”
A Tail Of Two Countries
Dog lover Kirsty Speers From Dundee is a regular user of the Irish Sea crossing. Kirsty said:
“I’ve been living in Dundee, Scotland since I started University 13 years ago. My family on the other-hand live in a lovely wee coastal town in NI called Donaghadee. You can see Scotland from their house so it’s quite the location.”
“I got Archie in December 2020 and I take Archie on regular visits to see my family (and family dogs) in Donaghadee. I have a travel carry crate for him which he goes into happily and go onto the deck and passenger areas together. He is happy in his crate, has a wee nosey out the top, gets lots of attention, but just goes to sleep for the the two hour journey.”
Kirsty is just one of many dog owners who are anguished by the decisions made in Stena Lines policy changes:
“My dog doesn’t do well at all in kennels so it’s not an option for me to leave him alone in the car with car alarms going off and I’m unable to check on him. That’s not forgetting that temperatures in the hull of the boat can also get very warm with the ferry engine along with fumes.”
“The kennels are far from a suitable environment for any dog, not only for their health (as there have been reports of viruses spreading as a result of dogs being in these cages), but the well-being of the pet and the levels of distress they face being in these unpleasant kennels.
“This is a significant decision which has perhaps been made as a result of a minority of pet owners, but surely the solution is not to be penalising those who comply with the rules of pets on board?
“Stena Line, please re think your policy. To consider not only the well-being and welfare of our dogs and pets who cannot speak for themselves, but the well being of your passengers who want to travel their pet in comfort and safety.”
Standing Alongside Dog Owners
Adele founder of Dog Furiendly said: “I am dumfounded by the changes Stena Line have made to their policies. Dog ownership has increased significantly since COVID-19, and we have seen a large number of places opening their arms to accommodate the way we live with our furry friends.”
“The proposed changes are detrimental to the health and wellbeing of dogs. Leaving a dog in a car is dangerous, which is regularly campaigned and publicised by leading dog charities and organisations.”
“Another of our concerns is there is no option for dog owners to check on their canine companions. Many of them will be feeling alone, scared and anxious – particularly if they are sensitive to noises such as car alarms. We know that 85% of dogs across the UK, suffer from separation anxiety – this mental health condition has been overlooked.”
“Dogs are social creatures. Being with family (canine or human) is both an emotional and a social requirement for them. Keeping them in social isolation is cruel.”
It is another classic case of penalising the many for the actions of the few. While the world is becoming more progressive, Stena Line have taken a step back. We are disappointed with the changes, and like thousands of other dog owners, hope they can reconsider.”
Share Your Thoughts!
We would love to hear your thoughts on the situation. Do you think this is a good move from Stena Line, or are they barking mad for changing it? Let us know in the comments below.