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The dangers in all these pet travel Print

  • November 10, 2015

According to the last pet survey done by the AAA in 2011, 83 per cent of the respondents acknowledged not restraining their pets in vehicles.

We all remember the media frenzy and public uproar when Brittney Spears was photographed driving with her then infant son Sean Preston on her lap.

Yet, few of us bat an eye when dogs are seen on a driver’s lap, often with their paws on the steering wheel for balance. Not to mention canine passengers literally hanging out of windows or freely jumping around in the back of open pick-up trucks.

The dangers in all these pet travel scenarios are no different than having an unrestrained child on your lap or roaming free inside the vehicle.

Ultimately, unrestrained pets can be injured or killed in an accident, as well as cause injury or death to a vehicle’s human occupants. Further, in an accident, an unrestrained pet may be ejected or escape from the vehicle, becoming a danger to other motorists or could even be lost, injured or killed.

According to the American Automobile Association, unstrained pets in vehicles are a dangerous distraction that ranks alongside texting, hand-held cell-phone conversations and eating while driving. We always strap babies and children into special car seats and secure our luggage for safety. Pets must also be properly restrained for the safety of your loved ones.

It’s important to note that you don’t have to be traveling at high speeds for tragedy to strike. According to pet safety experts at Toyota, driving at a leisurely 35 mph and suddenly applying brakes can turn a 60-pound pet into a 2,700-pound projectile!

In some states, restraining your pet is the law! While many states have laws and fines related to driver distraction, only a handful of states actually have legislation in place that directly targets unrestrained pets in vehicles.

Connecticut, California, New Hampshire, Massachusetts, Nevada, Washington, Oregon and Rhode Island have pet safety laws on the books that require pets to be restrained when transported in the back of pick-up trucks. While states such as Hawaii, Arizona, Connecticut and Maine ban driving with your pet on your lap. In New Jersey, improper pet transportation is a citable offense, with the interpretation left up to traffic officers.

Unfortunately, all too often, these laws are not enforced.


Excuses such as “my dog doesn’t like to sit in the back seat” or “my dog gets nervous when they are not next to me” are simply not acceptable. As a pet parent, you have options to safely restrain your pets in a vehicle. As a responsible pet parent, you are obligated to keep your pet and your family safe.

CRATES: The crash-tested all-steel Variocage, which is available in 14 sizes, is without a doubt the safest option. These are the only crates that have been crash-tested using government automotive safety standards to withstand front, rear and side impacts, as well as rollovers. Like your vehicle, they have a built-In crumple zone to absorb impact and reduce potential injury to occupants. Engineered by professional automotive crash test engineers in Sweden, Variocage has a perfect 12-year history of safety. Always remember, for optimal safety of pets and people, crates must be used and installed as per the manufacturer’s recommendations and instructions.

HARNESSES: A crash-tested harness, such as the AllSafe Harness, is another excellent option. This harness is designed to work with your vehicle’s standard seat belt system and to be comfortable for both short and long distance travel. Further, by hooking a leash to the AllSafe’s separate walking D-Ring, you can safely and easily remove your dog from the vehicle and quickly go on your way. Always remember, for optimal safety of pets and people, harnesses must be used and installed as per the manufacturer’s recommendations and instructions.

ZIP LINES: A special pet zip line can be set up in the back seat or the cargo section of an SUV. Dogs wearing a safety harness are attached to the line via a leash (which is attached to the harness.) A short leash will restrict their movement. However, a pet zip line cannot withstand the forces generated in an accident. This makes them a poor choice for safe pet travel.

BARRIERS: Secure, quality engineered cargo barriers, such as a Traffic Guard or VarioBarrier such as the Traffic Guard or VarioBarrier, add another level of protection by preventing a dog in the rear of a vehicle from causing a distraction or impacting the driver and passengers. Crash-tested barriers such as the VarioBarrier are unique since it can withstand the extreme forces generated during an accident and provide optimal safety.

CARRIERS: There are soft-sided carriers made from ballistic nylon available for smaller dogs and cats. However, these carriers are not crash tested. If you are traveling alone the safest place to put a soft carrier is on the floor behind the 1st row passenger seat. In this position, there is a minimal amount of space for the carrier to project forward should impact occur. However, you need to be aware of the fact that this may not protect your pet and could potentially cause serious injury to a passenger traveling in the front seat.

DOGGIE BOOSTER SEATS: The most common excuse given by pet parents for having a dog on their lap is “my dog likes to see out of the window.” For very small dogs, a crash-tested doggie booster seat placed in the 2nd row seat of a vehicle will give a small dog a great view and keep them restrained to prevent them from interfering with the driver. Unfortunately, booster seats are not crash rated for front, rear and rollover impacts so they still pose a risk with respect to passenger and pet safety. Regardless, you should never place a dog in any restraint or safety device on the front passenger seat. Airbags can be a lethal “weapon” for a pet traveling in your vehicle.

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