HERE’S HOW TO
TAIL A CAB!
The Zindagi Na Milegi Dog-bara Series: Read on to find out how you can travel with pets (within the city as well as outskirts) if you live in India.💙
Hailing a cab in the city is no easy task. Hailing one to travel along with your pets(s) is an ordeal that can be best described as… furry furry difficult indeed! Whether the travel is for recreational purposes or for medical/emergency purposes — convincing taxi drivers/owners/rental companies to let floofs ride is a herculean task because of many factors. Cleanliness is the first reason that is mentioned. You say you’ll make the pets sit on the footboard, that you will make them sit on a bedsheet/in a box. You offer to personally clean after the ride too — to no avail!
In a country that also doesn’t allow pets on public transport without special permits, animal rescuer Laxmi Agarwal took matters in her own hand in the year 2016. She found the solution to many people’s problem in the form of Pet Taxi- a pet friendly cab service! Team BarkButler sat down with her for a chat.
Team BB: Tell us a little about Pet Taxi and the events that gave you the idea to have a taxi for pets.
Laxmi: I am an animal rescuer who often has to take animals to a vet. Till a few years ago, transporting an animal from one place to another used to always be a problem. Many taxis would blatantly refuse and the need for dog friendly cabs was apparent. Those that did take me and the animal would charge exorbitantly and despite this, not switch on the air-conditioning. My experiences convinced me to start a service which provided affordable travel with pets- a pet cab! We started with travel within Mumbai in 2016. By 2018, we had started transport from Mumbai to all over India.
Team BB: How has the Pet Taxi service grown as a business since its inception?
Laxmi: At first, it used to be just my driver and myself providing this service. Today, I have over 100 vendors doing this task and the number of pet transport vehicles is increasing every single day. We have now made 200+ outstation trips from Mumbai. We have made journeys from the Nepal border to Kanyakumari as well. I personally travel in the taxi with the pets if the owners choose to fly to the destination themselves. Our business has, over the years, expanded. Recently I have started PAN INDIA outstation booking where your pets can travel to and from any part of India.
Team BB: Could you shed some light on the taxi-booking procedure?
Laxmi: We operate mainly on WhatsApp. Customers can either text me or call me to make their booking for pet pick up and drop off. We are also available on Facebook and Instagram. Our taxis reach them less than 90 minutes after the booking is made.
Team BB: What is the cost of Pet Taxi?
Laxmi: We charge Rs. 14/km for pet friendly outstation cabs that are AC Sedans. Additionally, there are driver allowance charges and pet-handling charges. For within-city commute, we charge on lump sum basis with the minimum billing of Rs. 1000.
Team BB: What are some of the obstacles you face in this field of work?
Laxmi: Justifying the rates to customers who compare them to human taxis, is difficult. The pricing model of those taxis works very differently from ours as we clean our taxis after each commute. The charges for the said cleaning are in themselves, Rs. 300. There are many cases where owners like to go for outstation trips with pets, but prefer to themselves fly while the pet travels in a cab. In such a situation, the pet’s food, walks and wellbeing are our responsibility. This isn’t an obstacle, of course, but we worry and take utmost care from the start to the end of the journey.
Team BB: Do you have any tips with regards to road journey with pets?
Laxmi: Do not feed the pet for as many hours as possible before a road journey. Our parental feelings convince us that they should eat, but one must resist this urge. Avoiding food before travel reduces occurrences of motion sickness in animals.
Team BB: Have you been in business during these COVID-19 times?
Laxmi: Yes, we have been working non-stop to reunite pets with their owners in these times. As a dog transport service in India that has been function during these times, we have made trips with pets to Kochi, Goa, Delhi, Rishikesh, Chikmanglur, Hyderabad and more places in the past few months.
Team BB: Finally, what do you see in the future of Pet Taxi?
Laxmi: Expansion. Pet Taxi Mumbai is currently pretty functional in Bangalore too, but the goal is to reach to more cities and help out more pets and their owners.