I am a miniature pinscher named Tito.

I have two humans as companions.

For 25 years my doggy predecessors and I have been loyal customers of the Steam Packet.

Back then dogs could travel ‘onboard’ to both Liverpool and Heysham problem free.

So, we dogs used to take our human family on frequent spur-of-the-moment trips by ferry – spending loads of money on Steam Packet tickets.

Over the years the service provided to loyal dog customers has declined drastically:

l We can no longer travel ‘onboard’ to Liverpool. That’s a 50% reduction in ‘on-board’ service level.

l Even on Ben-my-Chree, we are now forced to compete for limited space in a Dog Area.

l Dog cabins are like gold-dust and limited to between two/four on the Heysham crossing only.

So, nowadays, my retainers often give up in despair. That means no journey is booked – with considerable loss of revenue to the Steam Packet.

IoMSP say The Manxman will bring an improvement in dog facilities with two dog areas.

But while cabin numbers have doubled (from 20 to 40), still only four dog cabins are planned.

That is exactly the same inadequate number that IoMSP often provides on Ben my Chree.

And despite Manxman, dogs still lack an ‘on-board’ facility on the Liverpool route.

Dogs are recognised as man’s best friend and 60% of UK households have a pet, with dogs as the most popular.

For our human friends we track down criminals; locate drugs; find and save people in disaster zones; detect bombs and explosive devices.

We guide the blind and guard, listen, fetch and carry for those with mobility, hearing, and communication issues.

And of course, we act as 24-hour companions to our humans – keeping them calm, protecting their homes and taking them on walks for their health and fitness.

Even humans with allergies have dogs, due to the other health benefits dog companionship brings.

So, I find it difficult to understand why a few simple adjustments are not made to increase ‘onboard’ dog capacity and increase revenue.

(i) Provide a roped-off ‘on-board’ dog area on Liverpool crossings.

(ii) Provide more ‘Multi-Use’ cabins with the ability to accommodate families with their pets.

I know the Steam Packet thinks it only gets £15 from dogs travelling ‘onboard’, so it is not a worthwhile issue.

But, in reality if I cannot be accommodated ‘onboard’, the trip with my two retainer does not get booked.

So, it is not £15 in lost revenue, but more like a £500 return trip.

This shortage in ‘Dog Onboard’ availability occurs regularly. So the Steam Packet is losing about £2,000 per year in my case alone.

Multiply this by other households experiencing the same problem and the loss to IoMSP could easily be hundreds of thousands of pounds per year.

As IoMSP is publicly owned, why are Manx taxpayers not reaping this benefit?

Finally, I do appreciate that dogs can travel free if left inside cars parked on the car deck.

But, given our sensitive hearing, the potential for ear-piercing car alarms to be triggered and the fact that we are not issued with ear defenders like deckhands are, this is not the most suitable way for every dog to travel.

I would really appreciate the help of fellow dogs and their retainers in writing to IoMSP and their MHKs to support the need for more ‘on-board’ dog provision generally.

And to restore an ‘onboard’ facility for dogs on the Liverpool route. Shake a paw.



This letter first appeared in the Isle of Man Examiner of May 16.

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