Stray Magnet Blog

Pet Travel Safety: This Holiday Season and Everyday

car travelWe were driving though Spartanburg South Carolina and the car in front of us went into the median rail flipped and landed on the far side of the median close to ongoing traffic on the 4 lane interstate. Immediately I pulled over and I noticed the driver had jumped out of the car and was running toward opposing traffic-what was she doing? Then I saw… Her dog was loose running across the interstate traffic. Miraculously cars stopped, people jumped out and everyone tried to help secure the dog and make sure everyone was alright. Everyone appeared okay although I am sure the adrenaline was running and injuries still needed to be assessed. Thank goodness everyone seemed alright but then I began to wonder, what happened? did the dog cause the accident somehow? was he thrown? and what are the safe ways to travel with pets?

Pet Travel Safety Survey

The AAA conducted a survey in 2011 in Florida, Georgia and Tennessee about Pet Travel Safety. From the 62% who had pets their responses were interesting:

-73% drive with pets in vehicle
For (reasons): 33% leisure trips, 30% vacation/road trips, 28% errands

-43% of those respondents NEVER travel using a pet car restraint

In addition:
-33% allow pet to move freely in car
-30% allow pet to sit in lap
-29% allow pet to have head out of the window
-7% allow pet to ride in the back of a pick up truck

Surprisingly, “When asked how dangerous do you think having an unrestrained pet in your vehicle while diving” 81% said somewhat or very dangerous.

car travelWhat should you do:

Race Foster, DMV on Dr. Foster and SmithPets, like children, should be safely restrained while traveling. All it takes is a sudden stop or turn to seriously injure your pet. Not to mention what could happen if you got in an accident.” There are a number of ways to restrain/protect your pets using cages, crates, carriers, harnesses, booster chairs and more. Drs. Foster & Smith carry many appropriate pet restraint items available. They key is to make sure they are secured in an appropriate size space so for small pets-carriers, booster chairs (with harnesses) and larger pets-harnesses or Helen Fazio on Dogster recommends “secured in the cargo area of a van, SUV or station wagon by the installation of a safe, strong wire mesh fence that prevents them from being launched into the seating area in the case of a sudden stop.” She also says the “back center seat is the safest location” to secure a pet.

The Veterinary & Aquatic Services Department of Drs. Foster & Smith say “NEVER allow your pet to ride in the back of an open pickup truck, even if restrained. Cages or crates may be thrown out in the event of an accident. Animals who are tied may attempt to jump out, resulting in strangulation or dragging the animal behind the vehicle.

When pets are restrained then it’s easier to practice the safe travel guidelines and avoid the NO NO’s including: allowing your pet to freely move around, sit in your lap, and have their head out the window. We are guilty of several NO NO’s (pet loose in car, head out of window) but I hadn’t thought there was a good restraint for large dogs. I had only ever seen pictures of seats for little dogs. We will start researching, if anyone has a favorite pet restraint product, pass it on.

Note: both dogs pictured above are not in appropriate safety restraints.

Additional Resources:
Traveling with Your Dog in the Car” on Dogster by Helen Fazio
Top 10 Tips for Safe Travel with your Pet” on ASPCA
Cesar’s Best Dog Travel Tips” on Cesar’s Way
It is Unsafe for a Pet to Ride with His Head Out the Car Window“ Veterinary & Aquatic Services Department on Drs. Foster & Smith Pet Education
AAA 2011 Consumer Pulse Survey: Pet Travel Safety By State (Florida, Georgia and Tennessee)
Pets and Car Travel Safety” on Title Pro Loans