Should carriers have the right to refuse drivers with pets?
January 1, 2006
BELLEVILLE, Ont. - The life of a truck driver is often a difficult and lonely road, so any items - whether objects or living things - that remind the driver of home can be useful to help ease the burd...
BELLEVILLE, Ont. – The life of a truck driver is often a difficult and lonely road, so any items – whether objects or living things – that remind the driver of home can be useful to help ease the burden. Some carry pictures of loved ones and some actually bring the loved ones with them. Such was the case with Dave Nixon, a driver out of Belleville, Ont., who used to bring his Jack Russell terrier, Hamlet along for the ride. That is, until recently when he was terminated by his former employer for violating a “no dogs allowed in the truck” company policy (see February’s Truck News for the full story). Nixon says they tried to rob him of his only companion after going through a rough year in his personal life. Companies that label their trucks as “off-limits” for pets say the policy not only helps ensure cabs are kept cleaner and undamaged, they also reap additional savings by decreasing idling needed to keep the animal cool or warm. Truck News stopped by the 10-Acre Truck Stop in Belleville, Ont. to find out what other truckers think about Nixon’s case and a company’s right to refuse drivers with pets.
Ron Zlette, a company driver for GTI Roll Transportation Services in Lachine, Que., said an exception should have been made in Nixon’s case that would allow him to keep his four-legged companion in his truck. However, the driver of 13 years said that he knows of people who idle their engines to keep their pets warm, so he knows where the company is coming from.
“(Pets) should be allowed but drivers should have to clean up after them,” he said.
“If it was company policy, he should’ve picked another job,” he said. “As far as being unemployed goes, drivers are a dime a dozen so you could be employed tomorrow if you’re any good.”
Peter Fleuren, also a driver for GTI Roll, said that if it’s a question of damages to the truck, the company can’t be expected to foot the bill.
“Some guys will have perfect pets, but if you get a guy with a dog that starts chewing on something, who’s going to pay for the damage?”
The 30-year veteran said companies should adopt a policy where a deposit is put down to cover the cost of any damages caused by the dog, instead of not allowing pets at all.
“It’s a good way to meet each other halfway,” he said.
Guy Brule, another employee with Triple K, said outright: “I will not drive with a truck that has had a dog in it.”
Brule said he has had friends in the industry with dogs in their cabs and he can’t stand the smell. The driver of 26 years said he has to side with Nixon’s former employer and his co-worker, Smith, in this case.
“Every company has their own rules for a reason, so you’ve got to abide by them,” he said.
Jason Perry, a co-worker of Zlette’s and Fleuren’s, said he used to travel with a dog in his truck himself.
“I think it should be allowed. I’d bring my own dog, a Rottweiler, along in the truck with me for some company,” he said.
Though the company had no problem with Perry’s dog, he still thinks that companies reserve the right to deny truckers employment based on their policies. The job is for the trucker to find a company that will accommodate him.
“The (companies) can pick and choose who they want in their trucks. It’s like renting a house: if the landlord says, ‘No, you can’t have pets here,’ it’s the same situation.”