Gallup estimates that 60% of Americans own pets. That’s a lot of pets! If you’re a pet owner and a regular customer of Uber and Lyft, there is no doubt that a day will come when you’ll need to take your pet with you.
But, what are Uber’s and Lyft’s policies towards pets? Are you allowed to take pets?
Ridester looks into these questions and finds the answers you need.
Are You Allowed to Take Pets in an Uber or Lyft?
Well, it depends. The answer isn’t as straightforward as you might think. But that’s the nature of using companies whose workers aren’t employees.
Since Uber and Lyft drivers aren’t employees, Uber and Lyft can’t really command them to allow all pets. Drivers are independent contractors, who drive their own cars – not company cars. As such, they are allowed the discretion to decide whether or not they want to accept any particular animal.
In the case of both companies, drivers are allowed to use their discretion when it comes to accepting pets on rides. Except, in the case of service animals, which we’ll talk about in a minute.
But both companies recommend that you call the driver right after he accepts your call and inform him that you have a pet and ask if he’s okay with that.
If you’re planning to ride with a pet that’s not a service animal, it’s good practice to contact the driver who accepted your ride request to let them know. You can use the Uber app to send a text message or call your driver.
Please help drivers keep vehicles clean for all riders by bringing a carrier or blanket to reduce the risk of damage or mess. Some drivers may keep a blanket or other covering in the trunk of their vehicle.
Out of respect for other riders, unless you have a service animal, pets are not allowed on uberPOOL trips.
Although drivers aren’t allowed to bring their own own (sic) furry friends along for the ride when driving (after all, some passengers have allergies or are otherwise uncomfortable with unfamiliar animals), some passengers will ask to bring their pets along with them when requesting a ride. Unless the passenger has a service animal, it’s entirely up to the driver whether or not to allow the passenger’s pet in the vehicle.
We advise passengers to call their drivers after their ride request is accepted to confirm that it’s OK to bring their pets.
As a driver, if you’re comfortable with it, passengers love it when you go the extra mile, so feel free! But if you’d prefer to not have their pet (that is, a non-service animal) in your car for any reason, be friendly and politely ask the passenger to cancel the ride. If they’re charged a fee, they can reach out to us by tapping ‘Contact Support’ below and we’ll take care of it.
What About Service Animals?
If a passenger has a service animal, drivers from both companies are required, not only by the companies themselves, but by law as well, to allow the animals.
According to the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA), “a service animal is any dog, that is individually trained to do work or perform tasks for the benefit of an individual with a disability, including a physical, sensory, psychiatric, intellectual or other mental disability.”
Interesting, the ADA does not contemplate any other species as service animals (except for miniature horses – which of course are not allowed because of their large size). The ADA states that:
Other species of animals, whether wild or domestic, trained or untrained, are not considered service animals.
So, while your Uber or Lyft driver may be required to haul your dog, they are not ever required to carry your cat.
Service Animal Documentation
Another requirement of the American with Disabilities Act is one that seriously annoys many drivers. And it is that a business or service provider is not allowed to ask for or require any documentation whatsoever. If a customer claims their pet dog is a service animal – their word must be accepted. However, service providers are allowed to ask two specific questions.
The ADA states that to determine if an animal is a service animal, a public entity or a private business may ask two questions:
- Is this animal required because of a disability?
- What work or task has this animal been trained to perform?
These questions may not be asked if the need for the service animal is obvious (e.g., the dog is guiding an individual who is blind or is pulling a person’s wheelchair).
A public entity or private business may not ask about the nature or extent of an individual’s disability or require documentation, such as proof that the animal has been certified, trained or licensed as a service animal, or require the animal to wear an identifying vest.
The following tasks of an animal are not considered work or tasks under the ADA’s definition of service animal:
- Emotional support
- Crime deterrence
If a passenger tells you the task their dog is trained to perform is one of those – you do not have to accept that passenger.
Check out this video where a woman tried to scam a driver into believing he was legally obligated to accept her dog. In this case, the driver knew his stuff and got it exactly right.
