Tag Archives: veterinarian

Action to prevent heartworm in dogs

According to a State of Pet Health Report by Banfield Pet Hospital in Jackson, nearly seven percent of dogs in Mississippi will acquire heartworms this summer, the highest proportion across the nation. The reason risk of infection is so high there is because they have the greatest number of mosquito’s in the US, and heartworm is spread from host to host through the bites of these parasites. However, heartworms are frequently found in dogs throughout the 50 states.

The heartworm is a small thread-like worm. The definitive host is the dog but it can also infect cats, wolves, coyotes, foxes and other animals, such as ferrets, sea lions and even, under very rare circumstances, humans.

Heartworms can live in your dog for six months before any symptoms are displayed. All dogs regardless of their age, sex, or habitat are susceptible to heartworm infection, which is why prevention is necessary. The good news is that heartworm is easily treatable – it just requires keen eyed pet owners to be aware of what the signs are and take action immediately if you suspect that your dog may be suffering with this condition.

What are the signs?

Symptoms of heartworm infection include:

• Coughing
• Shortness of breath
• Fainting after exercise
• Tiring easily
• Weight loss
• Loss of appetite
• Listlessness
• Anaemia
• Jaundice
• Poor coat condition
• Swelling of the abdomen
• Bloody stool

Each of these symptoms on their own, if persistent, warrant a trip to your veterinarian; don’t dismiss them – let a qualified professional be the one to advise you whether or not the symptoms are serious.

Treatments
If your dog doesn’t have heartworm, then there are a variety of preventative treatments available, which will more than likely come in the form of a chewable tablet.

A couple of popular brands used are Heartguard and Interceptor, but there are other brands available which are just as efficient. Ask your vet which ones they recommend.

If your dog has been infected with heartworms, a possible treatment could be Immiticide and would be administered by your veterinarian. This drug has great efficiency and fewer side effects, which makes it a safer alternative for dogs with late-stage infections.

Depending on the condition that your dog was brought in for treatment, there may still be a few practical steps that your dog needs to undertake, e.g. rest, to ensure they receive the maximum benefits for the treatments that have been administered.

Do you know of any other effective brands that can be used to treat heartworms? If so contact us here at Pet Chauffeur so that we can add them to our list.

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Cancer doesn’t have to mean the end for your dog

Cancer.  For decades this one word has struck fear into the heart of anyone who has been given this diagnosis.  Many believed death to be the certain outcome.
Nowadays this isn’t necessarily the case. We forget that with all of the incredible breakthroughs in science and medicine, cancer needn’t be the end.  Even though they cannot speak and tell us when something is wrong, cancer can be detected and treated in dogs, and in many cases it can be cured. The success of treatment will depend on the type of cancer, the treatment used and on how early the tumour is found. The sooner treatment begins, the greater the chances of success. Therefore, one of the best things you can do for your dog is to keep a close eye on them for signs of the disease.
There are doctors who specialise in field oncology, such as the world renowned dog cancer expert Dr Demian Dressler, whose research into the subject has brought immense comfort and hope to dog lovers the world over who have received the upsetting news about their beloved pets.  His comprehensive book, “The Dog Cancer Survival Guide” covers an array of issues surrounding cancer in dogs, such as the various treatments available, the correct diet for a dog that has been diagnosed with cancer, even how to manage your emotions during your difficult time.  So rest assured that a lot can be done to save the life of your pet.
So, how do you know if your dog has cancer?  First of all it would be a good idea to start by taking a look at the breed of your dog.  Did you know that certain breeds have a higher rate of cancers than others?
In my research I discovered the following:
Highest incidence breeds which also develop cancer at an earlier age than other dogs.
• Boxer.
• Golden Retriever
• Rottweiller
• Bernese Mountain Dog

High incidence breeds
• Boston Terrier
• English Bulldog
• Scottish Terrier
• Cocker Spaniel

Average incidence breeds:
• Irish Setter
• Schnauzer
• Labrador
• Mongrels

Relatively low incidence breeds:
• Beagle
• Poodle
• Collie
• Dachshund

It isn’t a sure-fire guarantee that these breed of dogs will develop cancer; it is just to make you aware that there is a higher probability that these breeds may develop the illness.

