Dogs love riding in cars; everyone knows it. Road trip? They’re in. Errands? Grab the keys and they’re at the door. Vet appointment? Well… Maybe not that, but if you give them any other chance to ride, they’re in heaven.
We, their human guardians, are in heaven, too — a furry companion at our side relaxes us and makes us feel safe. But shouldn’t we stop for a moment to make sure our animals are safe, too?
With 78 million dogs living in American households, it’s astonishing to learn that 80% of them ride unrestrained in vehicles. For us two-legged mammals, the buckle-up campaign has been a huge success — seat belt use has surged from only 11% in 1981 to nearly 85% by 2010. Seat belts saved 12,802 human lives in 2014. Meanwhile, countless animals are hurt or killed every year from riding unrestrained in vehicles.
During an accident, an unrestrained animal turns into a dangerous projectile. At only 20 mph, a tiny 10 pound dog exerts 200 pounds of force as he flies through the air into a windshield. At 35 mph, a 60 pound dog exerts a whopping 2,100 pounds of force. This is lethal.
Even under normal driving conditions, a roaming animal causes blind spots in the car and pulls the driver’s attention away from the road. Driving with unrestrained pets can be just as distracting as texting behind the wheel.
It’s time for us to extend the buckle-up campaign to also include our four-legged friends.
There are many different travel restraints out there for strapping in your companion animals, but the good people at Sleepypod were kind enough to donate a few of their harnesses and mobile beds to CAPS for us to test out. Sleepypod harnesses are so far the only brand that’s been certified by the Center for Pet Safety, and our rescue animals here at CAPS have been loving them.
The harnesses are easy to use, and the animals can wear them even when not in the car — there’s a convenient loop for attaching a leash.
When selecting a travel restraint, there are usually two levels of protection to choose from: distraction prevention and crash protection. It’s important to find restraints that provide both, and to make sure that your animals are properly strapped in — in the back seat, where airbag deployment can’t hurt them. In the event of a wreck, the wrong type of harness can cause spinal injuries, ACL tears, or paralysis, so do some research on the Center for Pet Safety site when selecting a model.
Believe it or not, there are also many cats who love hitting the road, so a device like the Sleepypod mobile bed is perfect for them.
A good travel restraint will not only protect animals, it’ll keep you and your human passengers safe, too. For all the joy and security that our furry family members bring us, don’t we owe them some security, too?