In 2016, The MTA ruled that if you wanted to ride with your pet on the subway, he had to be enclosed in a container.  Some owners of large dogs decided to push against the rule. Hilarity and some heated arguing ensued.

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Businesses Are Welcoming Dogs, Not The MTA

 

New Yorkers love their dogs.  In response, many new housing developments have grooming and veterinary services in the building, free wash stations for pets, and even pet feeding services available through the concierge in the lobby.  MiMa, at West 42nd street, has a bone-shaped doggie wading pool!  Businesses carry dog treats behind the counter, put water bowls out for dogs, and restaurants allow pets to sit at outdoor terraces with their owners, but the MTA has remained firm on its ban on pets on public transportation if the pet is not in a carrier.

 

What does the MTA Rule Say About Pets On The Subway?

 

The original rule for pets on public transportation stated:

 

“No person may bring any animal on or into any conveyance or facility unless enclosed in a container and carried in a manner which would not annoy other passengers.”

 

Small pet owners didn’t seem to mind, but owners of large breeds felt left in the doghouse.  They got creative with the ‘enclosed in a container’ part of the rule and soon dogs weighing 50 pounds or more started to show up on trains in all sorts of homemade bags.

MTA Says, “Call 911”

 

The initial pushback left MTA officials unsure of how to respond, but gradually, they turned up the heat on pet owners that they felt were deliberately thumbing their nose at the rules.

 

At one point, an MTA official responding to a photo of a large dog on a subway train that was not in a carrier, said that riders should call 911 if they saw dogs riding the subway in violation of the law.  The suggestion infuriated some riders.  One tweet in response to the MTA post said,

 

“Call 911?  For a dog? What about the waterfall at Bleecker Street station?  What about crime?  You want the NYPD to arrest dogs? Get ur priorities straight MTA!”

 

MTA Has Reason To Be Firm

 

To be fair, the MTA has important reasons to be strict with its rules.  There have been cases where passengers were bitten by dogs riding on subway trains.  Some people are allergic to pets and can’t sit or stand near them.  Many people don’t like pets and don’t want to be around them. Pets on leashes on crowded platforms are a tripping hazard and there are innumerable opportunities for dog fights to break out, for pooping or peeing on subway cars or on platforms, and the chance for accidents with pets that might escape onto the tracks or onto escalators.

 

 

Dogs In Subways Are At Risk For Leptospirosis

 

There is also the threat of zoonotic disease.  Stations are filled with rats, a carrier for a disease called leptospirosis. Dogs can not only become infected with leptospirosis, but pass it onto their human owners.  The disease is fatal in 5% of cases.  Every NYC dog should be vaccinated against leptospirosis.

 

 

MTA Rewords Ruling on Pets On NYC Public Transportation

 

To close any loop holes in the original wording, the MTA has subsequently changed the language about pets using public transportation and now states:

 

“Small domestic pets are permitted on the subway and on buses of New York City Transit and MTA Bus only when they are carried in kennels or similar containers that can be accommodated by you on your lap without annoyance to other passengers. No part of the animal may protrude from the container and pets should not occupy seats.”

 

We should point out that the MTA does allow service animals on trains.

 

Maybe Walk Your Dog Instead?

 

While it’s nice out, we suggest skipping the train and walking your pet to your destination if you are able; just be careful with short nosed dogs like pugs and bulldogs, that can overheat quickly when walking outside during warm weather.  No dog should be taken on long walks in the sun on pavement when the temperature is above 80 degrees without a break to be in the shade. It’s also a good idea to take a portable water bowl and water with you to give your pooch a drink.

Great portable bowl for dogs that can slip right into your bag.

 

There are dozens of cars services that will take your dog to his or her next destination. Here’s a link to get started.

Can my dog ride with me on Metro-North?

According to the MTA, your pet must be in a carrier or on a leash to ride the train with the approval of a conductor.  He or she may not occupy a seat.  Service animals are allowed.

Can my pet ride on the Long Island Railroad?

The MTA has the same rule for the Long Island Railroad that it does for the subway system:

“Small pets are permitted as long as they are carried in kennels or containers that can fit on your lap without inconveniencing other customers. No part of the pet should stick out from the kennel or container. Pets should not occupy seats or bother other customers. Service animals that are properly harnessed and accompanying people with disabilities are always welcome in MTA´s network.”

Can I bring my pet on an MTA Bus?

The MTA has the same rule for MTA busses that it does for the subway system:

“Small pets are permitted as long as they are carried in kennels or containers that can fit on your lap without inconveniencing other customers. No part of the pet should stick out from the kennel or container. Pets should not occupy seats or bother other customers. Service animals that are properly harnessed and accompanying people with disabilities are always welcome in MTA´s network.”

Can my large dog ride on the MTA if I buy him a fare?

No, you must obey the rules for pets on all MTA modes of transportation.  It is not necessary to buy a fare for your pet if he or she is riding on an MTA mode of transportation and is in compliance with the law.

Do I have to worry about leptospirosis?

About three New Yorkers contract leptospirosis every year.  Leptospirosis is transmitted through the urine of wild animals, mice, and rats, the chief vector in New York City.  Leptospirosis, caused by a bacteria, can infect both dogs and people. It is preventable with a vaccine that we carry at our office.

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