According to a National Pet Owners Survey conducted in 2009- 2010, 71.4 million U.S. households own a pet, mostly cats and dogs, and 50% of those households have more than one pet. With all of these pets in households, another survey discovered that over 82% of pet owners would be traveling for weekends or on vacations with their pets, and out of these traveling pets, 85% of pets travel without being properly restrained in a vehicle. Since all states require safety restraint systems for children, why aren’t more people using safety restraint systems for their beloved pets?
At the pet safety Website, Pet Auto Safety, a good list of cogent reasons is cited for properly restraining pets in vehicles. Some of these reasons include injuries that can occur when the vehicle has to stop quickly or is in an accident, free and wandering animals can be very distracting to the driver, pets can be hurt while sticking their heads out the vehicle windows, pets can be thrown from cars and the back of trucks with very little impact, and pets can be lost if they escape from the scene of an accident.
The pet safety advocate Christina Selter who hosts the informative Website Bark Buckle UP gives the following example of the extent to which your pet, family, and you might be hurt if your unrestrained dog becomes a projectile during an accident. A 60 pound dog riding unsecured in a vehicle will become a 2,700 pound projectile if an accident happens at only 35 miles per hour! Ms. Selter also gives sad scenarios of what can happen to your pet after an accident occurs. The pet may escape from a window or the vehicle and run into traffic and be hurt, killed and/or cause another accident, the dog may be protective of the family or owner and not let the first response team of police and EMT’s near the car and injured riders, if the animal is hurt and scared then their anxiety and fear cause greater blood loss, and many pets who died in accidents would have sustained only minor injuries if they had been restrained, much like humans wearing seatbelts.
There are several types of pet restraint systems that can be purchased online or at the local pet store. The type of restraint system that would be the best for your pet is determined by their size and weight, type of pet (dog vs. cat), type of vehicle it will be used in, and the length of the pet’s travel time. Some of the available options include tethers, seatbelts, auto barriers, travel carriers, crates, and pet booster seats. The previously cited Website Bark Buckle UP gives illustrations and recommendations for what works and doesn’t work depending on the type and size of dog that you will be restraining.
After you have decided which safety restraint system will work best for your pet, have someone check the installation to make sure it is properly installed. Animals should never be left unrestrained in the back of a pick-up truck as this is the single most common way pets die in vehicles. Most drivers with unsecured pets in their cars are reported to have spent time patting, helping, moving, or comforting their pet while driving. For obvious reasons, this is a major safety problem on all roads whether you are going to the store or traveling on vacation. Let your driving be unhampered and safe, and your mind free from stress, by giving your precious pet the safety and security of a travel restraint system.