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Uber is testing animal-friendly rides in the US

If you ever try to take a pet in an Uber, you’ll be met with mixed results. While some drivers are happy to take your cat or dog along for the ride, others are – understandably – resistant. 

Not only is there a risk that animals can shed (or worse) all over a lovely clean car, some drivers have allergies and would rather not be trapped in a moving box with something that could irritate the sinuses. As a result, passengers are currently encouraged to phone their driver to check if they’re okay with pets on board. If they’re not, the process is repeated, which isn’t quite as frictionless as Uber sets out to be in general. 

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Now Uber is looking to make the whole process more consistent with a test in seven cities across the United States. Uber Pet will let you select animal-friendly rides for a small extra fee, where you’re guaranteed to get a warm welcome – or at least not to have your ride unceremoniously cancelled at any rate.

Uber Pet will cost an extra $3 to $5, but it seems like a win-win situation. Passengers no longer have to play the pet-friendly lottery with their rides, and drivers who want nothing to do with animals won’t have to play nice to maintain that five-star rating. 

Uber says that while drivers can opt-out of pet pickups, those that opt-in will get a “significant amount” of the animal surcharge in addition to the normal earnings. An Uber spokesperson told Gizmodo that this would be “close to the majority”. 

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Uber Pet will go live on October 16 in Austin, Denver, Nashville, Minneapolis-St. Paul, Philadelphia, Phoenix and Tampa Bay. Service animals are exempt, and free to travel with passengers at no extra charge.

Curiously, this isn’t the first time Uber has tried something like this. UberPets (note the added ‘s’) was debuted in 2015, but clearly didn’t last long if the company is trying again. Notably, the announcement at the time says that “uberPets will be the same price as uberX”, which suggests the company has learned that drivers need a bit more incentive to open up their cars to every cat, dog or budgie in town.

Would you pay more for an Uber fit for your dog? Let us know on Twitter: @TrustedReviews.

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