Tough NYC Has A Soft Side For Pets

By: Elizabeth Roi

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Many years ago I had an old college friend come visit me at my Upper West Side apartment from rural Michigan for a couple of weeks. It was fun to see New York from the eyes of a stranger; confusing her when I said soda instead of pop or being laughed at when I pulled on my full winter coat and mittens with only 40 degrees outside. But I think what surprised me the most was her shock at seeing so many happy dogs in the street and how NYC actually had a large pet community. She said until her visit she couldn’t see how a concrete jungle would have space for dogs.

Fast forward to my life in the present; having been the fur mom of a 90 lb lab and a 15 lb Yorkie mix in the city since that visit. As well as running a small side gig taking care of pets and that memory makes me smile.

There is absolutely no difference between loving a pet in the city and in suburbia. Yes, there need to be some interesting or creative adaptations and perhaps one or two things to Google when you first decide to own a pet in the big apple, but just like anywhere else: Big animal lovers abound.

Dog Inside home

The First Thing to Consider is Perhaps the Most Important:

How Pet Friendly is My Building?

Is it goldfish pet friendly or are they partial to cats (cats win over dogs in the landlord’s eyes because they tend to be quieter) or if dog friendly certified (and you’d be surprised how much more and more landlords are okay with you cuddling with Lassie at night)?

What Types of Dogs are they Ok With?

Or have you landed in the unicorn of apartments where they allow chickens and bees as pets (but NEVER ferrets; any pet ferrets are allowed EVER in NYC by law).

Then of course are there parks nearby to exercise if it’s a dog or any added fees because of said pet? Sometimes there’s no fee, especially if you own your own place. Sometimes there’s a pet down payment based on the animal’s size and other times they ask for you to set up pet insurance (especially for dogs because of potential elevator dramas). But all in all, they are not asking for anything unreasonable and are more than happy to let you enjoy your pet unless you’re the Tiger King; his pets are only allowed in the Bronx Zoo.

Cute Dog
Once you know what your building’s boundaries are then decide if you are adopting or buying from a breeder (please please adopt!) and what breed/type of pet will work for you and your lifestyle. (But hey, if you are stuck in wanting something in particular or already have your pet when you get to the city. Then look for the building that fits you instead of the other way around).

This is where Google will come in handy because you would be surprised how different the needs may be between pets. And not always the way you think. My 90lb old lab was very happy in a small one bedroom and required half the work my hyperactive 15lb Yorkie does, but I had to spend twice on food and the shedding was a pain.

A cat may work better if you are too many hours outside of your home or can’t budget for dog walking services if taking him out for strolls is too much after a long workday. If you want something fluffy and low maintenance but have cat allergies uber-cute chinchillas and hamsters are on the approved city pet list, but did I mention NEVER ever a ferret? And of course, there’s always that goldfish.

Happy Dog
Last but Most Certainly Not Least:

  • Can you make your pet’s life a happy one?
  • It may seem like a weird thing to consider but will you be willing to take them out for walks in the rain?
  • Give them affection not just when you want but when they want to.
  • Buy them toys and properly nutritious food and treats.
  • Have a friend or sitter available for when you go off on trips or adventures?
  • Pay a groomer or learn to groom them yourself so they are comfortable?


Because if you can make them happy, I assure you they are quite worth it. The difference in joy and love in your life between having and not having a pet can only be pointed out by those that already have one. Oh, and name him Ferret for kicks because all eyes will turn to you in the park when you yell his name!

Are there any Pet-Friendly Events or Activities in New York City?

Yes, throughout the year, numerous pet-friendly events and activities are held in New York City. Adoption events, charity walks, pet parades, costume contests, and more are examples of these.

Are there any Specific Dog Parks in New York City?

Yes, New York City has numerous dog parks where dogs can play and socialize off-leash. Some popular dog parks include Central Park’s Dog Run, Washington Square Park Dog Run, Tompkins Square Park Dog Run, Prospect Park Dog Beach, and many more.

Can I bring my Pet to Restaurants and Cafes in New York City?

Yes, many restaurants and cafes in New York City have outdoor seating areas where pets are allowed.

Are there any Pet-Friendly Accommodations in New York City?

Yes, there are numerous pet-friendly hotels and accommodations in New York City. These establishments understand the importance of including pets as part of the family and offer amenities such as pet beds, food bowls, and sometimes even pet-sitting or dog-walking services.

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