Zipcar operates a membership-based car-sharing service in over fifty cities in the U.S., Canada and the U.K. Though the company makes mistakes (hello? pulled out of L.A.??), the car-sharing concept is terrific. Zipcar originally banned pets from its cars, but its current pet policy is sensible:
We understand that Fido and Tigger need to go to the vet on occasion. Pets are only allowed into Zipcars in locked pet carriers and members are responsible for the removal of any residual pet hair. Please don’t let your furry friend out of their carrier. It’s unfair to the other members.
Since I first wrote this post, the scene has changed. Zipcar has returned to Los Angeles, and it now has a mighty competitor in Car2Go, which is not pet-friendly (“Sadly, no. Your beloved pet cannot join you on your trip. This is for your safety as well as your pet’s.”)
Zipcar has local competitors in several cities, including Chicago, Minneapolis-St.Paul, New York, San Francisco/Bay Area, Philadelphia and Toronto.
Chicago’s non-profit I-Go Cars offers a fleet of eco-friendly cars. Its pet policy states:
Not without a carrier. You must clean up after them. Many people are highly allergic to pet hair, and nobody wants to get in a car with dog or cat hair all over the seats—an avoidable nuisance that can also disrupt our cleaning crew’s tight schedule by requiring immediate treatment. For these reasons, we require that pets must travel in pet carriers. The fee for having a pet in an I-GO car without a pet carrier is $100.
HourCar, a non-profit car-share in the Twin Cities, has the following pet policy: “Don’t transport a pet in an HOURCAR, unless it is in a carrier. Put the carrier on the cargo blanket in the back and shake out the blanket when you are done. Some members are allergic to pet hair. Keep the car clean for the next member.” New York’s Mint has a similar pet policy: “If your pet is coming along for the ride, please keep them in animal carriers. Clean the vehicle interior after your reservation is over if hair or dirt is left behind. Be mindful of the fact that the next driver might have allergies to pet hair.”
Connect by Hertz (which also has offices in Washington, D.C., Paris and London) has the following pet policy: “With the exception of service animals accompanying a member or passenger with a disability, animals are not allowed in the vehicle at any time unless they are contained within an appropriate animal carrier. Animals too large for carriers are not allowed in the vehicle.”
The Bay Area’s non-profit City CarShare used to handle two issues at once in its FAQs by asking, “Can my pets smoke in the car?” Alas, these days the member handbook simply states that “Due to allergies and sanitary concerns, pets are only allowed in locked pet carriers while in City CarShare vehicles.”
PhillyCarShare, a non-profit car-sharing service in Philadelphia, has reciprocity with the Bay Area’s City CarShare. Not surprisingly, they also have a similar pet policy: “If you allow a pet in the vehicle, it must be in a carrier that keeps all hair inside!”
AutoShare, in Toronto, has the following pet policy:
80% of our cars are ‘Pet Accessible’ but you must use a pet carrier… and vacuum as necessary. All cars must be treated with respect and there should never be any sign of your pet when your trip is finished. Please note that about 20% are Pet Free, and no pets may be brought with you.
Boulder, CO’s non-profit car-sharing service is called eGo CarShare, and its pet policy also requires that dogs be in carriers: “At this time all pets must be transported in a pet carrier. As our fleet grows we may be able to designate some vehicles as “pet friendly.” If you notice any pet hairs, etc. in any of our cars please notify us. Also, if you have any severe pet allergies please notify us of this when you apply so that we can ensure the cars you use will be completely pet-free.”
These companies caught my attention, but there are, in fact, many car-sharing companies in the U.S. and abroad. Here’s a helpful list from Carsharing.net to get you started.