This isn’t an exhaustive list and there may be some variables from one breed to the next, but these are the signs that indicate your dog might have cancer:

1. Abnormal swellings or lumps that don’t reduce in size or continue to grow
2. Sores that do not heal
3. Loss of appetite
4. Weight loss
5. Bleeding or discharge from openings on/in the body
6. Difficulty eating or swallowing
7. Emitting foul odours (not just breaking wind)
8. Apathy, lack of interest in exercise; reluctance to move around much
9. Persistent lameness or stiffness
10. Difficulty breathing, urinating, or defecating

If your dog has any of these symptoms take them over to your vet as soon as possible.  Don’t immediately fear the worst as these symptoms may be signs of other illnesses too.

If your dog is diagnosed with cancer, however, it still isn’t the end of the world. The vet will discuss your various options, but remember that it is important that you do your research to satisfy yourself that the best course of action for your dog is being taken.  They should know of all the specialist cancer clinics that treat dogs and so they should be able to recommend one to you if they are not able to offer treatment for the type of cancer that your dog has.  Typically the treatments offered are, chemotherapy, radiotherapy or surgery but there are other options available, such as cryotherapy.  Check out our page for the addresses of some of the best veterinary practices in New York.

The key is to arm yourself with as much knowledge as you possibly can so that, should the worst happen, you are able to make informed decisions about the best treatment for your beloved friend.

Pet Chauffeur can handle all your pet transportation needs.If you need a pet taxi for your pet travels, try Petride.com

Choosing the right pet walker for you

Living in New York with pets can be a challenge at times for some pet owners.  Yes, they love their animals and look after them well, but it isn’t always possible to personally ensure their pets get the right amount of exercise necessary daily.  Dogs especially need to have daily walks not only for health reasons but so as to ensure that they don’t start bouncing off your walls at home!

The dog walking industry has been a God-send to many a busy household; it is one of those rare businesses that have actually flourished during the recession because the need for dogs to be walked during working hours is so high.   Fortunately NY has a good number of dog walkers who will gladly take your beloved pooch off to the park for hours of endless fun, thereby putting your mind at rest that they are getting the attention that you aren’t able to give them during the day.

As with everything however, checks have to be made to ensure that you are handing your dog over to someone who will love and care for them as much as you do.  So, how do you choose a good dog walker?

  • Walking dogs for a living is more than just putting on a leash and taking the dog out for a walk.  The person whom you choose must in the first instance be a dog lover in tune with the ways of dogs.  This isn’t really a job suitable for someone looking for a job over the summer.  A dog walker must be very well-trained.
  • Ensure that whoever you choose is very knowledgable about dogs. Dog walkers tend to walk several dogs at a time and they need to be aware of which breeds of dogs are compatible and which ones aren’t.  Will they know what to do if one of their charges is a bitch in heat who is attracting an awful lot of attention from other males looking for a mate? Your dog walker needs to have enough practical wisdom to know what to do.
  • Find out how many dogs they will be walking at any one time. When your dog is out with their walker, in addition to your them getting a good work out they need to be getting proper attention and that really won’t be possible if they are in a pack of 10-12.  A maximum of six is a good number.
  • A good dog walker should have undergone training to know what to do if any of the dogs suddenly turn aggressive.  They need to be able to read situations in advance and take action immediately.
  • Not only does a dog walker need to understand dog behavior and pack mentality, but they need to understand the dog walking culture in NY, park and trail etiquette, laws pertaining to dogs and adhere to them.
  • When interviewing, study how the prospective dog walker interacts with your dog. Are they trying to learn about  your dogs’ social and training abilities?  Are they knowledgeable?  How much experience do they have? Do they ask for vet/health/emergency contact info from you?  How do they transport your dog?  Are they bonded or insured?    Be sure to get references.
  • Do they know any animal first aid techniques?  If so, what?  Do they have the contact details of vets nearby their usual walking spot should something serious happen?
  • How are the dogs  in their care transported?  If it is in a car, how long has the first pick up been in there?  Is the vehicle clean?  Screened?  Are the dogs tethered?  Do they have carpet or a mat to stand on to keep them steady? Are windows open for ventilation?
  • How long is the walk?  Are the dogs provided water during the walk or after?
  • Are they in constant vocal and physical contact with their pack, re-enforcing recall and good behavior?
  • Are they able to keep the dogs in their charge under control or do they let them run wild?

