Honda’s dog-friendly car

Last week, Honda came out with a dog-friendly version of the Element SUV . Dog lovers across the US will soon be able to buy the spiffy, new ride fitted with a cushioned, dog bed in the trunk, a built-in water bowl, and a ramp for those short-legged canines in need of a booster.

The Japanese automaker clearly did its homework when designing the vehicle, keeping close tabs on pet safety and comfort while adding stress relief for concerned owners. The small pet haven includes easy to wash covers and a fitted dog bed with restraints (think seat belt for dogs!).

The price tag for the dog-friendly version of the Element is yet to be determined by Honda. The current model starts at $20,175 and can go up to $26,000 with all the features included.

Honda recruited the help of Sammy , a two-year-old mix-breed rescue dog, to unveil the latest automobile trend and warm the hearts of onlookers during the New York Auto Show last Thursday. The company offered Sammy’s human companion, Heather Cammisa of the Humane Society of the United States, the well-equipped ride for a two week test run.

Sammy actually needs a ramp. Before I adopted him he ended up at a shelter having been hit by a car and he needs that ramp,” said Cammisa to Reuters , “Otherwise I lift him to get into my car.”

The SUV targets what Honda spokesman Sage Marie calls the “dog-crazy consumers” who reportedly spend $41 billion a year on their pets. Since the figure is poised to rise up to $52 billion in two years, Honda is trying to stay ahead of the curve and tap into that market before competitors start figuring out the statistics.

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