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City Smarts: Traveling with Pets…but without a Car

By Colleen Williams
published: September 8, 2017 - updated: April 22, 2022 • 2 min. read
dog on subway

Most city-slickers have their subway route down pat, or they know exactly when to leave the house to catch the bus. While popping outside for a quick walk to the dog park is a piece of cake, mobilizing pets – especially during an emergency – is not so easy for urban individuals who do not own cars. Here’s how to get around it.

  • Most ride-sharing services allow pets. When you’ve requested an Uber or Lyft, call your driver after confirmation to make sure they are comfortable with having a pet in their vehicle. Remember to bring the essentials: carrier, paper towels, and even baby wipes just in case.
  • If you need to use public transportation services like a bus or train, check online first to confirm their pet policy. So, for example, Chicago’s CTA, New York’s MTA and the San Francisco BART allow only small pups in bags or carriers, while Seattle’s bus regulations are more relaxed according to Rover: “Seats are for humans only—dogs are on your lap or on the floor next to you.”
  • Speaking of seats, when you get on the bus or train, make sure your dog is out of the way, either under your seat or off to the side. If your pet is in a carrier, they cannot take up a seat or obstruct the pathway either. Also, your pet should be welcomed – if those around you are not okay with your pet, be considerate and move to a less populated area (if at all possible) of the bus or train.
  • If you need a vehicle on the spot and have a driver’s license, companies like Zipcar or car2go offer by-the-hour car rentals. Check with your preferred provider, as many allow pets but they’re required to ride in carriers (see Zipcar’s policy).
  • For sudden emergencies, transportation is available in select areas, for example New Jersey and Pennsylvania are serviced by, a legitimate pet ambulance. There’s even a “pet taxi” which promises to drive or fly your pet among a myriad of other services via PetPros, a nationwide service. If all else fails, you can try a local “Man with a Van” listing or even TaskRabbit. In rare and serious cases, a pet may require oxygen assistance en route to a veterinary hospital; so veterinary-assisted pet ambulance charges would be covered by pet insurance. Additionally, don’t forget that many metropolitan areas have Mobile Vet clinics. Much like a doctor’s “house call,” a licensed vet or vet tech will come to your home to perform diagnostic tests and administer treatments for whatever ails your pet.

Remember – service dogs are allowed everywhere including planes, trains and automobiles by law. This might not always extend to emotional or therapy support dogs, so double-check with company representatives.

colleen williams
By Colleen Williams

Over the past decade, Colleen has written about health, wellness, beauty, and even pets for The New York Times, The Cut, Refinery29, xoVain, Healthy Paws Pet Insurance, and Seattle Met Magazine, as well as many beauty brands. She has a BFA in Art History from the University of New Mexico and an AAS in Fashion Design from Parsons School of Design in New York.

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