Here are some of the dog walking organisations listed in NYC.  If you have used them before let us know your experience and of any other companies you may know of.

Petaholics

Downtown Pets

NYC Dog Walkers

Katie’s Kitty

King Pup Dog Walkers

Alitia’s Animals

Dog Day Walkers

New York City Dog Walkers

Pet and Home Sitters

New York Tails

Bring Fido

Dogs Sniff Out Lung Cancer

Specially trained dogs can identify most patients with lung cancer by smelling their breath, researchers said.

Sniffing 100 breath samples from patients with biopsy-confirmed lung cancer, the dogs failed to flag only 29, reported Thorsten Walles, MD, of Schillerhoehe Hospital in Gerlingen, Germany, and colleagues online in the European Respiratory Journal.

Among 400 other samples from individuals without lung cancer, the canine sniff test gave false positives for just 28, the researchers found.

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Action Points


  • Explain that specially trained dogs could identify most patients with lung cancer by smelling their breath.
  • Point out that the findings may be more important for confirming that human exhalations contain markers for lung cancer, which eventually may be detectable by more conventional means.

However, Walles and colleagues suggested that the findings were most important for confirming that human exhalations contain markers for lung cancer, which eventually may be detectable by more conventional means.

“This is a big step forward in the diagnosis of lung cancer, but we still need to precisely identify the compounds observed in the exhaled breath of patients,” said Walles in a press release.

Several earlier studies have found that dogs, with their keen sense of smell, can identify patients with various forms of cancer, including tumors of the breast, colon, and lung merely by sniffing. The proposition originated in 1989 with a case report of a man whose melanoma was diagnosed because his dog kept sniffing the lesion.

The dogs used in the current study were young family pets  —  two German shepherds, one Labrador retriever, and one Australian shepherd. Using test tubes containing exhalations from 35 lung cancer patients and 60 healthy controls, a professional dog trainer taught the animals to lie down in front of tubes with samples from the patients.

During both the training and the subsequent testing phase, each sample was given to the dogs only once so that they would not simply learn to recognize individual participants’ characteristic odors.

The testing involved 50 healthy people, 25 patients with histologically confirmed lung cancer, and 50 patients with chronic obstructive pulmonary disorder (COPD). These were different individuals than those providing samples for the training phase.

In the cancer patient group, one patient had stage I disease, two each at IIa and IIb tumors, four were staged IIIa, five had IIIb disease, and 11 were at stage IV.

Blinded observers watched the dogs as they each sniffed at five tubes per session. If a dog appeared to hesitate in front of a tube, it was automatically recorded as an incorrect result. The investigators also took a variety of steps to keep from subtly influencing the dogs.

The testing was conducted in three phases. First, the dogs were presented with samples from healthy controls and lung cancer patients. Next, samples from lung cancer and COPD patients were presented. Finally, the dogs evaluated samples from all three groups.

Somewhat surprisingly, the dogs had the most difficulty in the first test, discriminating the lung cancer patient samples from those of healthy people. The total number of correct results from the four dogs was 22 versus 18 false results.

Accuracy was much better in the second phase, with the dogs correctly identifying 32 samples from the COPD and lung cancer patients against eight false results.

Results were better still in the third test, with 19 correct results and only one incorrect.

Overall, the sensitivity for detecting lung cancer was 71% overall (95% CI not reported). There was little difference in accuracy according to disease stage, the researchers indicated: All samples from the sole stage I patient had positive results in the sniff test. Accuracy rates for other disease stages were:

  • 75% for stage IIa
  • 75% for stage IIb
  • 94% for IIIa
  • 75% for stage IIIb
  • 63% for stage IV

The dogs varied somewhat in their ability to sniff out cancer accurately, with one dog scoring 68% of samples correctly while another had 84% correct results (kappa statistic 0.436).

Specificity overall was 93% (95% CI not reported).

