Safety First, Make it a Secure Ride

By Allison Insana, Coastal Pet Products

Most parents would not let their child (or any passenger) ride in the car without wearing a seatbelt; yet they often allow their dogs to do so. Unfortunately, transporting pets safely is something many dog owners don’t think about until it’s too late.

In some states (Hawaii and Connecticut), driving with a dog in your lap is illegal, while in others, such as Arizona and Maine, a loose-in-the-vehicle dog can be grounds for a distracted driving ticket. Despite the acknowledged safety hazards of driving with an unrestrained dog, only 28 percent of dog owners use some type of restraint to secure their dog in the car, according to the APPA National Pet Owners Survey, 2013-2014. 

Restricting a dog’s movement in vehicle is an important safety concern. Many automobile accidents are caused when drivers are distracted by their dogs climbing into their laps or under their feet or ricocheting around in the backseat. An unrestrained 10-lb. dog in a 30-mph crash exerts approximately 300 lb. of force; an 80-lb. dog exerts 2,400 lb., according to AAA. That much force can cause a lot of damage to the dog, the driver and the car.

In addition, if the dog isn’t severely hurt, he could try to protect his owner and keep medical personnel from being able to assist.

There are a wealth of harnesses and restraints on the market today. The key difference between a vehicle harness and a walking harness is how well the devices restrain and protect the dog in the event of an accident.

One company that offers a range of product is Coastal Pet Products. Independent safety crash testing was conducted on the Easy Rider® Car Harness to ensure dogs would be safe while traveling in an automobile, according to Coastal Pet Products. The harness can be looped through with a seatbelt and has metal hardware at stress points to help ensure strength, comfort and protection.

Coastal also offers a selection of Travel Right!® seatbelt safety products. These include: the Safety Loop, which is a limited -freedom safety restraint that makes any car safety harness easy to connect to the seatbelt; the Safety Anchor, which affords dogs moderate mobility in the backseat via an adjustable strap that controls the range of movement; and the Seat Belt Safety Tether, which provides the maximum level of freedom for the dog. The owner has the choice of attaching the Safety Tether to the left and right seatbelt clips or to one seatbelt clip and the center seat belt clip for a little less mobility.

Whether you’re a trainer, pet sitter, groomer or veterinary assistant, educating pet owners on the importance of in-vehicle restraint for their dogs, no matter how short the trip will be, is essential to ensuring their pets remain happy and whole.

Editor’s Note: There are currently no national standards for crash-testing vehicle safety harnesses for dogs. While all in-vehicle harnesses can restrict a dog’s movement, not all can withstand the resulting force of an accident. ABC recommends checking a harness’ crash-test results before purchase.

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