We've all seen it - many of us have probably encouraged it. A dog joyously hanging his head out the window of a car, ears flapping gloriously, and lips peeled back from the force of the wind with a lolling tongue. It's the picture of elation! But how safe is it, really?
Most pet owners know cats should always be in a carrier in a vehicle. If they start crawling all over the car, it could cause some obvious safety hazards and distractions for everyone inside. But car safety for dogs really isn't much different. It is just as unsafe for dogs to be loose in a vehicle, ride in the driver's lap, or stand up on the door while leaning out of the window.
In some states, drivers can actually be charged fines for having pets on their laps or driving with unrestrained pets. Georgia isn't one of those states, but why take risks when it comes to safety?
Driving with a pet passenger in tow involves a two-fold goal: 1) protect the driver from distraction, and 2) protect the pet in the event of an accident.
Did you know:
- Dogs should wear a harness and be attached to a seatbelt, especially in the front seat, or be in a crate in the back of the vehicle that is secured rather than "floating." If the driver slams on the brakes, an unrestrained dog could fly out of a window or slam into the dashboard or windshield. Dogs could also jump out of the window (if they see a squirrel or get spooked) if they are not tethered to the seat; dogs have been known to escape after a wreck and get lost. Spooked dogs might also crawl under the driver's feet by the pedals in a frantic attempt to feel safe.
- Many vehicle harnesses for dogs can double as walking harnesses.
- It is not safe for a dog to ride in the back of a pickup truck unless in a crate; however, the crate must also be secured to the truck bed.
- Seat barriers can keep dogs from migrating to the front of the vehicle but might not provide as much protection in an accident.
- While there aren't currently any legal standards for dog seatbelt harnesses like carseats for children, the vehicle harnesses we sell from Kurgo are crash-tested.
- Doggles are goggles for dogs that can help prevent injury to dogs' eyes from debris through open windows or irritation from wind and sun.
Ms. Park is owner of Park Pet Supply in East Atlanta Village.