Advice on Pet Transportation New York City

pet transportation new york city

Columbus Day Weekend is just around the corner and it’s not too soon to start researching how to travel out of town with your pet. Figuring out pet transportation in New York City can be a lot simpler than you think. With just a little research (and sometimes a little more cash than you’d like to spend) you can get your pooch around the city, and in and out of town, pretty easily.

Scroll down to find out more about trains, rental cars, Ubers, taxis, subways, planes, and more!

Most New Yorkers don’t have cars, and renting autos can be costly. That means city folk are generally reliant on trains for getting in and out of New York City. The Long Island Railroad (LIRR) and Metro-North have different rules about dogs even though they are both part of the Metropolitan Transportation Authority (MTA.)

pet transportation new york city

Can I Bring My Dog on the LIRR?

On the LIRR you can travel with any animal that is properly confined for shipment. Working service dogs are exceptions and don’t need to be contained. The LIRR website specifies:

Small domestic pets are permitted provided 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. Service animals properly harnessed and accompanying people with disabilities are always welcome in MTA’s network.

That said, I’ve seen people bring large dogs in carriers going out to Fire Island. Big dog owners, proceed at your own risk.

Can I Bring My Dog on Metro-North?

Metro-North is slightly different. Dogs can be leashed instead of crated, so long as they behave. Metro North says:

Small domestic pets are permitted provided they’re carried in kennels or similar containers, or are securely controlled on leashes throughout the trip and do not annoy other customers.  Pets should not occupy seats and are subject to approval by the conductor. Service animals properly harnessed and accompanying people with disabilities are always welcome in MTA’s network.

Can I Bring My Dog on New Jersey Transit and PATH trains?

If you’re heading west to New Jersey, New Jersey Transit trains allow dogs in crates or containers and PATH trains allow dogs in crates or containers.

pet transportation new york city

Can I Bring My Dog in Rental Cars?

Another option is using short term car rental services like Zip Car. When Bodhi was in physical therapy at the Animal Specialty Center in Yonkers, we took him back and forth using a Zip Car. The company allows dogs, but they must be crated or put in containers. Other car rental companies, like Hertz, Alamo, Budget, and Avis, are pretty accommodating as well. Typically dogs are allowed, but very frequently the cars we’ve rented come with a warning that transporting pets can result in extra cleaning fees. Sometimes those charges can be pretty hefty. Transport a dog in a rental car at your own risk! Or just make sure the car is EXTRA clean when you return it. Usually we try to vacuum our rentals when we’re done. So far, we’ve never had to pay any cleaning fees and we rent cars a lot! We must doing something right. Of course, renting cars in New York City, especially Manhattan, can be very expensive. Give some thought to renting a car in New Jersey or at La Guardia.

pet transportation nyc

pet transportation new york city

Can I Bring My Dog in Car Services or on the Hampton Jitney?

There are also many “dog taxi” services in New York City. These are basically vans that can be hired to taxi you and your dog anywhere you want to go. We’ve used them a few times. They can vary widely in price. If you Google “pet transportation new york city” you’ll find plenty of options. They also leave their business cards in vets’ offices. I think if you need transportation for medical reasons, you should definitely consider one of the pet taxis. Some of them specialize in transporting animals to and from the vet’s office; at the very least, the pet taxis are going to be sensitive to the needs of a sick animal and its owner. They are also good for longer jaunts; we used one once to get to Sayville, out on Long Island.

You can also try to use any of the old school car services like Carmel or Dial 7. They generally require that your dog be in some type of container.

And another option for out-of-town travel is the Hampton Jitney. They say pets are okay as long as your pet is in a D.O.T. approved carrier that you are able to carry onboard with you. Pets must remain in carriers at all times. There is a charge of $10 to travel with your pet. Keep in mind that your pet, in its carrier, will have to travel on your lap if the coach is full. I called Hampton Jitney’s North Folk office to see if there was a size restriction. The charming lady I spoke to said there’s no weight restriction, but “you can’t bring your Saint Bernard on!” She reiterated the policy that you need to be able to easily carry your dog on board in a carrier.

pet transportation new york city

Can I Bring My Dog on Planes?

