Uber is making it easier to bring pets along for the ride
Getting around a city with pets can be tricky, especially a large dog or two. Here in NYC, most people don’t own cars, especially in the inner boroughs. That often means calling a cab when you need to go to the vet or on a trip across town.
Problem is, many drivers don’t want animals in their cars, whether for cleanliness or allergies. Now it seems Uber wants to make traveling with your fur baby easier for a few extra bucks. The company is testing a feature called Uber Pet that lets you hail a fur-friendly driver right from the app for an extra $3 to $5.
Currently, Uber wants you to call a driver beforehand to ask if you can bring a pet along, something you can only do after requesting a ride. For riders in hurry, that could waste precious time, as many drivers will cancel when they hear you want to bring a dog for a ride, forcing you to request another cab with no guarantee it will be pet-friendly either. If your pet is in the midst of a veterinary emergency, being denied is frustrating and scary.
On the other hand, if you don’t call beforehand, drivers can be surprised by an unexpected pet they might not be prepared to deal with – or can’t transport due to allergies. Uber Pet theoretically makes things a less stressful experience on both ends.
Drivers who don’t want to deal with pets can opt out of the feature. But the prospect of making extra cash might compel some who might’ve previously rejected pets to consider allowing them on the ride. The fee would also help cover cleaning expenses for pets with a tendency to shed.
That said, it’s worth noting that, in accordance with federal laws, Uber drivers can’t deny or charge a fee for service animals. And before requesting an Uber and relying on chance to find a pet-friendly driver, you should consider calling a local cab service; a dispatcher can easily assign you a pet-friendly driver.
Uber Pet is rolling out in Austin, Denver, Nashville, Minneapolis-St. Paul, Philadelphia, Phoenix, and Tampa Bay starting October 16. It’s still in testing, so no word on when it may arrive in other regions.