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Are Dogs Allowed on the NYC Subway? Guidelines & Exceptions

Written by: Rachael Gerkensmeyer

Last Updated on April 25, 2024 by Dogster Team

man going to the NYC subway station

Are Dogs Allowed on the NYC Subway? Guidelines & Exceptions

Traveling throughout New York City is more convenient and cost-effective with the help of the city’s subway system. For just around $2,1 you can ride from borough to borough without worrying about traffic and oblivious pedestrians and bike riders. However, when it comes to traveling with a dog, it is not as easy as just walking on a subway train together to get where you need to go.

Yes, dogs are allowed on the NYC subway system but not freely (unless they’re a service animal). There are guidelines to follow whenever you’re traveling with a dog on the subway. Here’s what you should know.

NYC Subway Dog Travel Guidelines

New York City has established a rule that all dogs riding on the city’s subway system must be in a container, and they must not obstruct other riders from being able to access railings and seats inside the subway trains. Unfortunately, the rule is quite vague and does not establish what an acceptable container is. It is also not clear as to whether a dog’s container can take up a seat itself or must be able to fit underneath the owner’s seat.

Therefore, people have interpreted the subway rules for traveling dogs in their own ways, such as putting their large dog in an equally large bag. You can see “containers” of many different varieties coming on and off subway trains throughout the day.

Bear in mind that creative interpretations of the rules can result in being kicked off the subway or not being let on at all. While some people get away with using “containers” that don’t actually contain their dogs, others are denied access to subway rides for not taking the rule seriously. For instance, one man argued with the MTA conductor about whether his dog’s “container” was acceptable.2 In the end, he was denied access to the subway and had to find another way to travel with his canine companion.

To ensure that your dog is allowed on the NYC subway system, make sure they are in an enclosed kennel, with no part of their body sticking out, including their head. Any other kind of container can get you singled out by the conductor and kicked off the subway before your travel even begins.

Other modes of transportation that your dog may be able to take part in include:

  • A Taxi — As long as the driver is okay with it, your dog can accompany you on taxi trips throughout the city.
  • The Staten Island Ferry — Dogs that are kenneled or muzzled can ride on the ferry,3 giving you flexibility in avoiding a container altogether.

The bus and commuter rail lines have the same container rules that the NYC subway system maintains.

pet on a carrier inside the subway
Image By: PARALAXIS, Shutterstock

An Exception for Service Animals

While there are rules for taking your dog on the NYC subway system, there is an exception for service animals. The Americans With Disabilities Act (ADA) establishes that all businesses, non-profits, and government services and facilities must accommodate service animals without restrictions, such as containment.

The ADA states that a dog is considered a service animal when they are trained to perform a specific task that directly relates to their owner’s disability. The conductors on NYC subways can only ask two questions to establish whether a dog is a service animal:

  • Is the dog required to assist with a disability?
  • What task has the dog been trained to perform?

They are not allowed to ask for documentation proving that a dog has been trained or registered as a service animal or to require that a dog performs the task that they have been trained to do.

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While it is possible to take your dog on the NYC subway system, you’ll need to make sure they are properly contained in a kennel so you don’t end up getting kicked off the subway, if you are even let on in the first place. If you’re in doubt about whether your dog’s container will qualify for a ride on the subway, call the Metropolitan Transportation Authority to get clarification.

Featured Image Credit: Wells Baum, Unsplash

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