Ridesharing companies like Uber and Lyft filled a transportation void many of us didn’t know existed—even for those of us who live in places with reliable public transportation and widespread taxi service. And even our furry (and not-so-furry) friends are getting in on the ridesharing game. Below, a how-to guide for ridesharing with your beloved pet.
Drivers are required by law to transport service animals. The animal must be a service companion, but no proof of documentation is needed when traveling with the animal (all owners must do is state that the animal is a service animal). Honor code rules apply, though (we imagine some of the worst karma might befall those who’d dare lie about their pet’s service animal status). Service animals don’t need to be in a crate to rideshare, either. And one quick note that a Quoted reader pointed out to us: While there are multiple websites that promise to register your pet as a service animal, the Department of Justice doesn’t recognize any of the online sites as having legal status.[May 2016 Update] While Uber’s service animal policy is firm in its sparseness—all drivers are required by law to transport service animals and any resistance on the part of a driver should be reported to Uber. In practice, though, many riders with disabilities found themselves stranded after Uber drivers unfamiliar with the specifications of the law (or uninterested in upholding it) denied them rides, which led to litigation by riders claiming discrimination. But representatives for riders with disabilities and Uber reached a lawsuit settlement in early May, reports CBS. Per the settlement, Uber agreed to, “require that existing and new drivers confirm they understand their legal obligations to transport riders with guide dogs or other service animals,” writes CBS. Uber will spend a reported $225,000 to support representatives from the National Federation of the Blind who will ensure Uber’s compliance with the settlement, though the settlement also makes clear Uber admits no wrongdoing or liability.
Lyft’s service animal policy is somewhat more nuanced. Lyft advises potential customers to call their driver after requesting a ride to inform them they will be traveling with a “working companion.” Drivers are only able to decline the ride for a medically documented reason. If a driver does need to decline the ride, it’s their responsibility to call Lyft’s Critical Response Line so that Lyft can make other arrangements for the passenger and service animal.
No Service Animal Designation? Here’s Your How-to:
If yours isn’t a service animal (even though we know the value of your four-legged friend could never be overstated), you may still be able to take it with you while ridesharing. Uber and Lyft drivers have discretion when it comes to transporting pets: they may do so, if they’re willing, but they are not required to transport our non-human companions. Easy tips for traveling with your pet:
- As soon as you request your ride, call the driver and let them know you’d like to bring your pet along
- Be sure to tell the driver whether your pet is crated or not
- If the driver is unwilling to accommodate your pet, you can cancel and try another nearby driver (Lyft will reimburse cancelation fees if a driver declines the fare because of a pet)
- Consider crates and bags for animal safety and cleanliness
- Check out our safety tips for traveling with pets
Uber and Lyft both make it clear that taking pets is definitely an option. So don’t hesitate to rideshare with your lovable cuddly companion.