Pointers For Pet Lovers When Dog Is Your Co-Pilot

Why should a dog wear a restraint while riding in a vehicle? The same reason you wear a seatbelt and parents rely on child safety seats.

Sharp turns, sudden stops and collisions cause severe injury or death to unrestrained animals and anyone inside the vehicle.

"Keep your pets restrained on every trip,” said Dr. Flaura Winston of the Center for Injury Research and Prevention at Children’s Hospital of Philadelphia. "In the event of a crash they can be a projectile hurting everyone, including themselves.

Canadian law enforcement officials echo the concerns of safety advocates.

"We cringe when we see dogs loose in the back of vehicles, particularly in a pickup truck, but even worse is a dog perched up on the window sill of the car while sitting in the lap of the driver," Steve Kaye, president of the Canadian Police Canine Association, told the Globe and Mail.

When picking out a safety harness for your dog, Leslie Wolko, CEO Center for Pet Safety, offered the following advice:

  • Look beyond product hype. There is no universal safety standard for pet harnesses and most travel products are not crash tested.
  • Speak with the manufacturer and find out the weight rating in harness tests.
  • Conduct some online research. Ask to see the full-length crash test video. Does the pet go airborne? If it does, it’s not a crash protection harness.
  • Find out if harness connectors have been tested (buckles, clasps, buttons).
  • Never let your dog ride in the front seat. Even with a restraint, there is the chance of significant injury from the airbag or broken glass.
  • Avoid using extension tethers and zipline-style products. They allow the pet to choke or become airborne.
  • Inspect products thoroughly. Your pet’s safety depends on the quality of straps, connectors, how products were tested and size of your pet.