GRAND JUNCTION, Colo. (KDVR) — As people continue to have trouble getting to their destinations for the holidays, one video is going viral after two older women were forced off an Amtrak train in Grand Junction.
This all came after officials say their small dog – a Pomeranian – was disturbing other customers. The two women and their dog were headed to Chicago for Christmas and they barely made it there.
FOX31 dug deeper into the video, which has millions of views, and why police were called onto that train in the first place. Brent Bell took the video when this all happened on Dec. 21.
“Don’t let this ruin your holidays, sweeties,” you could hear him say while recording the moments Grand Junction police officers escorted the women and their dog off the train. He began recording on his phone, seconds after police approached the two.
“All this was over was a little bit of dog poop that they cleaned up fast and cleaned up immediately,” Bell said. These ladies were just shocked that this was the treatment that they were getting, that their holiday season was going to be interrupted,” he explained.
What happened in the viral Amtrak video
Here’s what happened.
The train left Oakland, Calif., just days before Christmas, and was Chicago-bound, and so too were the two sisters and their Pomeranian. Amtrak said the dog “created a disturbance by repeatedly barking, urinating and defecating” on the train. Bell said he began recording because he knew he would be witness to an injustice.
“I’m tired of unfairness and I have a little, I guess, I have a place in my heart for little old ladies,” he said. He felt bad for the two, especially because he is a dog trainer and knows how dogs, like Pomeranians, act and said the fact that she did have it on her lap was to keep it calm.
One of the sisters spoke with FOX31 off-camera and said she picked up poop from the train, but it wasn’t her dog’s and she did it out of courtesy. She also said she was upset because the train’s conductor and others were targeting them the entire ride and harassed one of them as they were going to the washroom.
Not long after the two were escorted off the train, the conductor asked Bell to put his phone away. Bell responded, “You don’t have a choice, I can record the scenery.” The conductor responded, “I have every choice on this train, this is mine.”
“I even said it to the people in the car, ‘Hey, has anyone been bothered by this little teeny dog?’ Not one person spoke up,” Bell told FOX31 in a Zoom interview.
Other pets were on that train and are usually allowed to ride – one per passenger, per policies the Problem Solvers checked online. FOX31 asked Amtrak to confirm this, other updated policies and the criteria for kicking off passengers. They did not answer the specific questions.
There is a GoFundMe started by Bell, online where it’s already raised over $500 for the two women.
Amtrak, police release statements
Amtrack released this statement:
We apologize for the inconvenience and disruption to our passengers’ holiday travel on Dec. 21. Out of concern for all our customers on Train 6, two passengers were told to deboard after their dog created a disturbance by repeatedly barking, urinating, and defecating in the customer seating area. The dog’s owner was given multiple warnings about the dog being on the seat and was given advance notice about stops where dogs could be taken on walks. Several nearby passengers also asked to be moved because of the noise and odor.Kimberly Woods, Amtrack
The Grand Junction Police Department released this narrative of the incident:
On 12/22/22, at approximately 10:50 a.m., officers with the Grand Junction Police Department responded to a call from personnel with Amtrak, requesting assistance with removing a passenger and dog from a train at 300 S. 1st Street. A staff member from Amtrak stated that the dog was being aggressive with other passengers and had defecated in the train car. As a result, the owner of the dog was asked by Amtrak staff to exit the train and refused. When officers arrived on scene, two women exited the Amtrak train on their own with the dog. After Amtrak had the women removed from the train, Grand Junction Police officers assisted the women with their luggage into the station and called the taxi service to take the two women to the Greyhound Bus Station so they could get to their destination. No one was arrested or cited as a result of this incident. Please contact Amtrak for information about any additional travel arrangements.Grand Junction Police Department
The owner of the dog said Thursday night that she heard back from Amtrak. They apologized and said she is welcome back on Amtrak trains with the dog. The women are expected to return to Oakland soon.