Editor's Note

Editor’s Note: Happy dogs offer an alternative to troops in the subways

Canine companions, in increasing numbers, deliver a calming effect for many riding the rails.

A straphanger’s dog enjoys a ride on the No. 1 train in the New York City subways on Nov. 16. 2023.

A straphanger’s dog enjoys a ride on the No. 1 train in the New York City subways on Nov. 16. 2023. Ralph R. Ortega

Gov. Kathy Hochul’s hawkish decision to send National Guard troops into the New York City subway system was not in response to a rise in crime, but to address the perception that riding the rails was unsafe. In explaining the move to Fox 5’s “Good Day New York,” the governor said she wasn’t going to talk about “statistics.” “I’m going to talk about feelings and emotions and the psychology of a city,” Hochul said. 

City & State’s Rebecca C. Lewis reported that despite a recent spike in violence on the subways, statistically, crime remains at historic lows. But a constant stream of news about grizzly attacks in the subways has people nervous, which is why the governor injected 750 members of the National Guard into the system. She has come under criticism for being too heavy-handed, and because the troops will assist in bag checks. Fortunately, there’s an alternative: allowing straphangers to travel with their dogs. They already are allowed to bring them, as long as they are carried in bags that prevent them from bothering other riders. Gothamist reported the rule has increasingly been ignored and apparently unenforced, although complaints are few.

I’ve ridden on many trains with people and their leashed dogs. Quite frankly, having the presence of a furry rider around does create positive vibes. Few can resist looking into those sad, sorrowful eyes, or enjoy the wagging of a tail. It’s time to officially let these canine commuters out their bags. The calming effects of a happy dog may just be the answer for a transit system that can seem more dangerous than it really is.