Dog taxis: A winning business idea

Dog taxis: A winning business idea

Pet-friendly services are untapped business opportunities that want-to-be entrepreneurs are beginning to explore.

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Chauffeur - Driven animals by Sukhumaporn Laiyok

dog taxiThitiphan Rukchat is a true pet lover. He now has 20 dogs and more than 30 cats in his care. He also feeds dozens of street dogs to ensure they survive each day. 

Thitiphan has been through a lot of bad experiences, especially when his dogs were sick or hurt. One of the biggest problems was to find transport to carry his injured pets to a veterinary hospital

I have many dogs. They are quite big and wild. When they get sick, they have bad breath and a strong smell. Worse, old dogs also have urinary dysfunction. So they are flatly rejected by normal taxi drivers," he said.

After talking to pet owners, Thitiphan found most of them shared a similar transport problem and he saw a great business opportunity.

Thitiphan told mylife [section in Bangkok Post newspaper] that his family had a food kiosk close to the Royal Forest Department selling single-dish food. Trade was slow, so he decided to embark on a new business - a pet taxi service.

With his meagre savings, he equipped an automobile to provide transport for pets getting treatment at Kasetsart Veterinary Teaching Hospital. He based his service in front of the hospital and after just one month things began to take off.

"It was unbelievable," he recalled. "Requests were overwhelming, I couldn't handle them all.

Consequently, Thitiphan decided to get more serious. He discussed his plan with Kasetsart Veterinary Teaching Hospital's authority figures in order to rent space for an office.

Setting up in front of the hospital was not allowed so I wanted to do the right thing. After a month's trial, I was given the green light," he said.

Door to door service

In the early years, Thitiphan charged a flat rate decided on by mutual agreement. Later, the rate was standardised in line with "human" taxi fares

Thitiphan can now transport pets to and from their appointments, not only with the hospital but also with groomers, pet day care and emergency rooms nationwide. However, he calculates the fare different ways.

We work as a company. And we pay the hospital for space rental. We're not attached to the hospital," he said.

When a customer calls, a driver is dispatched at no charge. Once the pets hop on the automobile, charges will then begin.

Owners are requested to pay for a small extra charge according to the pet's weight, 20 baht for less than 20kg and 40 baht for over 20kg. This charge is restricted to the Bangkok Metropolis. Right now the company owns a fleet of six vans.

We are very busy early morning. I recommend customers make a reservation one day in advance.

The taxis usually transport big breeds of dog such as rottweiler, St Bernard and golden retriever.

Transport to or from upcountry is charged at a flat rate. For instance, it costs 2,200 baht to take pets from Pattaya to a hospital in Bangkok and send them back home.

We once sent a golden retriever back home to Phuket, with a charge of 7,000 baht.

In addition to the taxi service, Thitiphan transports pets by air. He explained that pet lovers often buy new puppies through the internet and they need someone to collect the dogs from the breeder and bring them safely home.

Over such a long distance, we recommend owners transport their dogs by plane. The charge is much cheaper. We charge an extra 300 baht for documentation at the airport," he said.

...Our main business is the pet taxi service, but it hasn't made a fortune. After deductions for fuel, maintenance and wages, we get about 600-700 baht per day per car," Thitiphan said.

We needed to add more pet care services in order to support the transport business.

Capital is indispensable for any kind of business. To expand his services, Thitiphan needed to find a loan shark.

He got about 2 million baht in debt and he had to pay high interest every month.

I tried to get a bank loan, but I couldn't because I don't have credit history," he said.

[For the rest of the article, please go to the Bangkok Post website here.]
(Source: Bangkok Post, My Life section, Chauffeur - Driven animals, Thitiphan Rukchat is taking pet care into the streets, 14/10/2010, Sukhumaporn Laiyok, link

chauffeur - a driver for a rich person  คนขับรถยนต์
ensure - to make certain that something happens or is done รับรอง, ให้ความมั่นใจ, ให้การยืนยัน
survive - to stay alive and continue to exist after a difficult or dangerous situation รอดพ้น, อยู่รอด สืบต่อไปได้, มีชีวิตรอด
transport - to move people or things from one place to another ขนส่ง
veterinary - relating to the care of animals that are ill or injured
untapped - not used yet

