Why do pets need wheels? From regular visits to the vet to spoiling your furry friend with a much-needed day out — If you don’t have a private vehicle, traveling with pets is quite challenging. That’s where pet taxis offer a helping hand.
These taxis are not ordinary passenger cars – cars and vans have been modified to give ample leg space, enough to accommodate the large breeds. The charges are based on the number of hours travelled or the distance measured per kilometre, depending on the customer’s preference. The services cover both inner city and inter-state travel. They also offer to ferry unaccompanied pets if the ‘parents’ are busy.
Gurgaon resident Manika Saxena recalls how she couldn’t book a single cab when she had to take her pet dog Naina to the vet clinic. “I didn’t have any vehicle to commute. And app-based services didn’t welcome pets. Other public transport alternatives, like auto-rickshaws, also denied service. I was so distressed,” she says.
Then, one of Saxena’s friends suggested she call Furry Taxi which was started by the Tripathi Brothers in 2018 in Noida. “I called Anurag Tripathi and he drove us to the place. It was very comfy for both of us. This was the first time Naina, my golden retriever, was traveling with a stranger in the car. Tripathi ji made us comfy, and our trip to the vet was smooth.”
Subsequently, she started calling him “without a second thought. Be it early in the morning, or late in the evening, Furry Taxi was always available. In case Anurag couldn’t come, he arranged something for us. I knew I could leave Naina alone in the cab with him, and she would not panic. His love for pets is quite evident,” Saxena shares.
Noida-based Ritu Kapuria often uses Furry Taxi. She says, “It was around a year and a half back, I had to get my pet back from a pet resort in Chattarpur farms. I requested Asha – owner of the pet resort – to help me in getting him home as I was not able to go. She suggested Furry Taxi to me. Since then, we have been using the service to ferry our pet.”
Anurag Tripathi, the brain behind Furry Taxi, explains that he has been rescuing pets since 2009. While doing so, he observed that pet parents face problems in transportation — not only in cases of emergency but otherwise as well.
“Initially, I started helping on my own with my car. Gradually, I realised that we need pet taxis because cab services are not catering to the needs of pet parents, and people with their own vehicle want to avoid the maintenance cost plus save time”, he says.
Atul Kumar, a resident of Vasant Kunj, describes his experience with Furry Taxi as perfect. “They pick up on time, they click pictures on the way to show that our furry baby is doing fine”, he elaborates.
Pet taxis are designed to accommodate pets without any stress of getting the vehicle dirty. “The interiors of our taxis are covered in plastic and cushioned with blankets and towels so that the pet is transported safely. While smaller cats or dogs are put in their kennel, in case of big ones, we make sure their seatbelts are fastened and their leashes tied,” says Kaveri Rana Bhardwaj, who runs Best Pet Cab service in Greater Noida, which covers all of Delhi-NCR.
Cleanliness is one of the top priorities for those who run the pet taxis as chances of tick fever, hair shedding or foul smell are occupational hazards. “After each trip, we disinfect the taxi. We also sanitise the taxi as we don’t want our passengers to catch any infection,” explains Virat Tripathi.
This service is no longer the only one for pets. Life threw Amarjeet Singh a curveball when his taxi service had been severely affected as a result of the pandemic. While speaking to Patriot, Singh stated that he started his very own taxi services for pets recently.
The service is called Pet Taxi and according to Singh, has started building business gradually. “Some days, I can take up to four dogs a day,” he says. His taxi services also include picking up and sending dogs for grooming sessions, consultation with veterinarians, and emergency services. While Singh’s working hours are until 5 pm, his work usually stretches beyond that.
“It all started for me when my son brought home a labrador. We called him Snooby. Over the years, we took great care of him. The last three to four years of his life, he was always with me at the taxi stand”, Singh recalled fondly.
He added that while the pet taxi initiative started only a month ago, he has chauffeured people with their pets earlier as well. “I have never said no to a customer who wanted to take their pet/s along. I am proud to be a source of help for them. With the support of people, I hope the initiative will eventually grow”, he says.
Happy Pettings is a Gurugram-based pet boarding service. They also have a pet taxi service, titled Taxi for Pets, that offers inter-state service. They are also the first to launch a brand new car designed specifically for pets. Vipul Agrahari, owner of the service, shares, “The car is customised to travel with the pets for more than 1,000 km a day, ensuring the pet gets all the comfort. It is also the only ever pet-friendly car which has traveled to the world’s second highest motorable road pass with the dogs.”
Agrahari adds that they have completed long routes like Gurgaon to Goa and Gurgaon to Bihar, and will soon be traveling from Gurgaon to Pune. “Not every pet is comfortable to be in a flight’s luggage cargo or to travel in a first coupe in railways. They are not able to hold their bio breaks for more than six hours, which is a major issue when traveling by train. With Taxi for Pets, we can stop and let them stretch their muscles. Instead of calling it travel, we call it a vacation or a journey to remember and cherish”, he says.
Pet parents sometimes use auto-rickshaws to ferry their pets, even though it might not be the most comfortable option. Mehak Sethi, a resident of Saket, says she is always worried that her pet might get anxious and jump off the auto.
“Before pet taxis, I would rely on auto-rickshaws to travel with my pet dog Bruno. The auto drivers would get really scared because Bruno is a huge Boerboel, and I would also worry for his safety as he would jump off the auto,” she says, adding that auto drivers also charge extra to carry pets.
Paschim Vihar resident Kritika Sharma agrees with Sethi, and says, “I feel paranoid about losing my pet dog whenever I have to commute using public transport. They don’t care about how our pet is doing on the way. Moreover, I can’t rely on the driver in case I am unable to accompany my pet. Not everyone is an animal lover, and therefore, pet taxis are a boon for us. They treat them with love and care.”
Maneka Gandhi, Chairperson of the People for Animals organization, applauds the service. She adds, “There are also animal ambulances for street animals. However, there are challenges on the way. It should be regularly monitored.”
According to Bhoomika Chauhan, animal rescuer and activist, taxis do make travel convenient, since Uber and Ola do not allow dogs. “But mostly, it’s a business, and like all other businesses, people are in it to make profit. Sometimes we pay Rs 2,000 taxi charges for a vet visit that may cost just Rs 500. It definitely needs a more organized way to be executed”, she says.
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