Animals across Australia can now catch a ride to their vet or grooming appointments without their owners with a new taxi service just for pets.
Australian business PetCloud has launched the service with an Uber-style app and 1110 drivers, who have been trained in animal handling and undergone police checks.
Just like other ride share services, users download the app and book a pet taxi on demand or schedule a pick-up 72 hours in advance.
Pet owners can track their pet’s ride in real time through the app’s GPS system and get fare estimates before they book. A one-way trip is estimated to cost $40 on average.
Toy cavoodle owner Deb Morrison, who is CEO of PetCloud, said the service was available to any animals that were easily portable.
“We don’t have anyone offering horse floats or things like that – it’s not livestock transport,” she told news.com.au.
“We just wanted to make it easy for pet owners who are time-poor or for owners who are without transport. For example, they may have relocated overseas and can’t drive just yet or for people with disabilities, who may not be able to drive and we wanted to be able to help them get the support they need to get their pets to appointments.”
Just like humans, pets are also expected to be strapped in for their taxi ride, added Ms Morrison.
“Pet owners need to have their dogs in a dog body harness and a leash attached on pick-up and then for cat owners their cats need to be in a cat carrier on pick-up,” she said.
“All pet taxi drivers have a pet car tether, that basically attaches to the car’s seat belt, and then the pet car tether clips on to body harness or cat carrier and they are placed on to the back seat of the car.”
PetCloud was launched by Ms Morrison five years ago in her garage, financed with money from the sale of her house. It originally began as a website and app to connect owners with pet sitters and has more than 100,000 users. RSCPA Queensland is also a part owner of the business.
But the COVID-19 pandemic really impacted the pet sitting side of the business, Ms Morrison admitted, who future proofed the business to border closures and travel restrictions by launching the pet taxi app.
Currently around two-thirds of Australian households have pets, Ms Morrison said, but
businesses such as vet clinics and grooming salons can also book pet taxis on behalf of their clients.
“We believe this will be a service that will accelerate a lot of vet clinics and groomers, because basically it stops no shows and cancellations as pets are no longer dependant on pet owners being available to be picked up and dropped off,” she said.
“Our own business will grow exponentially. We see it being an enormous year and we are liking the feedback, with hundreds of people expressing their interest in the pet taxis.”
Prior to the pandemic, a capital raising round for PetCloud attracted investment from F45 president Marc Marano and Scale Investors, Australia’s first and only network of angel investors who invest in exceptional female founders.
From the funding Ms Morrison agreed to deliver an app, but has smashed it out of the park with six new products. The company launched six new apps including for pet sitting, dog walking, a national pet directory, the pet taxis for both drivers and owners and a store that sells dog and cat-themed gifts.
“We have 15,000 visits organically a week to our website without advertising,” she said. “I think that’s pretty epic. It means you don’t have to keep diluting and raising capital as it means the business becomes self-sustaining.”
Ms Morrison was listed on Forbes for 60 women-led start-ups that are shaking up tech across the globe and in number one place, in The Martec’s 25 top women-founded start-ups to watch.