urine (noun) - liquid human waste  น้ำปัสสาวะ
urinary (adjective) - related to urine and the boy's system of cleaning and getting rid of it with tubes and kidney
dysfunction -
a failure to work correctly or well
reject -
 to not agree to something like an offer, request, proposal ปฏิเสธ
flatly rejected -
reject completely (without any second thoughts or discussion)
opportunity - a situation when it is possible to do something that you want to do (See glossary) โอกาส
kiosk -
a very small shop in a public place selling things like food, drinks or newspapers and magazines
embark - start doing something, go on board a ship
meagre - very small amount จำนวนน้อยมาก
equip (verb) - to provide a person or group with the things they need for some task or job (or some other purpose)
(noun) - the tools and machines you need for some job, task or activity
provide - to give someone something that they want or need
treatment - the process of providing medical care การรักษา
recalled - remembered นึกทบทวน จำได้
handle - deal with and work on a task in order to complete the task, or solve the problem

authority - the power to make decisions or tell people what to do,  the power to control people and eventsอำนาจ, อำนาจในการสั่งการ
authority figures - the people with official power in an organizatio to make decisions and give orders
rent - to pay money for the use of something for a period of time เช่า
trial - testing it out (before making it permanent), a test, usually over a limited period of time, to discover how effective or suitable something or someone is การทดลอง, การทดสอบ

in line with - following, agreeing with
door to door service - the service of bringing you from the door of your home to the door of the place you want to go to (a shop, friend's home, workplace, etc)
flat rate - one price with no additional charges added
mutual - felt or done in the same way by each of two or more people ร่วมกัน
mutual agreement - when two people agree to do something a certain way

appointment - an arrangement to see a person at a certain time, usually for a  business arrangement or to receive some service (example: make an appointment to get a haircut) การนัดพบ, การนัดหมาย
groomer - a person whose job is to cut and style the hair of dogs
day care - the service for parents of looking after a child (or here: dog) during the day while their parents are at work
emergency - an unexpected situation involving danger in which immediate action is necessary เหตุฉุกเฉิน
emergency rooms - the area of hospitals that treat people have medical problems that need immediate attention (can't wait for treatment, for example: accidents or life-threatening situations like heart attacks)
nationwide - throughout a whole country ทั่วทั้งประเทศ
calculate - to find out what a number is by using math and a calculator คำนวณ
fare - the price of going to some place in a taxi, bus, train, etc
dispatch - send
charge - amount of money paid for something, a payment that has to be made for something เงินที่เรียกเก็บ
hop - move by jumping on all or two of its feet at the same time กระโดด
restricted - limited ถูกจำกัด,ถูกจำกัดวง
fleet - a group of ships (ขบวนเรือ) cars, trucks or other form of transportation 

reservation - an arrangement where someone keeps something (hotel room, restaurant or airplane seat) for you to use on some date in the future การจอง
recommend - to advise someone that they should do something แนะนำ
breeds - different types of animals สายพันธุ์
breeder -  a person who as a business raises animals so that they can give birth to more animals which can in turn be sold for money 
charge - money that must be paid for some good or service
charged at a flat rate - paying one amount (without extra amounts or charges added depending on service you get)
upcountry - outside of Bangkok, in the provinces

documentation - paperwork; documents used for proving that something is true or correct งานเอกสาร
fortune - a lot of money that a rich person has, wealth
deduction - a reduction by a certain amount (example: a deduction from your paycheck for taxes you owe the government)
fuel - gas for his car or other vehicle
maintenance - the act of keeping something in good condition by checking or repairing it regularly การซ่อมบำรุง
wages - the amount of money earned per hour by a worker
transport - moving things or people from one place to another (by car, bus, train, plane, etc) ขนส่ง
support - help, by giving money, for example สนับสนุน
capital - money invested in a business
dispense (verb) - throw away, get rid of
dispensable (adjective) - don't need it
indispensable (adjective) - need it very much, cannot do without
loan sharks -
people who offer loans at high interest rates often backed by violence or blackmail (See Wikipedia)
expand - to become larger ขายตัวออกไป
loan - an amount of money that a person, business, or country borrows, especially from a bank เงินกู้
debt - an amount of money that you owe หนี้
interest - payments made for the use of another's money for a period of time
credit - loans
credit history - the record of whether you have paid back loans in the past (banks check this to make sure it is safe to give you a loan)

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