Coton de Tulear Dog on blanket in car on ferry
How safe is your pet on a Cross-Channel Ferry?

We regularly cross the Channel between England and France with our 2 dogs. It’s a bit of a hassle having to get to the ferry port earlier than non-pet-carrying passengers, and a bit more expensive paying for pet tickets too (especially as they get to stay in the car and don’t bother anyone), but overall we’re happier that they can come on holiday with us and so it isn’t a huge issue.

However, one thing we haven’t considered in the past is just how safe the dogs are on the car decks.

Nadine and I were watching the Brittany Ferries onboard safety video at the start of a recent crossing when she said to me… “What would happen to our dogs in the event of an emergency”?

Any evacuation procedure in place for pets?

Although we’d never thought about this before, I thought I already knew the answer… The car decks are locked and wouldn’t be opened in the event of an accident (for obvious reasons). In any event, pets are probably in more danger during the drive to and from the ferry port than on the ferry itself. However, as we pay to take pets on board, and as it would seem pretty terminal for them in the event of an accident at sea, I thought I would ask Brittany Ferries what their official policy was.

Actually – one of the great things about Brittany Ferries is that they constantly monitor their Twitter account and will respond if you Tweet a question referencing them. We’ve done this a few times in the past (e.g. when stuck waiting to get off a car ferry in France) showing how important it is for brands to monitor what people are saying about them on social media, and so I was pretty sure they would respond to a question about pet safety on ferries too.

Here’s what I asked…

Tweet to Brittany Ferries about pet safety

Brittany Ferries replied almost immediately…

Tweet from Brttany Ferries about pet safety on board

Interesting! So, I supplied them with my email address and a few days later received the following from them…

Thank you for getting in touch with Twitter and for enquiring about our emergency evacuation procedure.

The short answer is, currently there is no pet evacuation procedure included in our emergency evacuation procedure. In the event of an emergency, our priority would be with saving human life and we certainly wouldn’t put crew members lives at any more risk in order to rescue pets from the car deck.

Having said that, with the introduction of pet-friendly cabins on multiple routes where the animals are with the owners in the cabin for the entirety of the crossing, changing the procedure and adding something for our furry friends is something that we are currently looking into, along with life jackets that are suitable for dogs to wear.

It should also be said at this point that we have had an impeccable safety record for the 42 years we have been operation and, time after time, we pass random safety inspections (carried out by The Maritime & Coastguard Agency) with flying colours. This is a procedure which, of course, we hope that we will never have to revert to, and an awful situation to imagine, however, if it did, saving human lives would have to be our priority over pets.

I hope the above information has helped to clarify the matter, however, if you have any further questions please do not hesitate to contact me.

Totally understandable, and interesting that they are considering changing their procedure. I don’t know what the answer is, but suspect that there is one that hasn’t been thought of yet (we are sending photos back from Pluto after all and so I’m sure it’s not beyond the realms of human intelligence to find a good solution!). Pets on Cross-Channel Ferries offer a good, additional revenue for ferry companies, without adding terribly to their costs. I’m just wondering how much additional hysteria (and danger to passengers and crew) pet owners might generate in the event of an accident at sea when they try to get to their loved ones on the car deck!

Had any similar thoughts? Do you have any ideas about how or (or whether) this problem should be resolved? Please leave us a comment.

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