“My dog sits still most of the time and does not need a car restraint when traveling.”
“My dog would never allow me to restrain him in the car.”
“I don’t go on long trips, so I don’t need to buckle my dog up when traveling.”
Do any of the above questions apply to you? If so, you are not in the minority. According to the 2011 AAA/Kurgo Pet Passenger Safety Survey, 84 percent of respondents bring their dogs on car trips but do not use a restraint. I sheepishly bow my head and admit to falling in that 84 percent now and again for the “short trip to the park” treks we make just about daily.
In July of 2012, the Center for Pet Safety ran a series of videos from its pilot study of the “crash-worthiness” of canine automotive restraints. They report a third-party independent test lab, MGA Research Corporation, tested a variety of pet harnesses to the conditions of the Federal Motor Vehicle Safety Standard 213 for child safety restraints.
The results were a complete failure — for ALL restraints tested. Four harnesses were tested in the control group, and every time there were multipoint failures. At one point, the videos reveal a complete separation from the connection point; another shows an instance of complete decapitation of the test (dummy) dog as a result of the harness moving upward on impact. In its press release, the Center for Pet Safety reported, “no protection would be provided to either the dog or to vehicle occupants in similar crash conditions.”
The Woman Behind the Wheel
I met the founder of the Center for Pet Safety, Lindsay Wolko, at the BlogPaws Conference in 2013. I learned so much from her there. As a dog mom who has been traveling the country and her neighborhood with dogs for over 20 years, I was and remain, very disturbed by the findings.
Lindsay’s interest in pet safety began when her dog Maggie was injured by a safety harness in 2004 a mission began that lead to 8 years of consumer and pet products industry research. In 2011, after completing a ground-breaking pilot study, she founded the Center for Pet Safety.
She is best known for founding the Center for Pet Safety (CPS), a non-profit research and consumer advocacy organization dedicated to consumer and companion animal safety.
What the Center Does for Pet Safety
Using scientific testing and Federal Motor Vehicle Safety Standard specifications, the Center for Pet Safety studies pet products and establish criteria and test protocols to measure whether pet safety products provide the protection claimed by advocates and intended by the manufacturer.
- We conduct rigorous crash testing on commonly available pet safety products using realistic, specially designed, crash test dogs.
- Although CPS does not directly impact legislation, our organization advocates for meaningful standards leading to safer products that protect animals and improve travel safety for everyone in the vehicle.
But they must be associated with some company, right? NOPE! They do not use live animals in the crash testing, are not affiliated with the pet product industry, and they do not endorse products.
Did You Know?
Is Any Harness Safe?
In their 2013 Harness Crashworthiness Study, the Center for Pet Safety’ Top Performer was the Sleepypod Clickit Utility. You can read all about that study here, see video crash testing on testers, and actual results:
What Should Dog Parents Do?
Other than the Sleepypod Clickit Utility, alternative options include a crate or kennel, a car seat (such as a booster seat), or a car barrier designed to block off a section of the vehicle. I know of someone who was in an accident with her two medium-sized dogs and credits a floor-to-ceiling metal gate with saving the lives of her dogs when her vehicle was rear-ended.
Pet owners may purchase Sleepypod’s Clickit Utility Harness on www.sleepypod.com. Subaru will also be offering these harnesses for purchase through its Subaru Gear catalog and at dealers in the near future. (we are not being endorsed to say nor share this).
Wolko cautions consumers to investigate claims that a pet travel product has been crash-tested. Is there a video you can watch? If so, does the video show the entire crash sequence: acceleration, impact and the impact’s aftermath? If you can’t find that information, don’t believe the claims. Sleepypod carriers and Variocage crates are two examples of products whose crash-test videos demonstrate what consumers should look for when a product claims to be crash-tested. (this information gleaned from blogs.cars.com)
For me, I sit Driving Miss Daisy-style most times in the car, as a family member drives with me and my harnessed pooch in the back seat. No doubt, millions of them are traveling with their pet parents, restrained and unrestrained.
QUESTION: Do you restrain your dog when traveling? Do tell…..
Note: I have nothing to gain other than helping to save the lives of dogs by sharing this information. We plan to invest in a Sleepypod Clickit Utility and will provide video review when we do so. I am also participating in the DogFenceDIY Safety Tips 2014 Round Up, which you are welcome to visit and learn more dog safety tips.