Friday, 24 May 2013

car restraint for dogs when travelling

Over Penny's lifetime we've tried many different restraints when travelling in the car. At the moment we have a harness which we clip to a seat belt.  She is a quiet traveller, so our issue is not stopping her moving around (she doesn't). It is making sure that in a collision or a sudden braking, she is not thrown around the cabin of the car.

Today I read a report on PetMD looking at a variety of pet restraints and car safety features.

However, even after I looked at all the styles on offer, I was still unconvinced that there is any system which will keep Penny safe in an accident. If you read this article about how seat belts for humans work, you will see that the idea is to distribute the impact across the least vulnerable parts of the human body:
When the belt is worn correctly, it will apply most of the stopping force to the rib cage and the pelvis, which are relatively sturdy parts of the body. Since the belts extend across a wide section of your body, the force isn't concentrated in a small area, so it can't do as much damage.
If you scroll through the restraints on the Pet MD site, you'll see that many of them have the dog attached by the collar around the neck. I think that's a recipe for disaster in a sudden stop. I prefer the ones which attach to a solid harness that goes around the belly.

But the bad news is that studies have shown there is no really effective safety harness for dogs. Here's an extract from a report on :
Using the Federal Motor Vehicle Safety Standard (FMVSS) 213, which is the gold standard for determining the safety of child restraint systems in vehicles, CPSresearchers went to work testing how each type of pet seat belt system held up in crash tests. During this initial testing phase, the group used a 55-pound “crash-test doggy” model to represent dogs in the 50-85 pound range, which includes breeds likeBoxersGerman Shepherds, and Weimaraners, among others.
Slow-motion video taken during the study shows the canine crash dummy, buckled into several models of pet seat belts, as the dog careens forward and smashes into the car interior during controlled crashes.
What CPS found was alarming. None of the pet harnesses met the minimum safety standards in the pilot study — a failure rate of 100 percent.
According to the CPS website, some of the problems researchers discovered with current pet safety restraints included a low likelihood of survival for the restrained pet, a danger to the driver and other passengers “when the dog becomes a missile,” and the probability of choking when the pet seat belt materials “cinch tightly” during the crash.
If you look carefully at discussions this topic, you will notice the key issue is safety for the humans, by preventing the dog from becoming a missile when the car stops suddenly or by preventing the dog from moving  around the interior of the car and distracting the driver.

Here's a quote from an article in The Week:
In fact, research by Volvo indicates that a standard-sized dog traveling in a car at 30 mph turns into 2,700 pounds of force — the same size as a baby elephant.
I thought the one in this video clip looked fairly good.

After writing this post, I'm more determined than ever to keep researching safety equipment for dogs in cars.
And to drive carefully.


Johann The Dog said...

We've done a lot of research on car safety for dogs as well. We crate in the car, but lots of our friends you harnesses. Many of the harnesses on the market aren't holding, but there are a few that have been tested in independent labs and hold very well. Here's our page on that to add to your research! :)

parlance said...

Thanks, Johann. I'll do a quick additional post right now to tell people about your roundup of the topic.

Molly the Airedale said...

We don't wear car harnesses at this time but our mom is rethinking this and feels that maybe it's time we did!

Love ya lots♥
Mitch and Molly

parlance said...

Mitch and Molly, the wearing of car harnesses is a tricky issue. I think it's mandatory now in a couple of states in the US.

Lilli said...

This was interesting piece of information! Just few days ago we talked about car restraint for dogs with my partner. We also have to do our research of this matter before we are buying any. I would really like to my dog to be also safe in the car during accidents, not only maybe avoid the dog to become a missile.


parlance said...

Lilli, I feel more confused than ever, since I did this research. I think the Squidoo post by Johann that I mentioned is really good information.

Lilli said...

I must to read that too then :)