Feb 9, 2004 Las Vegas SUN by Lisa Ferguson
Dogged by Love
The idea of a pet stroller invokes images of aged, fur-clad ladies pushing their spoiled shiatsus in Victorian prams, but that’s hardly fair to Lise King’s eminently practical invention.

Able to haul animals weighing up to 50 pounds, Ms. King’s pet strollers are designed for owners of mid-size dogs — or enormous cats — and are more likely to be used by the straphanger set.

“It’s a wonderful vehicle for people who live in cities, where they have to take their cats to the vet in those heavy, awkward carriers,” said Ms. King, adding that the strollers are useful for transporting pets that are old or injured.

The canvas-and-mesh kennels are mounted on a steel frame with wheels, and pass the Metropolitan Transportation Authority’s rules requiring pets to be “carried in kennels or similar containers.” The kennel is removable for off-road carrying.

Ms. King’s Kittywalk Systems has sold 10,000 strollers and done $1.5 million in business in just 18 months.

She said PetCo stores in New York asked to stock the strollers as soon as possible, because they’ve been “bombarded” with requests.

The original strollers, which costs $129 each, were sold out from March to November. The return to the shelves included the addition of the second model, to hold mid-sized pets.

With it’s increased carrying capacity, knobby-rubber wheels, and stronger frame, the Pet Stroller SUV is designed to handle snow and dirt and comes with a $159 price tag.

The stroller weighs 22 pounds, so the owner of a 45-pound dog would be pushing 67 pounds of steel and animal on New York’s streets. Always looking at the next horizon, Ms. King plans to introduce the Big Dog Street Surfer at the Backer Pet Expo in Atlantic City in April. Intended to help transport even larger pets,the new model will come with a ramp for getting up and down steps or into and out of cars.

The owner of Spot, a pet store in Chelsea, Joe Bransom, said he sells 10 to 15 strollers a week.

“It stops people dead in their tracks when they walk by the store,” he said. “There is a niche market out there for people who need this kind of product.”

But what do the pets think?

Alice Maass, an upstate New York customer, said her cat “loves it. He jumped right in.” Ms. King’s own cats, a 2-year-old female and a 5-year-old male, are the testers for all of her pet products. Both seem to like the stroller. “Cats are like kids, they love to go for a ride,” she said.

A native New Yorker and veteran inventor, Ms. King came up with the idea two years ago when she was faced with herding her cats — she often took the elder for walks, and the younger wanted to come along.

“I couldn’t put them both in harnesses. She would walk one way, he would walk the other, and one of them might slip out,” she said.

So, she bought a cheap stroller, cut out some of the material, and installed netting over the top, for the first working model.

Ms. King has been inventing all her life and holds several patents, though her pet products are the first to turn a profit. She still works for a catalog production firm on Long Island.

She started her company with the Kittywalk System, a mesh “habitrail for animals” that allows indoor cats to go outside and be protected from bugs or other animals by a mesh enclosure.

PAMPERED PET Little Misuka, a Ragdoll cat, is settled in and ready to roll in her Pet Stroller

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