Many people have decided to make rideshare companies like Uber & Lyft their primary mode of transportation. This sometimes leaves them with a difficult dilemma when it comes to taking their favorite pet along with them.
There are times like visits to the vet, trips to the dog park, or just for the company when you need to take your fur baby with you! What can you do?
Both Uber and Lyft leave the decision to take non-service animal pets to each individual driver. For this reason, it’s highly recommended that passengers call their drivers immediately after their ride request is accepted to inform the driver and make sure it’s OK to bring their pet.
This means some drivers may decline your request and ask you to cancel the ride and attempt to get another driver. Other drivers will be perfectly happy if you bring your furry friend with you.
If you find this off-putting, just ask yourself if you would take your dog to someone’s home without asking them first. The rideshare business is made up of drivers who use their own personal vehicle to carry passengers so it is very much the same concept as entering their home.
What About Service Animals?
All drivers are required to accept passengers with service animals. This is spelled out in the terms of service of the rideshare companies and is required by law.
The Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) states, “a service animal is any dog that is individually trained to do work or perform tasks for the benefit of an individual with a disability, including a physical, sensory, psychiatric, intellectual, or other mental disability.”
Any passenger who feels they have been denied service due to having a service animal should report the driver immediately to their rideshare company. This will result in the deactivation of the driver’s privilege.
What you can do to get your pet accepted
Make sure your pet is clean. Bring a towel or a small blanket in case your pet is shedding or maybe has dirty paws from playing outside.
In many cases, the driver will immediately be routed to pick up their next rider so they will not have time to check on how clean you left their vehicle. Be courteous to the passengers who come after you and your pet.
Bring a pet carrier if at all possible
If your dog or other pet is not well-behaved or used to being in a car you should consider using a pet carrier. Most drivers will not even think twice about taking a passenger who has their pet in a carrier. It’s the best way to ensure the pet behaves and will usually make the cleanliness and shedding a non-issue.
Tip well and leave good feedback
A little goodwill goes a long way! You can help the next person with a pet by tipping the driver well and leaving them 5-star feedback when your ride is over. It’s always a bit of a gamble when taking passengers with pets so great feedback will reinforce the experience and tipping well will add an exclamation point to the end of the story.
My personal experience (mixed) as a driver
When I started as an Uber & Lyft driver I searched driver forums and groups and found many complaints about this issue. There were quite a few drivers with horror stories about the “last time” they accepted a passenger with a pet.
I thought they were overstating the problem so I determined I would just have to find out for myself.
My first few experiences with passengers that had dogs with them went perfectly. I’m a dog lover myself so I thought it was awesome that I got to meet the passenger’s fur babies.
It started off great. I pulled up to pick up a nice young woman with her medium-sized dog. She immediately asked me if it was ok or if she needed to cancel and try for a different driver.
I have a hunch she had already been denied by another driver but I was new, and I was there so I thought why not, let’s do this!
My second mistake (the first was taking the dog with no blanket or towel covering my leather back seat) was letting the woman sit in the front seat while putting her dog in the back seat!
She assured me her dog was well-mannered and rode in cars all the time.
After the dog began pacing (all over my back seat) from one side of the car to the other, I began to have my doubts. The dog did stop long enough to lick my right ear several times and attempt to jump upfront with its owner but overall I had to conclude this dog was not used to traveling by car!
The lady was very nice and the trip was long and paid pretty well but overall it was a total loss for me. Once the trip ended I pulled over a couple of blocks away to see if the back seat needed attention.
There was smeared on mud and dog drool all over the backs of my front seats. The dog must have been in a full-on shed because the carpets and back seat was covered with dog hair and mud that I hadn’t seen on the dog when I picked the passenger up. My leather seat wasn’t ruined but it would need a deep cleaning with a leather conditioner before I could pick up another passenger.
Unfortunately, I was now a good 10 miles from the nearest car wash and a powerful vacuum cleaner. I had to take myself out of service for a good two hours to get my car back into passenger worthy status. Since I only drive part-time it literally meant I was done for the day!
To add insult to injury, the nice young lady didn’t feel a tip was in order. It was a very disappointing and difficult learning experience!
So do I still take (non-service animal) pets? Absolutely! But only when the passenger follows a few simple rules that ensure their pet will leave my car in a condition that respects my property and the right of the next passenger to receive clean comfortable service.
Additional thoughts for rideshare drivers
You may be wondering if you can make the decision to bring your own pet along with you. Both Lyft and Uber’s terms of service forbid drivers from bringing their pets with them when they drive.
This policy is in place out of respect for passengers. They may have allergies related to pets or could even have a phobia when it comes to animals or become concerned about the friendliness of your dog or other pet.
Will you allow your passengers to take pets when you drive? I hope your answer is a qualified yes. We need to provide the best possible service to our rider/passengers. Trying to remain flexible and finding ways to make the rideshare service work for passengers helps us all.
Having said that, we also need to ensure we maintain high standards of cleanliness of our vehicles and make sure that the next passenger won’t have to endure and uncomfortable rider experience due to the previous passenger having a pet and failing to clean up after it.