No Car? No Problem!
No car? No problem!
As much as dogs and their moms love a good walk, sometimes you just need a vehicle to get you from A to B. Maybe your vet is in another ward of the city, or maybe you’re trying to get to a DC Dog Moms meetup across town. More than one-third of all DC household don't have a vehicle, though. What to do? It depends on how you’re planning to travel. Read on for more tips!
There’s a lot of information below, so if you want the takeaway, here it is: Generally, your dog must be in a carrier, no matter how you’re traveling. Carrier requirements differ by service. But for bigger dogs that don’t fit into a carrier, we offer other solutions below! Also, always be considerate of other passengers or car-share users by taking steps to prevent shedding onto any seats and removing any pet hair that remains after you travel. We recommend bringing a blanket for your pet as well as a lint remover to help keep shared spaces clean.
By Metro and Bus:
From Metro’s web site (https://www.wmata.com/about/contact/faq.cfm): “Service animals that assist people with disabilities are the only animals permitted to ride unconfined on Metrorail and Metrobus. However, a pet may be transported on Metrorail and Metrobus, provided it is carried aboard in a secure container from which it cannot escape.” Translation? Your dog has to be in a carrier or bag. The good news is that there are no weight or size restrictions. The bad news is that you probably can’t lift a carrier with a St. Bernard inside.
There are plenty of carriers for dogs under 15 pounds—almost any plastic kennel, shoulder bag, or backpack designed for dogs will fit your petite pooch. For dogs over 20 pounds, it’s a little more difficult to find a carrier that will be comfortable for your pup and not too difficult for you to carry. DC Dog Mom Heather swears by the K9 Sport Sack because her chunky Frenchie easily and comfortably fits inside. As far as low-key carriers go, DC Dog Mom Amanda recommends the Outward Hound PoochPouch Sling Dog Carrier. People rarely notice her pups are even along for the Metro ride! Rolling carriers are another option to consider—the wheels make it easy to transport your dog while the mesh side panels help keep him or her cool and connected to you.
As always on Metrorail or Metrobus, be considerate—don’t take up aisle space right by the exit, don’t use the handicapped seats, and be aware that other riders may be uncomfortable around animals.
The DC municipal regulations explicitly state the guidelines for traveling with a dog in taxis and other vehicles for hire in Title 31, Chapter 8 (http://dcregs.dc.gov/Gateway/RuleHome.aspx?RuleNumber=31-801). You’ll find them under 801.10 if you’re interested. (#nerdalert!) Again, service dogs are permitted to ride without charge or carrier. Otherwise, “small dogs or other small animals may accompany a passenger without charge” if they are “securely enclosed in a carrier designed for that purpose.” Small is not defined here, so use your best judgment. However, any taxi driver can refuse to transport non-service animals if the driver has an exemption certificate due to allergies or another medical condition. “Without such exemption certificate, an operator may not refuse to transport any passenger traveling with a small dog or other small animal that is securely enclosed in such carrier. Each exemption certificate shall be on a form prescribed by the Office and notarized by an appropriately licensed medical professional.” Translation? If a cab driver refuses you service when your small dog is in an appropriate carrier, he or she should have a medical certificate on hand to demonstrate why that refusal is allowed. In our experience, however, it can’t hurt to ask a taxi driver if they’re willing to allow you to bring your dog in the car even if he or she isn't in a carrier. They often don’t mind and will let you and your pup hop in, and the worst case is they’ll just say no—no biggie! In that case, we suggest moving onto Uber or Lyft.
By Uber or Lyft:
Uber (https://help.uber.com/h/94ddcfe8-5339-4e78-a3af-3667dec55362) and Lyft (https://help.lyft.com/…/214589667-Pet-Policy-Non-Service-An…), of course, also allow service dogs. Each company provides specific guidance on traveling with other animals.
Uber and Lyft leave the decision up to each driver, and both services encourage you to call your driver as soon as your ride request has been accepted to let him or her know that you will be traveling with a dog. The driver can cancel the ride at that point if he or she would prefer not to drive with a dog. Uber also recommends that you either confine your dog to a carrier or bring a blanket to reduce shedding or other messes in the car. DC Dog Mom Sarah has trained Miles to lie down on the floor of the car to help keep the space clean! DC Dog Mom Charlotte has also had a high success rate asking Uber and Lyft drivers if they’re OK with a dog being in the car and ensuring them her dog will stay on the floor. They almost always have no problem with this, but if they do say no, no need to stress! Just make sure you call before the five-minute window expires so that you aren’t charged to cancel, and try again. Lyft will credit you if you are charged a fee when the driver cancels because you have a pet with you. Odds are the next driver will be happy to accommodate you and your pup. You should also note that Uber prohibits non-service animals on Uber Pool rides out of respect for other passengers.
By Rental Car:
Car-sharing services like Zipcar, car2go, and Getaround all follow the same general guidelines as Metro and Taxis—your pet must be secured in a carrier to ride—but each has specific requirements. Again, with larger breeds that don't fit in a carrier, in our experience, we’ve had luck with putting down a clean blanket and bringing a lint roller to make sure no fur is left behind. You definitely don’t want to get stuck with a cleaning fee if you’re breaking the rules, so you’ve been warned! ;-)
Zipcar (https://support.zipcar.com/…/220334108-Pets-Must-Travel-in-…) requires locked carriers and asks users to remove pet hair at the end of the trip to be considerate to other rideshare community members who may have pet allergies (or, you know, be wearing black pants). Zipcar also asks that those traveling with service animals let the company know so they can clean up any hair before the car is used again.
Car2Go (https://www.car2go.com/US/en/washington/faq/) specifies that pets must be in “airline-approved pet carriers” and reserves the right to charge users who leave pet hair behind in the vehicle.
Getaround (https://www.getaround.com/terms/renter) prohibits pets except in designated pet-friendly cars. Those cars will have a green pet icon in the etiquette section of the car’s profile, while non-pet-friendly cars will have a red icon. If you do take a pet-friendly vehicle, you must keep your dog in a carrier and return the car free of any hair or messes. Users that return cars with dog hair in them will be charged a $100 cleaning fee.
We hope this information has been helpful. If you have any tips on traveling with dogs in the city, let us know! We’ll also be sharing some insight soon on taking longer trips with your pups (like road trips, train trips, and plane rides!), so stay tuned.