Walles and colleagues also calculated “corporate dog decision” accuracy by counting as accurate only those results on which three of the four dogs gave the same result. Sensitivity of these group decisions was 72% (95% CI 51% to 88%), with specificity of 94% (95% CI 87% to 98%).

The researchers determined as well that the dogs were as accurate in classifying smokers versus nonsmokers, indicating that the animals were not simply responding to tobacco-related breath components.

Because their study ruled out a role in the results for smoking and certain other potential confounders, the current study is an advance over previous research on dog sniff tests for cancer.

It “confirms the existence of a stable marker (or scent pattern) that is strongly associated with lung cancer and independent of COPD,” Walles and colleagues wrote, “reliably discriminated from tobacco smoke, food odors and (potential) drug metabolites.”

Whether dogs will ultimately be better than machines for breath analysis remains to be determined, they indicated.

“Electronic nose technologies” are not yet practical because of their complicated sampling procedures and vulnerability interference, the researchers commented.

Dogs, on the other hand, are “virtually on the verge of respectability” for disease detection. Yet without better understanding of what they are responding to, it will be impossible to develop a reliable screening test for lung cancer based on their abilities, Walles and colleagues suggested.

“Unfortunately, dogs cannot communicate the biochemistry of the scent of cancer,” they lamented.

By John  Gever, Senior Editor, MedPage Today
Published: August 18, 2011

Pet Chauffeur Tries to Adapt to Tough Economy

The recession has not been kind to the pet industry. While their finances are in flux, pet owners are less likely to splurge on toys or grooming, and fewer vacations spell empty kennels at the boarding house. In fact, prospective owners are less likely to take on the financial burden of a new dog or cat to begin with.

As you can see in the video above, David Lang, owner of a Manhattan business called Pet Chauffeur, is keenly aware of these challenges. Fifteen years ago, Mr. Lang noticed that the subway system’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 dogs’ 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.

The bulk of Pet Chauffeur’s $1 million annual revenue comes from its business in New York City, but its vans have traveled as far as Florida, and the company also coordinates the shipping of animals by air. Because many of his customers live in Manhattan’s tonier neighborhoods, Mr. Lang hopes to sell ad space on his vans to luxury retailers. “I got vans running up and down Fifth Avenue all day long,” he said. “Who wouldn’t want their perfume on top of a Pet Chauffeur?”

Despite these plans, Mr. Lang is wary of expansion. He used to run a boarding service and a pet supply retail Web site, both of which failed to weather the recent recession. He now concentrates all of his effort on transportation and has adapted his company to the new economic context in two ways: first, he targets high-end customers. In 2008, he came to the conclusion, “now’s the time to get rid of the people who don’t want to pay for our service anyway, and up the price, and go with the high-end people that want our service.”

Pet Chauffeur’s other post-recession adaptation is to collaborate with competitors. If Mr. Lang is unable to arrange a pick-up for a customer, he will refer that person to other companies Because the pet taxi industry represents such a niche service, Mr. Lang said, he’d “rather see someone go with the other guy than not go at all.” Mr. Lang added: “Anyway, we’ve got the best service, so they’ll come back to us in the end.” 

Looking After Your Dogs’ Paws this Winter

How are you and your beloved pooches faring so far during this snow storm?  Several feet of snow have been dropped on the City already and it doesn’t look like it is going to let up for a while. 

While grit sprinkled on the sidewalks make it easier for humans to get around, the salt and chemicals it contains are terrible for dogs’ paws.  The salt dries them out and can cause burning, cracks or blisters which can lead to infections.

There are several things you can do to prevent this:

  • Keep an eye on your dogs’ pads.  Check for any cracks, soreness or blisters and get them treated by a veterinarian immediately if you discover any.
  • If your dog’s feet aren’t in need of medical treatment, ensure that when you go out you protect them with a heavy duty barrier such as Mushers Secret. Developed in Canada for use on sledding dogs, this product is fantastic for dogs’ paws as it provides both the protection and comfort they need in harsh weather such as ours.  
  • Wash off your dogs’ paws thoroughly when you get home.  Firstly this will ensure that any grit or ice that may be stuck between their toes gets washed away therefore preventing any ongoing damage to their pads. Secondly, if your dogs paws have come into contact with de-icing chemicals and they lick them, this could result in diarrhoea and vomiting.
  • Some people prefer to protect their dogs’ paws with dog boots.  These are a great option as dogs lose a lot of their temperature through their paws.  Investing in a pair of boots will help your dog retain body heat and reduce the risk of hypothermia.  As dogs do not normally wear shoes this may take your pooch some getting used to.  To help them out, let them practice wearing the boots around the house for a bit just to make the transition easier.

