Will taxi firms follow Uber’s lead over pets?

Uber travelling pet

Taxi drivers often go out of their way to help passengers, such as carrying shopping to the front door for someone who is elderly or vulnerable.

Some are even happy to allow passengers to bring their dogs with them, especially if they are regulars.

While the law states that service animals such as guide dogs must be allowed to accompany their owners, it is up to individual drivers and taxi firms whether pets that are not service animals can be allowed in cabs.

Now Uber has launched a special service which allows passengers to bring their pets with them, and others are likely to follow its lead.

But it does not mean that every Uber driver should be prepared for their next fare to include a pet. Drivers have to notify the firm that they are willing to accept pets and then be put forward for bookings with a £2 Uber Pet surcharge (£3.20 in London) added to the cost of a normal journey – £1 of which will be donated to the All Dogs Matter charity.

The move by Uber means that customers can now be matched with drivers who are eligible and willing to transport people who are accompanied by their pets.

To make sure things so smoothly, the company is asking pet owners to be as specific as possible about their pet’s breed and size – especially when it comes to dogs – so its drivers can be sure to know whether their vehicle is big enough for both the animal and its owner.

To use the service, any animal classed as a domestic pet can be accepted in an Uber vehicle, and as well as dogs, drivers are being told to expect passengers with cats, bunnies or even a guinea pigs.

Whatever the animal, it remains the responsibility of the owner who must stay in the car with their pet for the entire journey.

And the firm has issued tips for drivers to help look after their cabs and make the trip an enjoyable one.

Uber told drivers: “If you think you’re going to be taking a lot of animals, there are plenty of things you can do to ensure you provide a dog-friendly Uber ride.

“The first thing to do is to get your car ready for an animal passenger. Using seat coverings, floor mats and window cover sheets ensure no marks or stains are left behind on the leather or paw and nose prints on the glass.”

Drivers are also encouraged to allocate space for travelling pets.

Uber said: “Selecting a specific seat or doggy area, complete with a mat and/or blanket can help make sure the rest of the car won’t be made messy. Remember, however, the owner of a service animal may need their canine companion to sit somewhere different to assist them.”

Whatever precautions drivers take, accidents do happen, especially with animals.

The firm suggests: “Consider stocking up on wipes, air fresheners and similar in case of lingering doggy whiffs, mucky paw marks – or worse. If your car requires professional cleaning, you should take photographs of the mess, keep the receipt from the cleaning and contact us.”

It also reminds drivers about the safety of all passengers, adding: “The Highway Code states that dogs or other animals must be suitably restrained so they cannot distract you while you are driving. Be sure either the rider or you have a suitable way of doing this before setting off, whether it’s seat belt harness, pet carrier, dog cage, dog guard or some other type of restraint.”

As the firm says, a lot of it is common sense: “Don’t let the passenger allow their animal to hang its head out of the window for example. But with some extra forward thinking and preparation, you, your passengers and, most importantly, their four-legged friends, can all easily enjoy a hassle-free trip.”

Andrew Brem, general manager at Uber UK, said: “We’re really happy to be launching Uber Pet in the UK, bringing even more convenient travel options to our riders.”