Skip to Content
Going Places

Two Conflicted Dog Owners Discuss Whether to Let the Subway Run Over a Dog

Is saving one innocent dog's life worth all of this trouble to innocent commuters?

A row of gorgeous golden retriever puppies, against the background of a moving subway train.

(Unsplash / ronnyrondonph and Bharathi Kannan)

When news broke on Thursday that a dog was on the loose on the 4/5/6 line, causing those trains to be temporarily stopped as authorities scrambled to save it from all but certain death, the dog owners of Hell Gate—Esther Wang and Max Rivlin-Nadler—were filled with conflicting emotions. Is saving one dog's life worth all of this trouble to innocent commuters?

Some people might say, duh, of course, what is wrong with you people, god seriously WTF. Well, a lot of people confuse sentiment for ethics, but Hell Gate is here to grapple with the tough questions, and the harsh truths they often lead to. In that spirit, Max and Esther asked themselves, WWJ(eremy Bentham)D? 

Update: The dog was saved. 

Esther: Wow, how do we feel about this. Did the MTA do the right thing? Peter Singer, help!

Max: I mean, nightmare. 

If four dachshund puppies were on the A express track between 125th and 59th at rush hour, and making all A trains go local would cause hundreds of commuters to be late, leading to thousands of hours of missed productivity, ultimately setting back a cure for cancer by months...would you still make the train run local?

Esther: Maybe the MTA should not stop the trains for a dog. What if someone is on the way to a really important job interview, or is going to the hospital to say goodbye to their mom who's on the brink of dying? Don't tell Frankie I said any of this, btw. 

Max: Esther, you would love former MTA chief Joe Lhota.

Esther: He has a point! If we stop the trains for kittens and dogs, where do we draw the line? Why not stop the trains for rats, who are also living creatures worthy of our respect? 

Max: When my own dog broke loose and fearlessly dashed through city streets, it was harrowing and damaging to my heart and bad enough, but for the dog to go into a train tunnel?? Not to be dramatic, but like, I'd just dive for the third rail, no way to live with oneself after that. 

Esther: So are you a "no" on stopping the trains to save a dog? 

Max: I think I'm a "yes," but like, to a degree. Fifteen minutes at most—after that, the dog belongs to the mole people. If I see their scruffy head years later, rising from beneath a sewer cover, leading the revolution of the "subterraneans," then yes, I'll know I'm on their shit list. 

Esther: "Underdogs" was right there, Max!

On one hand, dog owners are extremely annoying (I should know as I am one) and I perpetually feel bad that people do terrible shit like bring their dogs into grocery stores and onto the train and inconvenience other people all the time. So if your dog gets loose and runs into a subway station and onto the tracks, and the alternatives are to either let it fight for survival on its own or force thousands of people to sit in hot subway cars with no AC for an entire hour

Max: It's a question of where you draw the line, right? It's not like police would close a highway if there was a dog loose…

But maybe public transportation is just a friendlier, better world, where everyone has a story to tell—"there was a dog on the tracks!"—and that's the world we should live in. So I guess I take the harm reduction standpoint—we've been pretty clear over at Hell Gate HQ that dogs don't really belong in NYC, but here they are. The least we can do is abide by some simple rules, including having them in a vice-like grip on the subway (and in a bag!) and keeping them out of grocery stores (gross!).

Esther: A fifteen-minute period to save the dog is something I can get down with. That and you have to get a chest tattoo that reads "Congestion pricing rules."

Max: Actually, I now think we should have let the dog die. 

Already a user?Log in

Thanks for reading!

Give us your email address to keep reading two more articles for free

See all subscription options

Stay in touch

Sign up for our free newsletter

More from Hell Gate

As Lawmakers Gut Tenant Protections, Tenant Advocates Turn to Fighting to Defeat the Budget

A bad deal for tenants shows that they didn’t really have all that much leverage to begin with.

April 15, 2024

Hell Gate’s Tote-ally Spring Sale

Spring has sprung, flowers are blooming, and allergies are at an all-time high. It's time to get your new wardrobe and new ACCESSORIES together. We're here to help.

April 15, 2024

Hell Gate Supports Good Cause Eviction With These Important Exceptions

Not everyone needs to be protected from exorbitant rent hikes and eviction, according to our sage lawmakers.

April 15, 2024
See all posts