Fining Man’s Best Friend

Opinion | Christopher Anderson | May 2012

A 26-year-old woman riding the Straßenbahn in Graz in mid-April is caught without a ticket by one of the Schwarzkappler, or undercover ticket-checkers, circulating and performing random checks. She has a valid ticket; only, her dog doesn’t.

The fine? €62.

No, they don’t expect the dog to pay it.

According to Graz Holding, the pooch, a Pinscher and Spaniel mix-breed, is not considered a Schoßhund, or "laptop dog", translated loosely. It would need a 50% reduced-price ticket because it’s one of the "größere Hunde" or bigger dogs, as listed on the Authority’s website. Although small enough to sit on her lap, Mylo the dog sat at her side so her owner could have her backpack on her lap.

Seem extreme? The Wiener Linien has a similar rule: only the blind or handicapped can bring their dogs for free, as can holders of a Jahreskarte (annual ticket). All the other canines require a 50% reduced-price ticket unless it is in an animal-friendly carrier. A cardboard box doesn’t count.

On May 1, the Wiener Linien’s new pricing scheme will take effect with new offers such as €365 for a Jahreskarte, and no ticket required for bringing your bike on the U-Bahn. (But you knew you had to have a ticket for your bike, didn’t you?)

Isn’t it also time to do away with nit-picky requirements for man’s and woman’s best friends? Sometimes my suitcase is twice the size of some dogs, and it doesn’t need a ticket!

Although I haven’t read the fine print.


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