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.
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.”

25 thoughts on “Dog Parkers: Are These Sidewalk Crates Convenient or Controversial?”

  1. I never leave my dogs unattended even for 5 seconds in public. They are my babies, it’s unsafe to leave tgem especially in NYC. I live in NYC and would never do that to them

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  2. It is a good idea and a bad idea. You really are taking a chance that your dog won’t catch something from being in such a closed in environment that another dog just used, like Doggy Flu, and Kennel Cough to name a couple of them. It is risky! When I take my dogs for a walk, that is all we do….just walk. I run my errands at a different time. I definitely don’t believe in leaving a dog unattended even for a couple of minutes. You never know who may want to steal them or give them a poisoned treat, if they are tied up outside of a store. Better safe then sorry and don’t take your dog on an errand unless he is welcomed into the store with you.

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  3. I feel like a lot of the people who say that this is a bad idea are not familiar with how things work in New York. Living in a city, people have to walk their dogs to parks for exercise. If something comes up along the way (say, for example, the owner has to use the restroom) there are no options other than to leave the dog outside. This is a great option for times when unexpected things come up.

    And even if people take their dogs with them when they run errands, it’s because they want them to have more exercise. I’d venture to say that most dogs would spend 15 minutes in one of these if it meant getting to go on even more walks with their owner.

    As for the other arguments:
    1. If these are properly cared for, I don’t imagine that they would have any more ‘diseases’ than the average dog park.

    2. Most dogs in NY aren’t stressed out about being left for a couple minutes – they’re used to being around people and being on the sidewalk.

    3. “People will use these to abandon dogs.” If someone is going to abandon a dog, they are going to do it whether this service exists or not. It’s better to leave the dog in this crate, where it is monitored and picked up after a certain amount of time, rather than to kill it or let it loose in the street.

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