You open your car door and Fido jumps in to go for a ride. Does your pet just sit in the seat next to you, or sprawl out in your back seat? We have all seen pets traveling in cars unsecured. I have even seen tiny dogs laying on the dash or in the back window of cars I have passed. Driving with an unsecured pet can cause an accident or even serious injury to your pet.
Pets Cause Distractions in a Car
Small dogs are used to being snuggled on their owners lap. If a small dog decides to start climbing on its owner, who is trying to drive, it is a definite distraction. A larger dog can attempt to jump from the back seat to the front, jolting the driver.
Cats are very inquisitive creatures and if the cat is not secured, it will roam around out of curiosity. The cat may even get down by the driver’s feet making it impossible to accelerate or apply the brake if necessary.
If you have children in the car, they are surely restrained, but if the children start playing with the pet, the pet can become excited and attempt to run or jump. The pet could distract your concentration or possibly harm a small child by jumping on them.
An Unsecured Pet Can be Injured in a Car
Suppose your very small dog or kitten is laying or sitting on the seat next to you and you have to slam on your brakes to avoid a collision. The animal will be thrown to the floor and can possibly be injured. The distraction of the pet being thrown into the floor will startle, or panic, the driver, especially if the pet yelps in pain.
The impact from a crash can toss a small pet across a car and cause them to be slammed into a window, or even worse, tossed right out the window. The pet is then subject to being hit by other cars or injured when they hit the road.
An Unsecured Pet Can Disrupt Emergency Assistance
If you are involved in a serious accident, even if your pet is not harmed, you may have been knocked unconscious, or be pinned under the dash. Even if your pet is not injured, he may be very frightened, and instinctively protective of you.
Emergency assistance could be delayed because your large protective dog will not let them safely enter your vehicle. They will have to calm or restrain the dog before they can attend to you or any other injured person in your car.
Pets enjoy going for car rides and we enjoy taking them, but we need to make sure our pets are safely transported from place to place. Sure, Fido enjoys sitting on your lap with his head out the window. You as his owner or “parent” have the responsibility to keep your pet safe and to teach him or her safe habits. You would not take your child in a car without proper restraints, so why would you take a beloved pet anywhere without a safe means of travel.
Small dogs and cats can be placed in pet carriers and secured with a seat belt. If you have a large breed dog and cannot fit a carrier into your car, they should be secured with a harness, or a leash. These safety devices can be purchased for a modest price at pet stores, or you can check yard sales for used carriers.
Some states have enacted laws that it is illegal to transport a pet that is not in a proper carrier or pet restraint. These laws are for the pet’s safety and for the safety of others. Does your state have such a law? More importantly, are you abiding by it for your pet’s sake and everyone else’s?
The Wichita Eagle
The Daily Puppy