If you need to travel longer distances, we here at Urban Dog recommend driving. Flying can be pretty stressful for dogs. But if flying is the only option, here’s a little information to get started. All of the major carriers allow dogs in the main cabin. United Airlines, American Airlines, Delta Air Lines, Hawaiian Airlines, and Alaska Airlines all permit dogs in the climate-controlled checked baggage areas. The rules for traveling with dogs on planes are similar for each airline, but they differ enough that you really need to check out the individual rules for each carrier. Here are a few examples: the cost to fly in cabin with your pet ranges from $75 to $125 one way; some airlines allow animals in First Class, others don’t; the minimum age that a dog can fly varies from carrier to carrier. Follow these links to get all the details: United Airlines, American Airlines, Delta Air Lines, Hawaiian AirlinesAlaska Airlines, Frontier, Virgin America, Spirit, JetBlue, and Southwest.

pet transportation new york city

Traveling in the city presents a completely different set of challenges. But, between private companies, like Uber, and public transportation, you should be able to come up with plenty of usable options.

pet transportation new york city

Can I Bring My Dog in an Uber or Lyft?

A while back, our Weimaraner Bodhi had surgery on his foot. Like all owners of large dogs in New York City, we were suddenly confronted with the problem of how to get him back and forth easily from the vet’s office. We quickly learned that Uber was probably the best option for us at the time.

Uber’s and Lyft’s policies on carrying dogs are left to the driver. Here’s Uber’s official line: “In accordance with local and federal laws in your area, service animals are permitted to accompany riders at all times.” Lyft has a similar policy: “Unless the passenger has a service animal, it’s entirely up to the driver whether or not to allow the passenger’s pet in the vehicle. We advise passengers to call their drivers right after their requests are accepted to confirm that it’s okay to bring their pets.” Use your app to send a text message or call to let the driver know you’d like to bring a pet. Please help drivers keep vehicles clean for all riders by bringing a crate or blanket to reduce the risk of damage or mess. Some drivers may keep a blanket in the trunk.

We do want to stress that our experience with Uber was more than a year ago. Since then we have heard from readers who say that their experiences weren’t quite as easy as ours. Scroll through the comments below to read about some other people’s experiences.

pet transportation new york city

Can I Bring My Dog in NYC Taxis?

Taxis are allowed to pick up dogs, but it’s left to each driver’s discretion. Our advice: try to hail a cab with your dog visibly leashed and behaving by your side. We’ve had success that way, but it sometimes takes awhile for a taxi to stop. We also brought a towel with us to put on the seat for Bodhi to sit on. Again, we always tip generously.

pet transportation nyc

Can I Bring My Dog on NYC Ferries and NYC Water Taxis?

New York Waterway, on the Hudson and the East rivers, says “Only service dogs or small dogs in pet carriers are allowed on board.” The Staten Island Ferry says: “Pets, other than service animals as defined by the Americans with Disabilities Act, are not allowed in the facilities and/or onboard the ferry boats, unless they are caged and/or muzzled.”

pet transportation new york city

Can I Bring My Dog on NYC Busses and NYC Subways?

Public transportation is the cheapest option for traveling with pets, however, it’s not as easy using public transportation within in the city as it is on the private enterprises. Dogs are allowed on New York City busses and New York City subways, but they have to be in containers and can’t be a nuisance to other passengers. That’s relatively easy if you have a small dog, with large dogs it’s a bit more challenging!

The restrictions on dogs on all MTA -governed transportation do not apply to service dogs. (The MTA pretty much governs all public transportation in NYC: subways, busses, trains etc.) Here is how the MTA defines “service dog”:

“Service animal’ means a guide dog, signal dog, or other animal individually trained to perform tasks for the benefit of a person with a disability that such person is unable to perform due to such disability, such as guiding persons with impaired vision, alerting persons with impaired hearing to sounds, pulling a wheelchair, retrieving dropped items or providing rescue assistance. The term service animal does not include a therapy animal or animal used for emotional support.

pet transportation new york city

We mentioned above that you should want to consider a dog taxi for medical issues. In the case of an emergency, you might want to go one step further and call a pet ambulance service like Ambuvet. For more, read their FAQ. If you’re reading this and need ambulance service immediately, here’s their number: 800-AMBUVET (800-262-8838.)

