Top 5 things to know about pet taxi services

There’s no doubt about it, pets are part of the family – a fact emphasised more than ever after the priceless love, devotion and companionship they provided during those difficult lockdown months. And as we return to the office, we’re reminded that pets also give the best greeting you could ever hope for as you walk through the door after a long day.

It’s been difficult that, for years, only assistance animals such as guide dogs were permitted to travel in taxis, public transport or even rideshare options. Now however, there a number of possibilities for transporting just about any pet via vehicle in a safe and reliable manner. The rules differ by provider, and also location, as different states and territories will have their own set of regulations. 

What are pet taxi services?

Pet taxi services are a great way of getting your best friend from point A to point B. There are essentially two forms of pet taxi service: accompanied and unaccompanied.

Accompanied services, such as Uber Pet, are for when you want to take your domesticated animal on a trip with you.

Unaccompanied services, such as PetCloud's Pet Taxi, are pets-only services, where the driver takes your pet to an appointment – such as the vet or a sitter’s house – and then brings them home afterwards if required, without the owner having to come along for the ride. This can be a great option for those with busy schedules.

How much does it cost to transport a pet?

Obviously, costs vary depending on the distance travelled, the time of day and how busy the service is at the given time.

Generally speaking, accompanied pet services are only slightly more costly than the standard fare for humans, with Uber Pet, for example, describing their fee as “a little extra” compared to a human-only trip. By comparison, an unaccompanied trip is the more expensive option, given the driver is also doubling as a carer for your pet.

It’s also worth noting that while inevitable clean-up costs are factored into the price – think fur or mud – virtually all services charge an extra fee if there is an unexpected accident on the upholstery or a sickness issue, with PetCloud charging $100 and Uber Pet’s charges being “assessed and charged according to the extent of damage”.

Pets and travel sickness

Much like humans, our furry family members can find riding in the car a nauseating experience – and, also like humans, there’s no telling which animals will love travel, and which will show you where the saying “sick as a dog” comes from. If you know that your animal is not a fan of travelling in a car, then try to reconsider your options in advance, and maybe have them travel with someone they know and trust, if possible.

Puppies and younger dogs are particularly susceptible to travel sickness, although they can grow out of it. But if your pet is not the best traveller there are a few tricks worth trying such as monitoring your pet’s food intake for a few hours before getting in the car, travelling with the windows down, and taking regular breaks on long trips to get some air, which might not always be possible when riding in a pet taxi – so factor this into your planning. If possible, aim to travel with them to reassure and comfort them.

Pet restraints

Laws vary in the various Australian states regarding pet restraints, but wherever you are, it is important for the safety of the pet and other passengers that an animal cannot distract the vehicle’s driver.

And a great way to ensure this happens – and, in fact, is a requirement for most pet taxi services – is by having your pet restrained.

There are a variety of pet restraints available, including travel crates, cargo harnesses to stop them from getting into the front seat and even pet booster-seats, but probably the easiest method for securing a pet in a car is a harness. Check your local state or territory’s government website for more information, as this varies. 

A harness is a simple strap-type device that connects your pet to a seatbelt, making it a quick, easy way of ensuring your precious cargo is safe and sound in the vehicle.

Can pets go on public transport?

While some states and territories continue to only allow service animals to ride public transport, a growing number of cities around Australia are allowing clean, restrained, friendly pets to ride along with their owner on public transport.

However, making multiple transport changes on a trip can be difficult, as there are different rules for different services, and this varies from state to state. For example, while Transport NSW will permit a pet to hop on a bus, ferry or light rail service (provided they are contained in a box or container and permission is given by the driver), they are not allowed on trains. The rules are quite different in Victoria, where dogs are allowed on metropolitan trains, provided they are wearing a leash and a muzzle and smaller animals provided they are in a suitable animal container.

The Northern Territory will only allow hearing or guide assisted dogs or buses, all other animals are prohibited on bus services. The same rules apply in Queensland for buses, trains and trams, South Australia and Western Australia which don’t allow any other pets other than assistance dogs.

What’s more, in most cases allowing a pet on board is up to staff discretion, which can make this a less-than-reliable method of getting around town with your furry, scaly or feathered friends.

Making sure your pet can be transported in safety and comfort matters because they are family – and, like any member of the family, you can help ensure they have the best possible care by taking out pet insurance today. Request a quote with Guardian Insurance or call 1300 709 560.