Why are these dogs in bags?


People in the New York subways utilize similar strategies as seen in this picture. Credit: Dex Ezekiel on Unsplash

Kalel Betron, Staff Writer

New York, New York–the ever famous metropolis of America. A big part of New York City’s identity is its subway system. With millions of people using the subway every day, it’s natural that there are rules and systems in place to keep everyone safe. But a peculiar rule has been a topic of discussion among those who travel with their pets. New York City subways have banned bringing pets onto the train, unless the pet can fit into a bag.

At first glance it makes sense; if you can fit your little furry friend into your backpack you can go ahead and travel around the city. However, people started to get creative with this rule and have, by utilizing Ikea bags and duffel bags, been bringing larger dogs onto the train.

The big question is why? Why implement this specific rule? Why go through the hassle of smuggling your pet onto the subway? And why are the pictures of these large (mostly) dogs so cute?

Let’s start with the ruling. Why did New York’s Metropolitan Transportation Authority (MTA for short) implement this rule? The MTA implemented this policy back in 2019; however the dog pics have been making a wave on social media in 2021 and recently in 2023. Ben Yakas, a writer for Gothamist, a news site centered around New York, quoted from MTA Chairman and CEO Pat Foye regarding the animals stating, “We want you to enjoy the subway, we don’t control access person by person… dogs for example should be carried in a small basket… if you’re carrying so much stuff that you can’t manage it, you’re creating a blockage, you’re creating a fire hazard, a safety and security hazard.” The implementation of the bagged dogs policy is to promote safety and ease of access for passengers on the subway.

The MTA expected pet owners with small dogs to be able to comfortably commute with their furry friend around New York; but many New Yorkers have tried to get around the rule of being able to bring small pets onto the train. The utilization of Ikea bags with leg holes and other such bags have exploded in popularity, all for the purpose of bringing their dogs around New York. But why? What’s the purpose of it all? Simply put: people just love their dogs and want to spend time with them around the city. 

The subway is not the only form of transportation in New York. While the subway is the most utilized form of transportation, New York has many different train systems, such as Amtrak. These trains do not travel as frequently as the subway, but travel farther distances. The Amtrak has also recently implemented a rule on bringing dogs on their trains, without the need for a bag. Instead, they allow riders to carry a carrier up to twenty pounds.

Steve Eder of the New York Times wrote about his experience with his dogs on the train, stating, “Traveling with dogs always makes our adventures more fun, even if it is a bit of a hassle. And it turns out we are hardly alone: Many other people love to bring their pets on vacation, too.”  

Overall, it’s a necessary rule implemented for the safety of not only the people, but for the dogs, as well. An added benefit to it all are these adorable photos.

If you would like to view these photos, click this link to check some of them out.