We here at Urban Dog hope you and your pooches have great adventures on the road!

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35 comments

  1. Great site! Thanks for this post. As the owner of a 40-pound pit mix and resident of Manhattan, it’s challenging bringing my dog out to Long Island to see my family. I always end up renting a car, which is quite expensive and limits how often I can visit. Can you recommend any carriers for my dog’s size?

    1. Thanks for the comment! Glad you like the site. Sorry for the delay in response, we’ve been away from an Internet connection for the last few days. You are right, carriers for big dogs are challenging. We did a lot of research and ultimately decided to bite the bullet and rent a car every time we took our 70+ pound dog out to Long Island. THAT SAID we met someone who had a custom carrier made and was very happy. They gave us this site: http://www.celltei.com/tailorforpets.html … and here’s one specific for NYC: http://www.celltei.com/waterdog50lbs.html (that one is SUPER EXPENSIVE!) Sorry we don’t have more info! Good luck1

      1. Hi Sean,

        Is there a reason why you chose to never try the dog stroller option for your 70 lb dog (assuming your dog is okay with crates?)? I’ve read on a few sites that people with strollers opt for the wheelchair car on the LIRR. Granted in those cases there was a human child inside, but in theory it would seem like it could work with a large dog as well.

        I ask because I have a very crate-trained 70 lb shepherd who is very lanky and enjoys curling himself up into a small ball. I’d like to try the stroller option except I can’t come across any sites that mention trying it out successfully with large dog. It’s led me to wonder if there are any caveats I just haven’t come across?

      1. Hey Tim — I wouldn’t trade my 75 pound dog for anything. I would never characterize traveling with Bodhi as a hassle. I LOVE taking my dog with me whenever I can. It’s been moderately challenging at times, and sometimes a bit more expensive than I would have cared for, but I wouldn’t trade my experience with the big lug for anything.

        Thanks for your interest in Urban Dog! We hope you visit us often!

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  3. I just want to say thank you very much and your article is very helpful. BUT…as a warning to those out there the drivers at Uber have very clearly changed there tune in terms of how many are willing to transport dogs and other pets. I own a relatively small and easy to handle basenji but in both cases when I have requested an uber and call ahead to make sure my dog (Jezebel) had the okay I was turned down by 3 drivers and accepted by the 4th finally, then on second time ysing uber it took 5 drivers to find one that approved her. So…more drivers are less willing but don’t get discouraged of its not business hours and you need a car service to transport your pets uber will eventually say yes. Just keep calling!!!

    1. I have not had this experience at all. I take my dog – small dachshund – on Uber’s frequently, sometimes a few times a week now we moved out to Brooklyn. My dog in transported in an open pet carrier. The only time i had any hesitation from a driver was when I did not have the carrier. Sometimes the driver does not even realize there’s a dog in the car, but my Harry is very well behaved. Ditto forTaxis.

  4. The only dogs allowed on the subways are service dogs (and as you pointed out, that doesn’t include therapy or emotional support dogs). You must have proof that you are disabled, or that you are a professional trainer. Plus, all dogs must be harnessed or leashed. “…service animals, or to animals which are being trained as service animals and are accompanying persons with disabilities, or to animals which are being trained as service animals by a professional trainer. All service animals and animals being trained as service animals must be harnessed or leashed.” http://web.mta.info/nyct/rules/rules.htm

    1. here are the rules from the MTA site re: dogs… from my reading it says you can bring any animal on if it is in a container and does not bother other passengers… the way i read it, the EXCEPTION to that is what is described in paragraph 2 (service dogs, law enforcement dogs, etc.)

