Fifteen years ago, Mr. Lang noticed that the subway systemâ€™s vast ridership included few dogs. Passengers can bring small pets on board in carrying cases, but owners of larger dogs cannot travel with their pets by subway, bus or taxi. Sensing he could fill a void, he founded Pet Chauffeur, a taxi service for animals, in 1996.
From his home office on East 36th Street, Mr. Lang coordinates a fleet of four orange-and-blue minivans and a staff of 12 dispatchers and drivers. Customers have the option of riding along with their pets, but many choose not to, leaving the drivers to learn their dogsâ€™ idiosyncrasies first-hand. And dogs are not the only animals getting a lift: Pet Chauffeur has transported everything from leopards to bulk shipments of lab rats. But dogs are the most frequent riders, and Mr. Lang says the most popular destinations are veterinary clinics, grooming salons and boarding kennels.