This blog was inspired by a beautiful labradoodle I saw riding in a car with its` head out of the window this week when I was walking to pick my son up from daycare.  It got me thinking more about pet safety while in our cars.  I doubt many would disagree with me that driving with an animal in your lap, on the dashboard or in the back window isn’t safe…mind you that doesn`t stop people from doing it.  But what measures can we take to increase the safety of our dogs when we are travelling.  Leaving them at home is not an option all of the time.

The Center for Pet Safety did a study in 2013 (sponsored by Subaru…have you seen their commericals with the dogs?  You should!) called the Center for Pet Safety 2013 Harness Crashworthiness Study for the purpose of:

  1. Evaluating and ranking current-state safety harness products that claim “Testing”, “Crash Testing” or “Crash Protection”.
  2. Collecting harness performance data to be used by the Center for Pet Safety to develop a harness standard and test protocols to ensure measurable product performance and improve occupant safety should an accident occur
  3. Determining top performing harness brand(s).

I`ve linked to the study if you would like to look more at specific brands…but only one brand (Clickit Utility by Sleepypod) passed the crash test.

What you should take away from this study:

  1. There are no safety standards for these products set out by government or industry.
    • Manufactures may claim crash testing…but may have only done tensile testing
  2. Most of the harnesses failed during crash testing (ie. the harness broke) and some allowed the dog to become a projectile in the vehicle
  3. Size of the harness was very important but safety was not always consistent between sizes of the same harness

So maybe a seat belt for your dog isn’t all its cracked up to be.  But it does prevent driver distraction and injuries during quick stops.  This could also be achieved by confining the dog in the back of a vehicle where they cannot reach driver with a car barrier, a crate or a car seat hammock…all which likely provide the occupants of the car more protection from the dog than keeping a dog safe during a crash.

Brands available in Canada were reviewed a few years ago using the same methods as the American study on CBC’s Marketplace.  You can watch the full video online.  Five brands were tested and they all failed.  There was not as much specific data provided for how each harness preformed but you can see the results here.

Let me know your thoughts.  Do you use any sort of restraint for you dog in the car?  Do these studies make you change your mind about your current practices?