By Mike Pomranz
Updated March 21, 2016
Credit: © Danny Beattie Photography/Getty Images

New York City has become a lot more dog-friendly in the past year by loosening regulations and allowing patrons to dine with their pups at restaurants with outdoor patios. But whether or not an eatery allows dogs is still up to the owner’s discretion. And (as my wife constantly reminds me in the summer) not all restaurants have an outdoor space. The net result is that traveling with your dog in tow still greatly limits your options when it comes to making a pit stop.

A recent Brooklyn-based startup called Dog Parker wants to alleviate this problem. Its plan: Install “on-demand doghouses” for dogs up to 120 pounds all over the city to give pet owners a safe-place to stash their pup while running errands. The small kennels allow members to pay twenty cents a minute to lock their dogs outside places like delis and grocery stores while they pop inside, hoping to provide a safer option for pets other than simply tethering them up on the street where they could be injured or stolen. The little lockers can even be monitored from your smartphone.

But not everyone is sold on the idea, especially after the suggestion might be a good place to put your pup during longer outings like brunch. On Friday, Gothamist posted an article “Should You Lock Your Dog In This Tiny Jail Cell While You Brunch?” which elicited a terrible reaction in the comments section. In a New York Post article from last year, founder Chelsea Brownridge admitted that the idea for Dog Parker came to her when she couldn’t bring her dog to breakfast, though in the company’s defense, the idea of putting your dog on lockdown for an entire meal never comes up anywhere on their website; it’s more about shorter stops like doing some quick shopping.

However, Dog Parkers do allow member to keep their dogs inside the tiny spaces for up to three hours during every 12 hour period, a rule “based on NYC anti-tethering laws in which tethering is limited to three hours,” according to the company’s FAQ’s page, raising concerns that the lockers could be abused. Still, an irresponsible pet caretaker is going to be irresponsible with or without dog lockers. For most people who love their pets, Dog Parker seems like a potentially helpful option.

Maybe the website can simply post a reminder that dogs and unlimited mimosas don’t always mix.