In the video, the driver properly and legally asks the passenger for what purpose the dog is trained. The woman says it’s trained as an emotional support animal. But, as we just learned, emotional support dogs are not covered under the ADA, so the driver is under no obligation whatsoever to take her and her dog.
Some people think they know just what to say to force drivers to transport their animals. And if drivers don’t know the law, many of them will be fooled. But this driver knew the law and was under no obligation to carry the woman’s dog.
Many drivers express frustration that passengers don’t have to show some kind of paperwork proving their dog is a qualified service animal. But, by knowing the law, you can get to the truth a lot of times by asking the two allowed questions.
If the passenger doesn’t give a legally correct answer to either one, you’re under no obligation to them. And it is likely in most cases where the passenger doesn’t have a legal service dog that they will probably get the answer to that question wrong.
What Types of Work do Service Animals Do?
You hear many driver complaints about having to accept dogs on rides. The complaints often focus around riders who claim their dog is a service animal, but where the driver can’t see any visible signs of a physical need for a service animal.
There are reasons, however, why drivers may not be able to see a physical need. Because service dogs are not necessarily performing a service every moment and they’re not necessarily performing a service that you can see.
Here is a list of the types of services these dogs can perform. We’ve highlighted the ones that you would most likely not be able to see with a passenger who is taking a short trip in your car.
- Assisting individuals who are blind or have low vision with navigation and other tasks.
- Alerting individuals who are deaf or hard of hearing to the presence of people or sounds.
- Providing non-violent protection or rescue work.
- Pulling a wheelchair.
- Assisting an individual during a seizure.
- Alerting individuals to the presence of allergens.
- Retrieving items such as medicine or the telephone.
- Providing physical support and assistance with balance and stability to individuals with mobility disabilities.
- Helping individuals with psychiatric and neurological disabilities by preventing or interrupting impulsive or destructive behaviors.
While you would obviously be able to detect if a dog was pulling your passenger in a wheelchair, you would not be able to detect a dog who assists your passenger in the event they have a seizure – unless they had a seizure in your presence.
While you would easily be able to detect a dog who was assisting a blind individual, you would have a very hard time detecting that a dog assisted your passenger in retrieving items such as medicine or their telephone!
It’s important for drivers to know that these dogs do provide valuable and necessary services, but those services are not always evident during a brief encounter.
Tips for Riders with Pets
If you’re a rider with a pet, you can do things to help make the trip a pleasant experience for everyone.
First, just keep in mind you’re probably riding in the driver’s personal car. He owns it and if your pet messes it up, he may understandably be very upset about that.
Also keep in mind that many drivers simply do not want animals in their car for any reason whatsoever. So, even if you have a service animal and the driver allows it, just remember he may still be annoyed by it.
For Riders with Pets or Service Animals:
- If your animal is a service animal, and although drivers are required to take you and your animal, since you now know that many drivers hate doing this – it could help smooth things over if you call the driver before he arrives and simply tell him you have a pet. Ask if he’s okay with it. If he says yes, then you know he’s really okay with it because he doesn’t know it’s a service animal so he wasn’t forced to say yes. Yes, you can force him to take you if you need to for any reason, but if you want the most comfortable trip possible, this is the best way to ensure the driver really doesn’t mind.
- For all riders with animals, remembering that you’re in the driver’s personal car, try to keep things as clean as possible for them. You should make the animal sit or lie on the floor, as many drivers will get very upset if there is dog hair on the seats when you leave. That’s because the next passenger has to sit there and may give your driver a lower rating if they find dog hair all over the seats.
- Bring a pet carrier, if at all possible. It’s not required but drivers will really appreciate it. And if your pet isn’t a service animal, it will greatly increase the likelihood that the driver will allow you to take your pet on the trip.
- Leave a tip. It’s not required of course, but greatly appreciated. Keep in mind that even if you’re with a service animal and have an absolute right to be picked up – it’s still extra work for the driver if your dog sheds at all. Drivers must keep their cars very clean in order to get high ratings. So, if your dog sheds, your driver will have to put in some extra effort and possibly cash, to get his car clean again.
- Whatever you do – whether your dog is a service animal or just a pet – please make sure the dog has relieved himself before the trip so he/she will not do so during the trip!