      Except as otherwise provided in paragraph (2) of this subdivision, 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.
      Paragraph (1) of this subdivision does not apply to working dogs for law enforcement agencies, to service animals, or to animals which are being trained as service animals and are accompanying persons with disabilities, or to animals which are being trained as service animals by a professional trainer. All service animals and animals being trained as service animals must be harnessed or leashed.
      Upon request by a police officer or designated employee of the Authority, a trainer must display proof of affiliation with a professional training school and that the animal is a licensed service animal or an animal being trained as a service animal. Upon request of a police officer or designated Authority personnel, a passenger must provide evidence that an animal claimed to be a service animal and thus exempt from the provisions of paragraph (1) of this subdivision qualifies as such or is being trained as a service animal. Such evidence may be supplied through: the display of a service animal license issued by the Department of Health of the City of New York or by other governmental agencies in New York or elsewhere authorized to issue such licenses, the display of an identification from a professional training school that the animal is a trained service animal, the presence of a harness or a marking on a harness, or the credible verbal assurances of the person with a disability using the service animal or animal being trained as such. For purposes of this paragraph, credible verbal assurances may include a description of one or more tasks that the animal performs or is being trained to perform for the benefit of the person with a disability.
      As an alternative to any of the methods described in paragraph (3) of this subdivision for providing evidence that an animal meets the definition of service animal, persons with disabilities who use service animals who do not have a service animal license or other written documentation that the accompanying animal is a service animal may apply to the Metropolitan Transportation Authority for a service animal identification card.
      Law enforcement officers or designated Authority personnel have the right to refuse admission to or eject any passenger accompanied by an animal, including a service animal, which poses a direct threat to the safety of other passengers.

    2. It’s a public health issue. People who are allergic to pets have no way of knowing that they are going to be exposed to animals that are not contained in a pet carrier in crowded subway cars. So think of your fellow New Yorkers before you try to bring your pet onto public transportation.

  5. Hi. I read your post on dog transportation, but am wondering if you have any recommendations on getting a +100lbs Bernese mountain dog from NYC to Denver? I’ve heard of United Pet Safe, but I’m not really sure about him flying and was looking for a service to drive him out west to meet us there. Would love to hear if you have any thoughts. Thanks.

    1. Hi Karl… Sorry, we’ve pretty much only researched transportation in and around New York City. I am afraid we don’t know anything about long distance travel. I am married to an ex-flight attendant whose opinion is that dogs flying poses certain risks. I looked at an old book called “Urban Hound” and it has a long list of “Tips On Flying With Hounds.” After reading those tips, I think I’d resort to shipping my dog by air only as a last resort. Unfortunately we don’t have any resources regarding long distance ground travel.

  6. United airlines has a pet hot line number that you can get from their main line. Pets do not travel with luggage and they are not medicated. I was told not to travel in winter months with pets

  7. I flew my 2 mastiffs from UK to Houston with United on the PetSafe Program. Dogs must be crated in IATA compliant crates and are on/offboarded the plane last and first. They are in a climate controlled part of the hold, same air as the cabin basically. Do not transport your dog in the summer months as the risk of over-heating whilst the plane is on the tarmac is high, especially if the flight is delayed, your dog would be sitting in the heat on the tarmac with no a/c and most giant breeds don’t do well in the heat. Better to go in winter months. It is much safer for giants and any short nose breeds

    Also worth checking that on some domestic routes, the planes are too small in the hold area to carry giant crates, so call United and check first.

  8. Thanks for the info. My tiny chihuahua and I just moved from Taiwan and were apprehensive about nyc public transportation.

  9. I have lived my entire life in awe and mild envy of the East Coast public transportation infrastructure (I’m a Washington native –the state, not the city–). Sure, when I first learned of the NY Subway rule I was horrified, and I am so thoroughly heartened by the creative resistance I’ve seen photos of. But I have owned full sized dogs for a good chunk of my adult life now (read: Great Danes). When faced with any emergency the prospect of no personal vehicle is terrifying to my West Coast sensibilities, but when my child(dog) is sick or injured?! These rules are positively debilitating in my mind. I can get my pup to sit on my lap, but he’s got legs for days and a ridiculous giraffe neck. There would be nothing subtle about all 152 pounds of him hanging his gangly legs out in the aisle. I can appreciate the purpose and intent of the law, but every argument my honey ever had to lure me to your coast has been completely overshadowed by these regulations and the near mandatory necessity of public transportation in major metropolitan areas. 🙁

  10. Hi Sean-

    I’m thinking of moving to the city – my dog is a 12 yr old rescue (likely a lab/doberman mix). She’s not used to city life (she grew up in DC but we only lived in garden-style apartments) and I’m worried about finding an apartment that will take her (she’s 50 lbs and part doberman). I’m also worried about getting rid of my car since it sounds like it would be tough to transport her around (she hates the car so she won’t easily get into a taxi and too heavy for me to carry her in a crate). Do you have any advice/thoughts on where to live? I would be working on the UWS, although I’m not even sure I would take the job because I’m so concerned about her.