If, however, you would rather your dog didn’t walk around in such heavy snow, Pet Chauffeur will be more than happy to take your beloved pooch anywhere in the City that they need to go.  Just give us a call!

At an Indoor Pet Spa, Why Let the Dogs Out?

By Julie V. Iovine
11/19/2000

  
“DON’T overlook the pet industry. It’s big!” said David Lang, the owner of Pet Chauffeur, as he swiveled around at a red light and pointed a digital camera at the two Labradors drooling in the back seat of his bright orange minivan. ”Can I put them on my new Web site?”
Four years ago, Mr. Lang was the delivery guy for a pet store. Today he operates a five-minivan livery service with six drivers on call to drive the city’s most well-heeled dogs to their increasingly hectic weekly rounds of acupuncture, swim therapy, massage and grooming appointments. Pet Chauffeur even drove a miniature schnauzer to Atlanta recently for a man who refused to put his pet on an airplane. The dog’s trip cost $1,736. The man flew.

If the word of advice for ”The Graduate” in 1967 was ”plastics,” in 2000, think ”dogs.” There are 55 million pet dogs in the United States, and 43 percent of owners celebrated their dogs’ birthdays with a wrapped gift. So says an American Animal Hospital Association 1999 Pet Owner Survey that also found that 84 percent of pet owners referred to themselves as their animal’s mom or dad.

On Wednesday, Mr. Lang was dropping a couple of dogs off at the opening party for Biscuits and Bath Doggy Village at 227 East 44th Street. It’s the latest in extreme dog services that have many dog-lovers panting for more, and the rest of the population aghast. ”A lot of people are deluding themselves that animals have the same agendas and appreciations as themselves,” said Dr. Nicholas Dodman, the author of ”The Dog Who Loved Too Much” and ”Dogs Behaving Badly,” both published by Bantam. He noted that turning pets into surrogate children is the natural outcome of younger couples’ delaying reproduction and empty-nesters’ trying to keep a few warm dependent bodies around. ”The fact is that pets are now regarded as family, and people want to do anything they can for them,” he added.

But for every $450 cashmere dog sweater with a Gucci logo, and every bottle of Oh My Dog perfume now on holiday display at Saks, there also seems to be a new enlightened veterinary office or health center like Bonnie’s K9, which opened this fall in Chelsea offering underwater massage to ease the pain of dogs with cancer. The new Biscuits and Bath Doggy Village treads the line between excess and amenity. Petophobes, steer clear.

Housed in a former carriage house, the Doggy Village is a Health and Racquet Club for dogs and cats. Annual memberships start at $1,000. Lunch is available for both humans and dogs.

The village spreads over five floors, each with a greensward of AstroTurf the size and length of two bowling alleys. ”Why not have a wonderful place where people can play with their dogs freely and learn to be a better parent?” said Sandy Zuchert, the co-founder, with her sons Robert Zuchert and John Ziegler, of the 28,000-square-foot facility that cost $1.3 million to renovate.

The decor is Pet Provencal, possibly in honor of the French, who treat their dogs like full citizens of the state. There are white-washed picket fences around the plastic greens, bleached red-tile floors, blue-and-white striped awnings, a cafe around a gazebo, and strategically placed cement sculptures of dogs and cats in playful postures. The 30-foot lap pool in the basement is decorated with hand-painted tiles featuring ducks. On a tour, the two Labradors didn’t notice the birds. ”But did you see the cabana where we’ll blow-dry the doggies’ hair by hand?” Ms. Zuchert asked, as she bent over to greet one of the Labs with a mouth-to-mouth kiss reminiscent of a similarly riveting one in the movie ”Something About Mary.”

