When Aucklander Phil Welch and his cat Smooch were picked up by an Uber driver he was surprised his caged kitty was shown no love.
Welch is miffed his driver would not allow his 14-year-old cat in a carry cage in the car as the duo tried to make it to the vet for a regular checkup.
Welch ended up missing his appointment as a result and had to rebook for another week.
He claimed the driver had given him an “ultimatum” and told him he would only allow the cat on board if it was put in the boot.
“Imagine if the animal had been sick, you wouldn’t be able to put it in the boot it would die,” Welch said.
“It wasn’t a hatchback.”
Welch, who is a frequent user of the ride-sharing service, was taken aback at the suggestion of putting his much-loved pet in the enclosed space.
“It is his car at the end of the day but would a toddler with a dripping ice-cream be treated the same way?”
The driver had 17,000 trips under his belt so, if he was to lose Welch as a customer, it would not make much difference to him, Welch said.
“I missed my appointment. It’s more inconvenient than anything.”
Welch, who works at NZME, was charged $10 for the trip he didn’t take but contested the charge and was refunded.
He said he would continue to use the ride-sharing service because of how affordable and readily available it was.
He joked Smooch may have been in touch with the driver beforehand to avoid the dreaded trip to the vet.
SPCA spokesperson Jessie Gilchrist said there was no law to forbid putting animals in a self-contained boot.
However, the SPCA did not recommend it and said it did not follow good practice.
An Uber New Zealand spokeswoman said the ride-sharing service clearly stated on its website that transporting pets was left to the discretion of its partner drivers.
When wanting to ride an Uber with a pet, the company recommended contacting the driver once the ride had been accepted and confirming they were okay with transporting an animal.
“Via in-app messaging or the call option, you can speak to the driver partner and confirm before the vehicle arrives,” the spokeswoman said.
“If you are travelling with a pet, please remember to be courteous and bring along a crate or blanket to reduce the risk of making a mess or damage to the vehicle.”
Uber – as well as leading taxi providers – allowed service animals such as guide dogs to accompany riders at all times.
Barry White, general manager of Auckland Co-op Taxis, said he was surprised to hear of Welch’s predicament.
Generally the allowance of any pet aboard taxis was up to the discretion of the driver but he didn’t see an issue with a cat in a cage.
If possible, try to get your pet used to being transported before you have to do any substantial trips, so that this is not a source of stress for them.
You can do this by gentle and patient training of the animal with the vehicle, making sure that the experiences the pet has in the vehicle are positive, introducing short trips first, and building up to longer trips slowly and only when your pet is ready and coping well.
2. Ask your veterinarian how you can make trips more comfortable for your pet. For example, animals that get motion sickness or are anxious during transport can be given medications to help them.
There are also some pheromone-based products that may help cats and dogs feel more relaxed.
3. Be aware that pets can jump out of a vehicle’s windows, so keep windows up or only slightly open.
If the animal is able to get their head out then it is possible for them to get completely out.
4. The safest way for a dog to travel in a vehicle is contained in a safe crate that has been securely anchored to the vehicle (ideally the crate should be soft-sided or padded to prevent injuries if there is an accident).
An alternative is to use a properly fitted dog harness that has passed safety tests and is securely attached to the vehicle as directed by the manufacturer.
However, few harnesses have been shown to adequately protect dogs during a crash.
5. If transporting a cat, keep them contained in a carry cage that is partially covered to make the cat feel more secure.
However, make sure that there is adequate ventilation and that the cat does not get too hot.
The carrier must be safely secured in the car so that it does not move around and hurt your cat.
6. Your pet should be kept in the back seat of the car. This will prevent them from being injured if an airbag deploys while they are in the front seat.
7. You should stop frequently during longer trips to allow your dog to exercise and go to the toilet.
If leaving the car, your dog should always have a collar, ID tag, registration, and leash on.
8. Please do not leave your pet alone in a vehicle.