Update on Travel Safety for Dogs
Does your dog adore a car ride? Maybe he rides shotgun, or loves to hang his head out the rear window scenting the breeze. Your dog and you are in unnecessary danger the second you turn that ignition key, and this week’s article is your wake-up call.
A couple of years ago, I did an episode on car safety for dogs. In my research, I found that there wasn’t any independent testing of crates or any other safety devices. But I did find video of crate crash tests done by harness manufacturers, in which the crates pretty much fell apart on impact. On the basis of those videos I recommended safety harnesses over crates.
Not so fast. A new nonprofit, the Center for Pet Safety, which bills itself as an independent advocate for standardized safety testing of travel equipment, has tested four car harnesses for dogs. (The tests used dummy dogs, of course, not live animals.) Every harness failed. Let me repeat that: Every harness failed. They all failed spectacularly, and in one test the dummy dog was actually decapitated by the harness.
The Center for Pet Safety doesn’t reveal which harnesses it tested, a fact that has annoyed many online commenters. The center’s reasoning makes sense to me, however: “If we share brands at this early stage in our work, we shift the focus away from what is truly needed: measurable, safe standards that manufacturers can follow for the benefit of consumers.” In addition, it may be that if people know which harnesses failed, they’ll assume other harnesses are safe – which of course may not be the case.
Meanwhile, what’s a pet caretaker to do, besides leave Dogalini at home? There’s no good answer. I remain as concerned about the safety of travel crates as I was when I researched the original episode on this subject, and anyway I’m sure many people are in the same position as me and my wife: our car is too small for a crate my dog can travel in. Some restraint is safer than no restraint, since at least your dog can’t wander around the car while you’re driving. And, it goes without saying, drive carefully. No texting, no talking on the phone, and turn your headlights on if you need your wipers. I’ll be getting in touch with the Center for Pet Safety to find out more about this issue, and maybe you should, too.
Dogs in Car from Shutterstock