In much of the United States dogs are like family members and as such they routinely ride in the family car to the supermarket, to watch the kids at Little League games or on trips to the local dog park. I know that my dog Daisy Mae travels with me everywhere I go in the many cars, trucks and SUVs I test each week. That is why I incorporate “dog friendliness” testing into every review I write.
But dog friendliness is much more than just how comfortable your dog is in the back seat or behind a metal grate in the cargo area. Dog friendliness also has to do with how safe your pet is when riding in your vehicle. The inspiration for this testing comes from the work of Christina Selter and her website BarkBuckleup.com.
BarkBuckleUp.com has long advocated the use of pet safety harnesses when riding in motor vehicles. According to Christina Selter, “safety belts can only work if you use them. That costs nothing but not using them can cost lives. Pets included.”
If you don’t believe a dog needs to be properly harnessed in when riding in the car just check out these very disturbing statistics. In 2008 nearly 6,000 pets died in car crashes and more than half a million were injured according to the NHTSA (National Highway Traffic Safety Administration). Currently less than 85% of drivers do not restrain their pets when riding in the car.
An unrestrained pet also poses a huge risk to drivers. In a 35 mile per hour crash a 60 lb. dog is capable of creating an impact of 2,700 pounds. Just imagine a dog hitting a driver in the back of the head with that level of brute force and it is easy to see that even a belted in driver would most likely not survive that accident.
Also, if a pet does survive a crash they will impede the work of any first responder fire, police of ambulance teams. These animals will be scared, hurt and will take away from the rescue of any human passengers. First responders nationwide have said, “any time lost in the caring of accident victims [due to] the need to deal with a frightened or injured animal can and should be avoided.”
So What Can You Do to Make Sure Your Pet is Safe?
BarkBuckleUp.com has now teamed up with The Dog Whisperer Cesar Milan to launch BeSmartRideSafe.com—a website that offers a free pet safety kit and information about keeping your dog safe when riding in the car. Be Smart/Ride Safe is also producing a series of Public Service Announcements with Cesar Milan to highlight the dangers of pets who ride unsecured in automobiles.
The very wise and hunky Cesar Milan had this to say about Be Smart/Ride Safe, “Pack leaders provide protection and direction. And when it comes to pet safety, protection is about prevention – that’s what this campaign is all about!”
So what can you do as a pet owner? Well, first you should invest in a pet safety harness that buckles into one of the receptors in the rear seat. Dogs should never ride on your lap or in the passenger seat as the airbags could easily kill them in a frontal impact. See, that isn’t so hard.
Be the Pack Leader!
When you set off in the car you always make sure that your whole family is secure in their seat belts or car seats. So why not make sure one of the most beloved members of the family is also securely belted in? You know that Cesar Milan would tell you this simple action is what any responsible and loving pack leader would do.