Rentable sidewalk crates authorize people to stash Fido while they running errands

Source:   —  April 07, 2016, at 9:11 PM

There are five of these cramped canine quarters so far, none bigger than 30-by-40 inches, and all on the sidewalks in front of stores in - where else? - Brooklyn.

Rentable sidewalk crates authorize people to stash Fido while they running errands

In a city that’s expert at peddling solutions to problems number one quite knew they had, the Dog Parker was probably inevitable: a rentable doghouse that authorize New Yorkers to stash their furry charges while they fetch groceries and retrieve dry cleaning, errands only complicated by a leash and a Labrador.

There are five of these cramped canine quarters so far, none bigger than thirty-by-40 inches, and all on the sidewalks in front of stores in - where else? - Brooklyn. Portion of a pilot program begun latest fall, they were tagged as “Uber for tying your dog exterior the deli.”

And they’ve been blessed with mostly breezy, uncritical coverage by local TV newscasts and a variety of news outlets. A Bustle piece enthused: “What looks love a fancy gym locker sitting on the sidewalk is actually a box you can park your dog in.”

But as the prepares to launch one hundred new boxes across Brooklyn - with hopes of spreading to other cities - it’s likely to obtain more sharp yanks on its leash, love when Gothamist pointed out that “it’s kind of love leaving your dog in a tiny jail cell?” Or when renowned dog expert Alexandra Horowitz tweeted: “parking your dog. no. I’m afraid not. nope. no.”

Dog Parker’s founder and CEO, Chelsea Brownridge, bristles at criticism. She said she came up with the idea out of frustration, when she found she couldn’t get her beloved Winston with her wherever she went. She says it'll enable dogs to accompany owners on their errands while helping to “eradicate the terrible behavior of tying up your dog to a pole.”

Her business is largely self-funded, she says, and (inevitable Uber references aside) “is based nearly entirely on .”

Love Car2Go, users connect the service online, download the app and pay an annual fee (for Dog Parker, it’s $25), before getting a card in the mail. Members utilize the app to discover and rent the Dog Parker, and utilize the card to open the crate, where they can then lock up their dog for twenty cents a min while they obtain groceries, grab a snack or get a yoga class. The app also lets them monitor their dog through a tiny camera in the crate.

She offers the Dog Parker for free to retailers, who under NY laws, control the three to five feet in front of their stores - “We work love an ATM machine or vending machine,” she says.

Horowitz, who runs the at Barnard College and is the author of “,” grounds her work in trying to look the world from a dog’s point of view. And from that vantage point, she said, the Dog Parker looks love a dog.

She questions whether the Dog Parker is “safe,” as advertised. “It’s secure because the dog’s locked up, but that’s purely from the human point of view,” she says. Most dogs, she said, would likely feel trapped.

And there’s also the problem of the box’s mostly blocked views. “If there’s any sound, they can’t look what’s going on,” Horowitz said. “Dogs look; they don’t sit with their backs to something.”

Brownridge counters that the sound is “highly muffled” in the doghouses because of soundproofing, and that future models will have more windows.

The Dog Parker claims to be “climate-controlled,” which just means they're insulated, and have a fan that’s activated when the temperature or humidity hits a certain limit. When the temperature drops below thirty-two or above eighty-five degrees Fahrenheit, dog-owners are alerted to arrive choose up their dogs, and the boxes won’t work again until conditions improve. It also penalizes owners who leave their dogs past the service’s three-hour time limit; at that point it starts charging $5 a minute, and after 30 minutes, an employee will be sent to delete the dog and space it in a boarding facility, where it'll cost $200 (on top of the boarding fees) to choose up a dog.

Still, even following the rules could result in a dog sitting in a box for three hours at thirty-third or eighty-four degrees Fahrenheit. Brownridge agrees that’s a terrible scenario - but insists it'd never happen. The average stays have been for ten to fifteen minutes, she says. She added that her staff can look the dogs on the cameras and would monitor dogs that were left for too long, or in dangerous conditions.

Even as the no of doghouses expands to one hundred? “Yes,” she said.

She sought feedback from “a number” of experts before launching Dog Parker, she said, and in the process developed a “network of animal advocates who really believe in what we’re doing.” Brownridge said she'd engaged with different organizations, including the .

But when asked about the Dog Parker, the ASPCA released a thoroughly disapproving statement from Gail Buchwald, senior vice president of ASPCA’s adoption center: “If pet owners aren't planning to visit pet-friendly establishments while running errands, the ASPCA recommends they leave their dogs at home. Leaving a dog unattended could keep the pet’s safety at risk.”

Interestingly, both Brownridge and Horowitz compare the Dog Parker to the shunned practice of leaving dogs in cars, which in many places is illegal. To Brownridge, her company offers a attentive alternative. But to Horowitz, it’s not entirely different at all. It justifies putting a dog in a position of discomfort for our own, very human, convenience, she said.

Doing that can backfire, because as a culture, our treatment of animals seems only to become better as time goes on. Consider the long line of pet innovations that were once considered acceptable - from choke collars to declawing cats to “debarking,” or modifying a dog’s vocal cords to hold it quiet - and presently are much less so.

Or just ask Mitt Romney, who in one thousand nine hundred eighty-third placed Seamus, the family Irish setter, in a crate atop a Sta wagon for a 12-hour drive, where he became sick. Seamus got better - but the incident mercilessly dogged Romney’s two thousand twelve presidential campaign.

“We evolve,” said Horowitz. “Which is good.”

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