"You can't take dogs on cabs or subways, unless you pretend you're a blind person," pet taxi service owner Larry Reilly told the New York Times [source: Lee].
He may be stretching the point a bit -- small pups, with their heads peeking out of handbags, and animals in carriers can usually get a ride. But Reilly's quip does point to a serious issue. According to New York's Taxi and Limousine Commission, taxi drivers are required to admit guide dogs but are entitled to refuse service to other animals.
It's not hard to figure out why cabbies would turn down prospective passengers with leashed pets: bad smells, shedding or even a dreaded accident -- and not the kind involving another car.
On the other hand, there are all kinds of situations in which people might need to hop in a cab with their pet, such as vet or grooming appointments, rides to or from the kennel or a trip out to the family's weekend house. And urban professionals without cars may need to bring their pets to a doggy day care facility that's too far away for a walk.
Pet taxi services have sprung up to meet this demand. Reilly started Pet Taxi in New York in 1995. Competitors quickly followed, and the idea has spread to cities around the country.
Pet taxis are climate-controlled vehicles usually equipped with crates, water dishes and safety devices for animals. Many also serve as pet ambulances, with stretchers and ramps for animals with special needs. Some taxi services also offer pet boarding, grooming, walking and day care.
Pets may ride with or without the accompaniment of their human companions. Pet Chauffeur of New York advertises that it can schedule regular visits to escort a pet to the vet or the groomer, so its owner need not take time off work.
These rides tend to cost significantly more than a regular hired car. Pet Chauffeur charges more than $100 to deliver up to two pets and their owners from Manhattan to New York's Kennedy Airport, and $180 for an airport pickup without the owner [Source: Pet Chauffeur].