Uber Pet Is a 5-Star Idea
The industry-shattering rideshare company has rolled out its latest transformative concept — an option for pet owners.
Your pet wants you to read our newsletter. (Then give them a treat.)
It’s hard to overstate the fundamental shift in daily travel Uber has caused since launching just over a decade ago. The company transformed short distance travel, making it cheaper and more convenient before depleting the taxicab institution. Even here in New York City — essentially the taxi capital of the world — cabs feel like a relic of another time. Whenever I see a person on the street hailing a taxi, it inspires the same thought I have after witnessing someone use a flip phone or talk about the Detroit Lions — they still exist? To render an established practice nearly irrelevant takes serious foresight and understanding of problems many people long gave up hope of solving. Given that, Uber’s most recent problem-solving push is as unsurprising as it is exciting.
With Uber Pet, the company is hoping to minimize the amount of time your pet is home alone without resorting to elaborate tactics in hopes of sneaking them onto mass transit. The new feature allows passengers to bring their cat or dog along for rides. For those of us without cars, we finally have a means of bringing our favorite plus-ones wherever we go. This is especially helpful for animals who may be sensitive to the noise and chaos of public transportation, as well as relieving for pet parents whose arms have felt the unique muscle soreness created from carrying around a 20-pound critter all day.
The service operates on the same Uber platform, all you have to do is click the Uber Pet drop-down and request a pet-friendly driver. This is not the first time pets have been allowed in cars, as the company has long had a laissez-faire attitude towards the topic — ultimately allowing passengers and drivers to sort the situation out among themselves. But now they’ve established a more organized method of connecting pro-animal drivers with pro-animals riders. Additionally, while recently launching in Europe, the company pledged to donate one euro from each Uber Pet fare to All Dogs Matter, a London-based dog rescue and rehoming charity.
Now, Debbie Downer here with some caveats. At the moment, Uber Pet is only allows one pet per ride. There is, of course, also a small fee for opting to take your pet on a trip. In usual Uber fashion, the fee is not explicitly stated and subject to change, as is the option for drivers to request a cleaning fee afterward. The company states any of the following can result in additional charges: if the pet leaves waste (fair), damages the car (totally fair), or leaves hair (absolutely guaranteed to happen). Fine, I’ll still pay extra to have my pup with me. However, this is the real red flag. According to Uber, “You may bring one small animal such as a dog or a cat. Please note, there is no breed or size restriction and any additional pets you bring are within the individual driver partner’s discretion.”
The somewhat nondescript language has me more than a little worried that I’d order a car, they’d pull up, see my Pit Bull, and drive away faster than the company can say “We’re still charging you.” So if you have a cute small dog or cat, Uber Pets should be a perfect means of travel. For the rest of us, it’s more of an encouraging coin flip.
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Sean Zucker is a writer whose work has been featured in Points In Case, The Daily Drunk, Posty, and WellWell. He has an adopted Pit Bull named Banshee whose work has been featured on the kitchen floor and whose behavioral issues rival his own.