James R. Speiser, DVM, DABVP, CCRT
December 5, 2016
According to the American Pet Products Association there are 78 million dogs in the U.S. and each year, more and more pets are traveling with their owners to pet parks, restaurants and pet-friendly destinations, especially during the holidays and winter months. The problem is, the vast majority of owners are traveling with their pets unrestrained. Many people just don’t realize that an unrestrained dog or cat riding in a vehicle can be a serious distraction.
The Dangers Of Unrestrained Pets When Traveling
A dog sitting in the front seat can risk fatal injury from an airbag, even in a minor collision. Just as bad, a dog is also at risk of flying through the windshield when sitting co-pilot. In the backseat they could be thrown like a projectile with enough force to seriously injure the human passengers and small children are most susceptible to serious injury.
If a collision is bad enough that emergency crews are required, an unsecured animal could run from the scene into oncoming traffic, get hit or even cause another accident. The animal could also create a situation where a firefighter or paramedic is not able to get to you safely. Or even worse, a scared pet could pose a threat to a paramedic or firefighter and they may have to put the animal down in order to save human life.
James R. Speiser, DVM, DABVP, CCRT, founder of IndyVet, (www.IndyVet.com) a 24-hour specialty practice comprised of emergency, internal medicine, surgery, ophthalmology, and rehabilitation services, has seen many cases over his 37 years of practice. “Our team of emergency doctors do see animals who have been injured while traveling in vehicles that have been involved in accidents,” states Dr. Speiser. “As more people travel to pet friendly places, having pets secured in the vehicle increases the safety factor for both the driver and all the passengers,” Speiser adds.
More And More States Are Passing Pet Restraint Laws
Arizona, Connecticut and Maine – distracted-driving laws can be used to charge drivers with pets on their laps.
Hawaii – explicitly forbids drivers from holding a pet on their lap.
New Jersey – a NJSPCA officer can stop a driver they believe is improperly transporting an animal. Tickets range from $250 to $1,000 per offense, and a driver can face a disorderly person’s offense under animal-cruelty laws.
Rhode Island – proposed legislation would make having a dog in your lap a distracted-driving violation.
There Are Solutions To Traveling Safely With Pets
There are a number of products available that provide great options for keeping your pet safe while traveling.
Fido Pet Products (www.fidopetproducts.com) offers their patented FidoRido®, a 3-in-1 booster seat and restraint system that can also be used as a pet bed and bath tub for dogs up to 30 lbs. The FidoRido® installs easily using the car's seat belt. The two-strap restraint system, when used with the FidoRido® harness provided, equalizes the pressure of a sudden stop. The FidoRido® provides lots of room and pet comfort, and even when restrained, dogs can sit, stand, lie down AND look out the window!
Sleepypod® (www.sleepypod.com) has a full line of pet carriers and safety harnesses. Their Clickit Utility models are designed specifically to keep doggie passengers in their seats at all times, even in an accident.
Ruffwear (www.ruffwear.com) has a Load Up™ harness designed to safely transport dogs to and from adventures. Built with strength-rated hardware and components, the Load Up™ harness has been successfully tested to withstand the rigors of a vehicle crash test. It attaches to existing seatbelts for a universal fit and keeps dogs secure during sudden vehicle movements and allows drivers to focus.
Just remember to buckle up the entire family when traveling this holiday season. It could save their life AND yours!