‘Pet taxis’ flourish in South Korea as owners seek comfortable travel with animals
Pet owners are willing to fork out a little extra to travel with their ‘babies’ without worrying about upset drivers
By Park Si-soo
Rapid growth of South Korea’s pet market has led to the birth of a new business: pet taxis.
About 10 pet-only taxi companies are running successfully in Seoul, although they charge four times the fare of ordinary taxis. And the business is quickly making its way to provincial cities and other rural areas.
Kim Hae-rang, a pet lover from northern Seoul, is a frequent pet taxi caller. Last Thursday, she hailed a taxi to visit a pet beauty salon about three kilometres away with her two-year-old dog. It took 15 minutes and she paid 12,200 won (US$10.69), a distance that would cost 4000 won (US$3.50) in an ordinary taxi. But she didn’t regret it.
“I like this,” she said. “It’s very comfortable to travel with my baby. I was uncomfortable while travelling in ordinary taxis because drivers were visibly upset about the dog barking or typical dog smell. Many drivers even yelled when my dog peed on a urine pad I brought in.”
Whatever her dog does on board, pet taxi drivers accept it, she said. Fares vary depending on the distance, size and number of passengers. The accompanying human passenger is not charged.
Taxi companies claim pet taxis are illegal because they provide paid transportation of pet owners without having state-issued taxi licenses. But pet taxi owners reject this, saying they don’t charge human passengers.