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Woof! Taxi! : A primer on pet transportation services

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Pet transportation services make it easier to get around when you don't have a car. When Laura first moved to Brooklyn from Los Angeles six years ago, she had four cats and two dogs. What she didn't have was a car.

Laura worried about what she might do in an emergency, but happier circumstances prompted her to research pet taxi services in New York City. A friend wanted to adopt one of her dogs, a Wheaton terrier named Elliot. The problem? Her friend lived in Manhattan and didn't have access to transportation either. They wondered how they would move Elliot (along with his bed, crate and toys) from point A to point B.

"Car services are not crazy about transporting dogs and the subway was a no-go, so I needed to find another way,'' remembers Laura. Eventually, after some online searching, she chose Pet Chauffer.

A growing industry

Pet transportation services -- a growing segment of the pet industry -- are now available in many cities (New York, Chicago, San Francisco, Los Angeles and many more) across the country. These companies offer your pooch trips to and from any given location, including the airport, dog trainer, dog groomer, doggie daycare, veterinary office, as well as emergency transport. (Companies such as Manhattan-based Pet Taxi advertise bringing stretchers, ramps, muzzles and cages as well as experienced staff to your doorstep in case of emergency. Prices run $150 and up.) Some pet transportation companies also offer relocation packages.

Often you'll find other one-stop-shop pet services offered, too, such as dog-walking, grooming, training, or doggie camp, along with the benefits of transport. This is especially useful for working professionals struggling to coordinate their schedule with the sometimes unpredictable needs of their dog.

On top of peace of mind, there are other benefits to pet transportation services. In fact, your golden retriever might be more comfortable in a pet transport taxi than in the cab you hail on a rainy day. Some pet transport companies equip their insulated vans with stuffed toys and even Astroturf. Not to mention that the driver doesn't bat an eyelid when a customer throws up or whines uncontrollably in the backseat.

Pricing

The bad news? Well, pricing can be steep.

A one-way ride uptown (or downtown) thirty blocks in New York City will run at least $30 plus gratuity. If you allow for waiting time, which many services recommend (given the unpredictable nature of veterinary schedules and/or medical emergencies), you'll need to factor in another $40 per hour of waiting time. On the other hand, a trip to local airports seems downright reasonable, running from $76 to $100, when you consider other car services.

In any case, for many pet owners without reliable transportation, the extra security and convenience offered by pet taxis is often well worth the cost.

Tips for using pet taxi services:

  • Do your homework, and plan carefully: The same traffic jam that made you late for work will delay your pet's trip to the veterinarian. Plan around busy morning and late afternoon rush hours.
  • If you are in a rush to get to work after a vet appointment, you might want to pay for the transportation service to wait for you and your dog.
  • Consider holiday travel congestion when making plans and travel arrangements. Call way ahead of time!
  • Don't forget to take weather conditions into account.
Credit: Reveiwed by Amy I. Attas, V.M.D.
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