    Thank you!

    1. Nicole, I would recommend you look on the upper west side close to your work. Larger dogs are hard to find apartments for but in my experience as a Pet taxi company (K9 cars inc.) I see a lot more buildings on the west side that are friendlier to large dogs. The other plus is that you want to be close to your home so that there is less of an issue with needing to transport across town.

  11. Very informative article and a good read. As a Pet Taxi owner (K9 cars Inc) I appreciate it when people get informed because it leads to awareness that there are a lot of options for those willing to do a little planning ahead. I always tell my clients about the options especially when I see they are on a limited budget. Good job !!

  12. Great Site! I work with In Our Hands Rescue our hands in NY and it’s been a challenge getter our harder breeds around the city. I can now give accurate answers to questions presented. Thanks

  13. As far as dogs on the NYC subway goes… what is displayed in photos is completely illegal. The fact that the people in the photos are ignoring the law doesn’t somehow make it legal. Law Enforcement officers and judges both use the “reasonable” standard to interpret law. These large dogs cannot be reasonably “lap dogs” and thus it is illegal. You can get a fine. You will not win it in court on what you think is a technicality, because to a judge it isn’t.

    I wish the case wasn’t so, but it is.

  14. As per http://www.mta.info:

    Except as otherwise provided in paragraph (2) of this subdivision, 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.
    Paragraph (1) of this subdivision does not apply to working dogs for law enforcement agencies, to service animals, or to animals which are being trained as service animals and are accompanying persons with disabilities, or to animals which are being trained as service animals by a professional trainer. All service animals and animals being trained as service animals must be harnessed or leashed.
    Upon request by a police officer or designated employee of the Authority, a trainer must display proof of affiliation with a professional training school and that the animal is a licensed service animal or an animal being trained as a service animal. Upon request of a police officer or designated Authority personnel, a passenger must provide evidence that an animal claimed to be a service animal and thus exempt from the provisions of paragraph (1) of this subdivision qualifies as such or is being trained as a service animal. Such evidence may be supplied through: the display of a service animal license issued by the Department of Health of the City of New York or by other governmental agencies in New York or elsewhere authorized to issue such licenses, the display of an identification from a professional training school that the animal is a trained service animal, the presence of a harness or a marking on a harness, or the credible verbal assurances of the person with a disability using the service animal or animal being trained as such. For purposes of this paragraph, credible verbal assurances may include a description of one or more tasks that the animal performs or is being trained to perform for the benefit of the person with a disability.
    As an alternative to any of the methods described in paragraph (3) of this subdivision for providing evidence that an animal meets the definition of service animal, persons with disabilities who use service animals who do not have a service animal license or other written documentation that the accompanying animal is a service animal may apply to the Metropolitan Transportation Authority for a service animal identification card.
    Law enforcement officers or designated Authority personnel have the right to refuse admission to or eject any passenger accompanied by an animal, including a service animal, which poses a direct threat to the safety of other passengers.

  15. Hi Sean… I want to take my very well-behaved 80 lb Boxer Mix to Buffalo this summer. I didn’t see a way to do so. Might there be an alternative we haven’t considered?

  16. Hi, Sean,

    Thanks for the post. Could you give us the reference to the Metro North rules about dogs? Where did you find that information? I’ve been taking the Metro North with my dog for over a year without problems but the other day a conductor told me that only service dogs or small, lap dogs were allowed on the train. I’ve tried searching online for the rules but came out empty. It would be nice to be able to refer to them next time a conductor has conflicting information.

    Thanks!

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