Traveling with Dogs? Those Car Crates and Harnesses May Not Do Him Much Good
Crash test results could be a reason to leave Fido at home
You consider yourself a responsible pet parent. You know your dog shouldn’t ride in your lap in the car or stick his head out the window (nice as that wind may feel in his fur). Maybe you’ve gone so far as to buy a harness or crate to keep him safe in the car in the event of a crash. But if you have, your pet might not be getting as much protection as you think.
The Center for Pet Safety (CPS), a nonprofit research and consumer safety organization, recently tested 29 pet crates and carriers in 30 mile-per-hour crash tests. All but four of the products failed the tests.
In 2013, the CPS tested 11 harnesses with similar results. Researchers found “serious flaws in many of the popular pet restraints now on the market, with many resulting in catastrophic failure,” according to the press release.
Restraining your dog in the back seat is important for his safety and yours. “In the event of a crash, it is important for pet crates and carriers to contain the dog and prevent the animal from becoming a projectile. It is also important for the containment device to remain fully secured at the connection points. If a pet is unrestrained, or the structural integrity should fail, the dog can potentially strike and injure a human passenger,” the CPS said in a press release.
In the more recent tests, the dog dummies (no real dogs were used) flew right out of some of the crates and carriers, shattering crates as the dogs went airborne. In the 2013 tests, harnesses snapped right off the dog or the seat, sending the dog flying forward.
No federal safety standards
If you bought a crate or harness that claims to have passed a safety test, know this: There are no federal safety standards for these products. “While many crate and carrier manufacturers claim their products are crash-tested and safe for use in a vehicle, there are currently no test protocols or performance standards in the U.S. to substantiate these claims,” according to the CPS.
So what should you do? The Humane Society of the United States says the safest way for your dog to travel in the car is in a crate that’s anchored to the seat using a seat belt. The crate should be in the back seat (or if you have a station wagon, the wagon area is fine, too).
Before you buy a new safety device for Bark or Fido, check out the CPS crash test results to see which crates and carriers passed the test, and read this Consumer Reports story about which harnesses passed their tests.