Good news for New Yorkers and their furry best friends: pets are now allowed on any New York public transportation when evacuating during a state of emergency.
Gov. Andrew Cuomo signed the change into law this week. He noted how many pet owners refused to evacuate during Superstorm Sandy flooding because they could not bring their dogs and cats on New York public transportation.
“For many New Yorkers, their pets are members of their families, and no one should be forced to abandon them in the event of an evacuation,” Cuomo said in a statement. “I’m proud to sign this commonsense, humane legislation to bring comfort to pet owners in times of distress.”
Prior to this law, New Yorkers were already allowed to bring their pets on MTA buses and the NYC subway in the event of a state of emergency evacuation, Senator Andrew Lanza noted.
But pets couldn’t come along on all New York public transportation during an emergency, like Port Authority Public Transportation. This update corrects that, allowing animals on public transit statewide during an evacuation.
“This law will ensure that all New Yorkers – both two- and four-legged – can escape to safety on all available means of public transportation, including those operated by the Port Authority of New York and New Jersey,” Assemblymember Linda B. Rosenthal said in a statement.
New York public transportation and pets: a tense history
Under the new law, restrictions on pets on New York public transportation are only lifted during a state of emergency. Dogs and cats are still barred from public transit otherwise, which has caused some tension between straphangers and the city.
On the NYC subway, animals must be in a carrier or bag while on the train, and New Yorkers have a tendency to push that rule pretty far.
In July, the MTA responded to a Tweet of a dog (not inside a bag or carrier) on a train and asked NYC subway riders report such incidents to 911. That response sparked some backlash from New Yorkers who don’t seem to mind having a furry companion on their commute.