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Death on Subway Tracks Rouses Rider Ire

March 14, 1991

NEW YORK (AP) _ Riders of a rush-hour subway train say the motorman callously ran over a dog that was holding up service, but the Transit Authority maintains it did its best trying to save the stray.

The dog, which was later put to death because of the severity of its injuries, had eluded searchers in the subway tunnels for more than four hours Wednesday.

Nearly 100 people had called to complain that the dog was killed on purpose, said Herman Cohen, executive vice president of the American Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals.

″The basic story everyone is saying is the motorman sped up and he hit the dog,″ Cohen said Thursday. ″They heard him hit the dog.″

Cohen conceded that the ASPCA didn’t have a complainant who actually saw or heard enough to justify a misdemeanor charge against any subway employee.

The transit agency said the motorman was operating normally and hit the brakes when the dog appeared in front of him.

″He was directed that the dog was no longer spotted on the roadbed and he was to resume normal service, which is what he did,″ said Caren Gardner, speaking for the agency. ″He spotted the dog as it was darting. He put the train in emergency, he tried to stop it. Trains don’t stop on a dime.″

The agency issued a chronology showing more than four hours of trying to catch the dog in the tunnel system under Manhattan’s upper West Side at the expense of passenger convenience.

″We delayed 63 trains, interrupted 75,000 passengers,″ said Gardner.

″During that time we discharged four trains, meaning we took four trains that had passengers, discharged them at stations and used those trains as taxi trains to slowly go back and forth, with transit police, up and down the track to see if we could see the dog.″

″We did everything we possibly could do to catch the dog. We had transit police, emergency police, two supervisors on the track bed. They walked five miles of track looking for that dog,″ Gardner said.

Riders describing the incident to the New York Post said their train stopped in a station while a sighting of the dog was checked. After about 20 minutes, two transit officers returned and whispered something to the motorman, the Post quoted passenger Katherine Acuna as saying.

″Then he just closed the doors and sped up,″ Acuna said. ″Soon after, we heard this awful scream.″

Rider Laura Slavin said: ″He was chasing it down. ... The train sped up and we heard the most horrible bloodcurdling sounds ... This was the height of stupidity and cruelty.″

The transit agency said the dog wasn’t hit by the train they were on.

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