Traveling with your dog in NYC

Waiting for the subway the other day, I saw two guys that had not shaved in days carrying ginormous backpacks.  It was pretty obvious they were the nomad type.  The always moving, always scrounging, anti-roots kinda guys that were more comfortable sleeping under bridges than at the Plaza.  The most interesting thing about these guys was they both had dogs.  One guy had a Pit-bull and the other had what looked like a Yorkie pup.  As they walked across the platform, all possessions in hand, the dogs certainly drew attention.   The little Yorkie couldn’t keep up with how fast they were walking, so the backpacker scooped him up and put him under his arm.  It was odd and adorable at the same time. 

Then I wondered, how does one travel with a dog in New York City?  After doing some research, here’s what I found.

If you’re one of the few who’ve actually visited the MTA’s website, you know it can be improved.  I mean, their Accessibility page has the picture of the woman with the dog below.  Even the Golden Girls wouldn’t approve.

Bus or train:  Small dogs in carriers pass.  Big dogs – learn to hitchhike without an opposable thumb.

After some painful searching, here’s their official statement on dogs on the trains, buses, the LIRR and Metro North.

“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 by accommodated by you on your lap without annoyance to other passengers. Service animals properly harnessed and accompanying people with disabilities are always welcome in MTA’s network.” – MTA FAQ Page 

What about this dog?  Can we let him on the bus? Photo from Starcasm.net Top 10 dog costumes at 2011 Tompkins Square Park Halloween Dog Parade

DogBus

This is fine and dandy if you have a small dog, but what if your dog is too big for a crate or carry on bag?  What are your options?

Cabs: It’s like a box of chocolate, you never know what you’re gunna get.

Another common New York plight is being at the mercy of cab drivers.  We might yell empty threats at a driver for refusing to take us to Brooklyn, but when you’re not in the drivers seat, you don’t call the shots.  The same is true for allowing dogs in cabs.  If you’re standing at the curb with a large dog by your side, the driver might drive on by. But don’t lose hope.  I know people who have no trouble finding a cab with their dog.  They follow these simple steps:

  1. As you hail a cab, have your dog look like the teachers pet by standing nicely beside you. 
  2. If your dog is an Olympic shedder, bring a towel or blanket to put over the seat.
  3. Tip nicely.
  4. Wish your cab driver a nice day and say, ‘My dog says thank you.’

Pet Taxis: ‘spare no expense’

If cabs aren’t readily available in your area, you’re on a strict schedule and you can afford it, taxis designed specifically for pets are available.  Here’s a rough price comparison of two NYC companies.  Non-Manhattanites: you could pay more and surcharges may apply. 

  1. Pet Taxi (212) 755-1757        
  2. Pet Chauffer (212) 696-9744

Distance       Pet Taxi   Pet Chauffer 

30 blocks     $30          $37

60 blocks     $35          $42

90 blocks     $40          $48

Airport rates start at (anticipate more for tolls and tip)

                     Pet Taxi    Pet Chauffer 

LGA               $76           $91

JFK/EWR      $96          $117

Tip: If you mention you were referred by ASPCA, you can get a $10 discount. ASPCA’s NY FAQ

If you need to take your dog into the vet for an emergency, AmbuVet seems to be the biggest player in NYC.  The rates for ambulance service are considerably more. Probably because of the added cost of equipment, immediate response and liability coverage. Pet Taxi also has been used by patients of ASPCA Bergh Memorial Animal Hospital

“All AmbuVet vehicles are equipped with a specially modified rear compartment that includes localized climate control, padding, stretchers and ramps that ensure comfort during the trip. First aid and oxygen are available for more critical cases.” – AmbuVet Website

Here’s some other sites for knowing how to travel in the city.

Have you ever felt stuck in your neighborhood because you can’t take your dog on the bus or train?  We’d love to hear your stories about getting around with your dog. Perhaps you could split a pet taxi with a neighbor?  

If you’re interested in being part of our dog loving community, sign up for Waggit.  We’d love to have you!  

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