By LEIGH C. MERRIFIELD
News & Journal Editor
If you are a pet owner, you know how easy it is to become attached to “man’s best friend”. Pets truly become a precious part of the family! And many times, families who travel during the holidays tend to take their pets with them rather than board them. Why? Because the family members they visit typically want to enjoy having the entire family around – including the pets.
According to the American Pet Products Association, there are 78 MILLION dogs in the U.S. and each year, more and more pets travel with their owners to pet parks, restaurants and pet-friendly destinations, especially during the holidays and winter months. They also issue a warning that pets should not travel unrestrained, saying that people don’t realize that an unrestrained dog or cat riding in a vehicle can be a serious distraction.
It is also dangerous. An animal sitting in the front seat can risk fatal injury from an airbag, even in a minor collision. There is also a risk for an animal sitting in the co-pilot seat to fly through the windshield. Even riding in the backseat, there can be serious consequences. An animal can be thrown like a projectile with enough force to seriously injure human passengers – including small children that may also be with them.
Here are some things to consider; they are reasons to ensure that your pet is restrained while riding with you in a vehicle at any time! 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 – a scared pet could pose a threat to a paramedic or firefighter and the animal might have to be put down in order to save human life!
Having pets secured in a moving vehicle is a safety factor for the driver or any passenger as well as the animal!
Certainly, we are all aware of the national Click It or Ticket campaign that urges people to wear their seatbelts because it is known to save lives. Believe it or not, some states are also passing pet restraint laws. The state of Hawaii, for example, explicitly forbids drivers from holding a pet on their lap while in a moving vehicle. Other states now impose a fine (ranging from $250 to $1,000 per offense) if they transport an unsecured animal.
There are, however, some comfortable solutions to restraining an animal in a vehicle … and if you know folks who travel with their pets, these may be some good holiday gift-giving ideas!
Sleepypod (www.sleepypod.com) offers a full line of pet carriers and safety harnesses. Their Clickit Utility models are designed specifically to keep ‘pet passengers’ in their seats at all times, even in an accident.
Ruffwear (www.ruffwear.com) has a Load Up harness designed to safely transport animals. 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 pets secure during sudden vehicle movements and slows drivers to focus.
And if you’re into offering nothing but the best for your pet, 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 pounds. It installs easily using the car’s seat belt and equalizes the pressure of a sudden stop. The FidoRido® is said to provide lots of room and pet comfort, and even when restrained, your pet can sit, stand, lie down and look out the window!
Remember when you are urged to “Buckle Up” your family when you travel, that means the entire family! Be sure to include your pet as part of that warning!