ASHLAND — When pets find their busy owners don't have time to take them to appointments, a bright yellow VW bug decorated as a taxi is ready to shuttle them around town.

ASHLAND — When pets find their busy owners don't have time to take them to appointments, a bright yellow VW bug decorated as a taxi is ready to shuttle them around town.

Miss Molly's Pet Taxi began service earlier this month. Owner Vicki Bamman says such services are available in larger cities.

"It's actually very convenient," said customer Melissa Abbott, whose 12-year-old shitzu-Lhasa apso mix, Angel, took the taxi to and from a grooming session. "I was definitely busy that day," added the single mother.

Karen Leitner used the service to transport her basenji, Sir Helios, to a veterinarian appointment on a day when her own car was in a shop for repairs.

"It worked out really well," said Leitner.

Both Angel and Sir Helios enjoyed the rides, their owners reported.

"I anticipate the business will be specific to groomers, veterinarian appointments and maybe the occasional trip to the airport," said Bamman. The business is named after Bamman's own dog, a terrier-mix mutt that she adopted from a shelter.

Bamman said the newer style VW Bug features a yellow taxi bubble on its roof.

Checkerboard black and white stripes adorn the car's sides with signage on the doors and rear deck lid. Three rear windows display portraits of pooches.

The bug's high rear ceiling and hatchback access make it easy to load pets in the rear, said Bamman.

Even large dogs can fit inside because the rear seat is folded down to provide additional space. A sling can be used to help hoist dogs with hip problems or other aliments into the taxi. There are several different size cages to accommodate dogs.

"If a dog wants to ride up front we have seatbelt attachments to keep them safe," said Bamman.

Pet Taxi doesn't discriminate against any species, Bamman added. She's open to taking cats, ferrets, reptiles, birds and anything else that can be put in a cage.

Rates in Ashland are $10 one-way, $15 round trip. Outside Ashland there is a surcharge of 50 cents per mile.

The taxi, Miss Molly, Bamman, Leitner, and Sir Helios were in the town's Fourth of July parade.

"Miss Molly waved at 20,000 people on the Fourth," said Bamman. "The response was incredible. People were calling out and waving back."

Bamman plans to expand the business to include an upscale doggie daycare and a "bed and biscuit" kennel operation. She's looking for a site in Ashland.

To schedule a ride call 864-9170.

Tony Boom is a freelance writer living in Ashland. Contact him at tboom8929@charter.net.