Though Ms. Zuchert, 62, compares the place most often to Central Park without restraint laws, it is also a day care and overnight boarding facility. Cats are kept in a neonatal-like ward with cages overlooking an aquarium and a wicker rocking chair. Ms. Zuchert calls it the ”kitty condos.” Drop-off dogs are taken outside every two hours to relieve themselves. While the two Labs were terrified of the steep stairs and their claws grated on the tile floors, they bounded happily out onto the turf. The indoor pool was another story. There was no way they were going to take a dip — too claustrophobic and redolent of chlorine for a couple of outdoor dogs with webbed feet.

Doggy Village is to a kennel what Ian Schrager’s Hudson is to Midtown hotels. Social chemistry will be everything. The restaurant on the top floor is meant to be a scene. Les Deux Magots in Paris it’s not, but there are intimate little tables with metal chairs gathered around a gazebo where humans can buy snack meals for themselves and organic treats for their pets while they all watch each other frolic. There are plans for book readings, parties and ”lectures for children on neutering,” Ms. Zuchert said. Animal education by way of puppy-training classes and behavior modification courses will be promoted in a big way. A veterinary doctor will be on the premises, available by appointment.

There will be agility classes — the latest update on show-off Frisbee throwing to golden retrievers in bandanas. It’s a workout: dogs race through a course, part steeple, part military obstacle. They slalom, they jump, they balance on see-saws, run through tubes, over ramparts, under bars and burst through something that looks like a collapsed parachute. The two guest Labs watched in muted horror, their tales stiff, while a visiting vizsla went berserk with anticipation. Andrea Arden, a professional dog trainer who will be conducting the classes, said any able-bodied dog can learn in a few months. Six group lessons cost $300.

Doggy Village is a vastly expanded version of the Zucherts’ Biscuits and Bath Gym at 1535 First Avenue and the Biscuits and Bath boutique, a much smaller operation focused on grooming at 255 East 74th Street. But it was Ms. Zuchert’s son John who started the ball rolling in 1990 with a dog-walking business he ran after graduating from high school. ”I was modeling and acting at the time and kind of neurotic about my dog,” Mr. Ziegler, 29, said. One day he tailed the dog walker to see if she would go to Central Park, where she was supposed to go. (”Don’t you ever follow your dog walker?” he asked.) Instead, she took his dog into a nearby building. ”I knew I could do much better than that,” Mr. Ziegler said. Last year, Biscuits and Bath Gym listed 800 paying members.

Part of the business is a nonprofit rescue fund. Stray dogs and cats on death row at the Center for Animal Control and Care will be brought in monthly for visits and cleaned up in the hopes of finding the animals homes. ”You go into the shelters and the animals are terrified and running around,” Mr. Ziegler said. ”Who’s going to take these dirty cyclones? Here, they’ll look clean and smell good. It’ll give them a chance to meet someone who really wants them.”

There were several homeless dogs at the opening party on Wednesday. A television crew milled around the cafe’s gazebo in anticipation of a ”wedding” to be staged between two former strays, Max and Cinder. The bitch wore an outfit donated by Vera Wang. Bruce Hammer, an onlooker who keeps his dog on Long Island, appeared touched. ”I foresee not just dogs getting married,” he said, ”but people getting married who meet while watching their dogs right here.” Unmoved, the two Labs yanked their leashes and headed for the door.

A Cab For Your Lab

By David Serchuk     See full size image
05/04/2003

Owner David Lang started Pet Chauffeur four years ago with one goal: to create a recession-proof business.

At the time, Lang delivered prescription pet food for high-end veterinarians. The vets told Lang their clients lacked transport for their animals around Manhattan. Lang was surprised. “I didn’t even know there was a problem with it,” he said, “because I didn’t live in Manhattan.”

Lang realized that no matter the economy, people spend money on their pets. Then he took a closer look at his clientele and realized their problem: Few city pet owners drive and fewer cabs take Labrador retrievers.

For Lang, it made sense. If it’s hard for you to get a cab, try getting one for you and a rottweiler. Not to mention that most cab drivers won’t take any animals becuase the animals might “do business” in the car, he said.

Also, many cabbies have issues with pooch passengers.

