For most of us, fastening our seatbelts as soon as we get into a car is second nature. Now, a consumer group called Bark-BuckleUp is educating pet owners about the need for similar safety restraints for pets.
The Travel Industry Association of America reports that 29 million U.S. dog owners travel with their canine companions, yet a 2007–2008 national survey of pet owners conducted by the American Pet Products Manufacturer’s Association revealed that 80% of pet owners who travel with their pets never use a restraint.
“In an accident, an unbuckled cat or dog can become a projectile, risking serious injury to the pet, the driver, and passengers,” says Bark-BuckleUp’s cofounder Christina Lynn.
Some states have passed laws restricting dogs from open vehicles, such as pick-up trucks, or require them to travel in crates, or with cross-tie restraints. This follows in the wake of numerous accidents, including the widely publicized 1999 incident in which author Stephen King was struck by a car and gravely injured after the car’s driver became distracted while attempting to control an unrestrained dog.
“My opinion is that requiring pets to be appropriately restrained in pick-ups and cars is quite a positive and responsible move,” offers Alicia Faggella, DVM, Critical Care Director at AAHA-accredited Dove Lewis Emergency Animal Hospital in Portland, Ore. “Too often, we see animals that have been injured or killed secondary to jumping or falling out of pick-up trucks. Animals in closed vehicles have also been injured or killed when involved in car accidents where the animal has not been restrained appropriately.”
Faggella adds that restraints should be applied appropriately, with the kind of restraint dependent upon vehicle type, size of pet being restrained, and the animal’s temperament. She cautions owners to buy restraints made expressly for that purpose, and not try to construct something on their own.
For further information on this topic, visit Bark-BuckleUp and ConsumerAffairs.com.
This article originally appeared in PetsMatter Volume 3 Issue 3, published by the American Animal Hospital Association. Copyright © 2009 AAHA. Find out more.