Why Don’t We Strap in Our Pets?
As a dog owner you worry about the welfare of your furry companion; we pay out a fortune in vets’ bills if they have a cold or illness, we fuss over the right collar and matching lead and we even wash the old dog bed until it’s gleaming.
The PetPlan Pet Census 2011 of 10,697 people found 99% of you considered your pet an integral member of the family. Spending on our four-legged loved ones clearly shows how much our pets mean to us. Sainsbury’s Finance reported that vets’ bills rose 34% this year, a rise from an average of £333.83 to £416.35 and there was an increase of 6.7% in pet food sales as we splash out on gourmet foods free of additives.
But, when it comes to taking our furry friend out in the car many of us, even the most safety conscious, will neglect to consider the basics of car seat safety; not even considering the consequences of what would happen if we were involved in an accident. The unfortunate truth being, that in the event of an accident it is likely that our beloved pet could be critically injured regardless of whether his head was lolling out the window or if he was sprawled on the back seat. And that’s not even imagining what would happen to the driver or the front passenger if the dog were to be launched forward.
There has been no official testing for obvious reasons but there are a few road safety leaflets on the matter. Notably ROSPA, the Royal Society for the Prevention of Accidents, & the PDSA have this safety leaflet on carrying pets safely in cars which encourages the use of safety harnesses for animals in vehicles.
Whatever the professional advice here are a few reasons that might convince you to use doggy seat belts:
1) Dogs can distract you while driving and any distraction is seriously dangerous. Even a well-trained dog may react altogether unexpectedly in a car situation. Car horns, police sirens, and other stimuli may well make your hound behave dangerously out of character. (link to news article)
2) Sharp breaking at traffic lights or the emergency braking reaction to a child running out in front of you, could send your dog slamming into the dash or the back of your seat. (link to news article)
3) A dog might have a great time with its head out of the but a tiny piece of flying debris can lodge into a dog’s sensitive eyes or nose and cause serious damage (link to how to guide)
4) Open car windows might cool down the car, but if your dog isn’t in a safety harness the natural instinct to chase a squirrel or cat might take over and they could leap out in hot pursuit. If they are not injured from jumping from a moving vehicle they may well get hit by oncoming traffic. (link to Quora question)
5) Also, if your dog causes a road accident, you may not be insured for this despite having pet insurance. (link to advice article)
Why is it that we think as soon as a dog steps into a car, they become an indestructible being? I doubt any of us, even if we do not have children of our own, would ever consider driving off in the car with a toddler siting in the car without being properly restrained so why do we with our dogs?
Well a theory for this is that we just haven’t been educated to this fact. Those of us who can still remember the old Clunk Click public information films will know that it heralded a total change in our approach to driving safety. Our cars are built with safety in mind and we are surrounded by it as soon as we sit in the cabin. Our car dash shows us that the car comes with passenger and driver airbags; some emit a chime if the seatbelts aren’t fastened, accompanied by a flashing dash light. Our cars tell us if we are too close to another vehicle, if a door is open and if the ABS is failing. But our cars do not tell us to strap in the dog.
Dog seat belts are available in a number of online shops for as little as £5. While Halfords offer a cheap fitting service that will ensure dogs of all shapes and sizes are safely secured.
With the a variety of seat belts available at relatively cheap prices, it would seem that lack of awareness is the main reason so many of our four-legged friends remain unsecure on car journeys. With dog seat belts compulsory in parts of Australia, Germany, Spain and New Zealand, is it time for Britain to follow suit?
To help you find what you a looking for and to help both you and your furry friend stay together for a long, long time, here are a few places to try out that will deliver your affordable dog safety belts.
List of suppliers: