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Dog Parkers: Are These Sidewalk Crates Convenient or Controversial?

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Dog Parker users join the service online,download the app and pay a $25 annual fee. The climate-controlled, crates rent for 20 cents a minute. Cameras allow for monitoring via the app, as well.

In New York City and elsewhere, the tethering of dogs to poles, parking meters and hydrants outside businesses has been long practiced and long frowned-upon. Risks to both pet and public are inherent as furry friends nervously await their owners’ return from a shop, a café, a nail salon.

In Brooklyn, a new business has crept in, aiming to allow owners to bring their dogs along for errands while keeping them comfortable and safe. And while the five prototypes have thus far been quite successful (the pilot program was launched last year) not everyone finds these Dog Parkers so rosy a prospect.

In fact, noted dog expert and “Inside of a Dog” author Alexandra Horowitz pondered the sidewalk crates’ use in a recent article in the Washington Post. “It’s safe because the dog’s locked up, but that’s purely from the human point of view,” she said, adding that most dogs would likely feel trapped.

The Dog Parker purports to be climate-controlled and as they are reserved and monitored via a downloadable app, owners can check in on Rover via video feed and will be notified if temps dip below or rise above safe temperatures. Three hours is the max-allowed use time; owners who violate this policy risk incurring a $5 per minute penalty fee; the regular rate is .20. Dogs left more than a half hour will be picked up and placed in boarding facilities, where additional fees will be incurred before the pet is released.

Dog Parker founder and CEO, Chelsea Brownbridge, admitted this is an unpleasant possibility in the same article, but questioned the likelihood of it happening. Average stays, she says, have been just 10 or 15 minutes. She told the Washington Post that a number of animal advocacy groups, including the American Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals, had been contacted for feedback during the service’s development.

As the program is planning to move from just five “parkers” to 100, Gail Buchwald, senior vice president for the ASPCA’s adoption center, gave her two cents. “If pet owners are not planning to visit pet-friendly establishments while running errands, the ASPCA recommends they leave their dogs at home. Leaving a dog unattended could put the pet’s safety at risk.”

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