Our pets are our family. We love them and want them near us, but many pet owners are not aware of the potential consequences of not restraining pets while traveling. There are reports that the American Automobile Association indicates that tens of thousands of accidents are caused each year by dogs in front seats.
Christina Selter, founder of Bark BuckleUp, a pet safety educational program similar to “Click it or Ticket”, is on a nation-wide campaign promoting pet safety in vehicles. “Be Smart. Ride Safe”, she said at the 2008 Chicago Auto Show (hear her message in her own words).
In 2006 we carefully researched which tow vehicle would best meet our needs upon ordering our Airstream Safari. One of those needs was to have a tow vehicle that would easily accommodate two dog carriers on top of a folding back seat. We continue to be very happy with our choice of the Ford Super Duty F-250 (despite the rising price of diesel fuel). Our dog carriers (Vari Kennels) rest on the folded back seats and are secured with a ratcheted strap to bolts in the back of the crew cab.
Our dogs are safe, and seem to be comfortable, and enjoy the view, while we can keep an eye on them.
Carriers work well for our small dogs (Corgi and Pug), but for larger dogs, a pet harness might work better. Either way, they will be out of harm’s way by keeping them in the back seat. (Airbags can kill or injure a loved one.)
There are many good reasons why pets should be restrained while traveling in vehicles:
- Unrestrained pets can distract the driver, jump in driver’s lap, block driver’s vision, or get in or around pedals.
- Unrestrained pets can easily fall off the seat while you are braking or turning, sustain an injury and distract you.
- Unrestrained pets could get you a ticket depending where you drive.
- If you have an accident, your pet can become a projectile with a force of up to eight times its regular weight, risking injury to the pet and all others in the vehicle. Your pet could also be ejected through a window.
- If you have an accident, your dog might interfere or bite the emergency responders, run out of the vehicle into more traffic and possibly cause another accident, get killed or run away. (If your dog caused a second accident, your insurance rates might go up.)
So, as Christina Selter says, “Be Smart. Ride Safe.”