BC Ferries is letting pet owners bring their dogs and cats to the outside upper decks of vessels along three routes this summer under its expanded pet pilot program.

Starting today, May 15, cats and dogs are allowed on select areas of outside upper decks on ferries traveling between Horseshoe Bay-Departure Bay, Comox-Powell River and Earls Cove-Salery Bay.

Dogs must be on a one-metre leash, and cats must be in a travel carrier while on the outer decks.

To access the outer decks, pet owners must use designated stairwells and entrances that are marked by paw prints on the ground. Limited elevator access is allowed for people with accessibility needs.

“BC Ferries loves all animals but only dogs on leash and cats in carriers that are safe on the upper outer decks,” said the ferry operator in a release Monday.

There’s also a limit of two dogs per owner, and waste bags and water bowls will be set up in the designated upper deck pet area.

A 60-day survey can be filled out on these three routes, wherein travelers and BC Ferries workers can provide feedback on the pilot project.

This year’s pilot project follows a similar policy test along the Earls Cove – Saltery Bay route, which was launched last year.

BC Ferries says about 1,000 pets traveled on this route during the 2022 pilot project, and that 90 per cent of survey respondents approved the new policy.

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