“If you ask them, they’ll say dogs are dirty, and we will not put dogs in our car,” he said, adding, “I love it that they hate them.”

In just four years, Pet Chauffeur has gone from one van to 11, and the company’s 20 employees ferry from 20 to 40 people and pets daily.

Their orange vans carry animals either in crates or roaming in the back. Animals can also go with or without their owner.

Business has grown steadily. Lang said the company had $480,000 in total sales in 2002, up 20 percent from 2001.

Pet Chauffeur charges $25 for a trip of one to 40 Manhattan blocks, $30 for 40 to 80 blocks and $35 for 80 to 120 blocks.

One reason for the company’s good health, Lang noted, is that his clients are among the wealthiest New Yorkers. Robert De Niro and his Burmese mountain dog are regulars. Janeane Garofalo, Sean “P.Diddy” Combs and Janet Jackson also use the company.

Non-celebs use it, too. Bruno Lauder and his large poodle, Indi, use Pet Chauffeur to ferry them from his Manhattan home to his Queens business daily.

Last year, Lauder spent $12,000 with the company. Lauder uses Pet Chauffeur because Indi gets car sick, and the company’s drivers are trained to drive smoothly. “David spends a lot of time explaining to them that they cannot be race drivers when you drive animals around,” Lauder said.

While 90 percent of Lang’s business is dog owners, he will transport any animal. A giant bearded dragon lizard was a customer – in a crate the size of a coffin – as were a pair of chimpanzees.

Now Lang wants to expand. Last summer, the firm did long-distance pet-relocation drives on a trial basis, with a pair of bulldogs going to L.A. for $6,100

Pet Chauffeur also has gotten into international animal shipping. After September 11, this has become tougher since airlines investigate every package.

The company does all the paperwork and even books the tickets for its customers. This might seem excessive, but as Lang knows, some pet owners will do anything for their pets. Or at least pay someone else to.

New York Pets | Dog days

NEW YORK

Paws are no longer good enough for the Big Apple’s streets
 
IF YOU, as a human, think it is hard to hail a cab in New York , just imagine what it is like if you are a dog. Or, to be more precise, imagine what it was like, because now New York dogs have acquired what they have been panting for since the city began: a pet chauffeur.

Like many clever businesses, this one emerged from a customer’s most desperate need. A decade ago, David Lang bought an old station wagon and began delivering food and medicine from vets to their clients. Before long, veterinarians were requesting Mr. Lang to do a return trip with ailing pets. So Pet Chauffeur was born.

New York swarms with dogs that have wealthy absentee owners. Mr. Lang fills the gap, and it is a very, very, large gap. His old station wagon has been junked, replaced by a fleet of seven specially equipped mini-vans (with dog seatbelts). Given a moment of free time, an eighth would be added.

Mr. Lang’s office resembles a war room. The front wall is taken up by a vast erasable white board, staffed by two employees who constantly rub out and add new requests to each driver’s schedule. Telephones ring constantly. Mornings and evenings are always packed, as is lunchtime, as are rainy days (when, Mr. Lang says, it really does rain cats and dogs). Conversations with Mr. Lang, beyond a few key questions to confirm street and time, are impossible.
 
He has 10,000 clients, including many celebrities (dog confidentiality precludes disclosing their names), and more are constantly being added.

Medical runs to the vet are now just a tiny part of the business. Several owners use Pet Chauffeur to commute with their dogs to work in fancy midtown offices. An extensive dog social network also exists. They are picked up for afternoon “play-dates” with friends, or for dog birthday parties (Pet Chauffeur provides cakes). For dogs lacking close friends, there are more than a dozen designated dog parks in the city where new acquaintances are usually available, and Pet Chauffeur knows them all. Two days a week, it runs a shuttle to a dog resort in a suburb. And, for those hot days, it frequently transports clients to a dog pool on Ninth Avenue .

Naturally, competition has emerged, but such is the demand that the various firms work together during peak hours, referring customers. Prices are, inevitably higher than for the average human, but of course, to the owners, these passengers are more valuable. They begin at more than $30 for a short hop, and can reach $200 for a trip from Manhattan to Newark airport. None of his riders, says Mr. Lang, eve complains.