Uber Technologies Inc. (NYSE: UBER) is rolling out a new service dubbed Uber Pet in select cities this month. The service will match animal owners that need to take their furry friend for a ride with drivers who welcome pets in their vehicles. Starting Oct. 16, the feature will be tested in Austin, Texas; Denver; Nashville, Tenn.; Minneapolis and St. Paul, Minn.; Philadelphia; Phoenix; and Tampa Bay, Fla.
An Uber spokesperson said that the Uber Pet service is similar to services it’s previously tested in countries in Latin America and Asia. During the ride-request phase, customers will be able to select the Uber Pet option in the same way they do UberX and UberPool. They’ll then see an updated rate with an added surcharge of $3 to $5, and get paired with a driver who is willing to transport both pet and owner.
The spokesperson said that drivers will get a share of the special surcharge, but declined to name a specific percentage rate. Instead, the spokesperson said that it would be “close to the majority” of the surcharge collected for the trip. The spokesperson also said that Uber drivers have recourse to charge those riders for any damages to their vehicle that may occur due to pet transport, per the company’s community guidelines.
It’s the driver’s choice in terms of whether a pet will be allowed in the car. Uber drivers are independent contractors operating out of their own vehicles, and it is perfectly reasonable that anyone would be wary of inviting in a dog, cat, or other animal they are unfamiliar with. Drivers can opt-out of transporting passengers who are bringing along an animal. If drivers opt-in to Uber Pet, they will not be penalized for denying passengers with pets that can’t be accommodated.
This new service only applies to non-service animals. Service animals are allowed to ride at all times at no extra cost in accordance with state and federal law. Passengers with service animals can order a vehicle in any form they prefer.