Pet ownership can be rewarding, but it can requires substantial work on the part of the pet owner.
Sometimes, people’s lives would be more compatible with a “timeshare” of a pet: taking care of it for a few hours a day, rather than 24/7. However, this arrangement is incompatible with most living situations.
The idea is to enable “partial ownership” of a pet by connecting the homes of the various owners via a tube network (like the pneumatic tubes that some banks still use, the tube transport system from the TV show Futurama, or a hamster “habitrail”). One proposed system for apartment-dwellers is shown in Fig. 1A.
With this tube system system, the pet can now wander between all eligible apartments at its leisure.
Most small pets would be compatible with this system, especially ones that are already used to traveling through tunnels / burrows (e.g. dachshunds, hamsters, snakes).
The system would work best in an apartment building, but it could also work in a suburban neighborhood (Fig. 2).
Details to be worked out:
Vertical travel through the tubes may require some consideration (perhaps a corkscrew / spiral staircase?). The pneumatic-tube method of conveying objects will clearly not work (most pets cannot tolerate an environment of zero atmospheric pressure).
PROS: Opens up a completely new style of responsible pet ownership.
CONS: Owners might have pets who are individually great, but have an unacceptable predator-prey relationship when allowed to mingle as a result of this tube system (e.g. cat + bird, goat + wolf + cabbage).