Pet in­sur­ance

Man’s best friend is a com­pan­ion at home and of­ten a pas­sen­ger in the car. Here’s how to keep your pooch com­fort­able — and safe

The Advertiser - Motoring - - COVER STORY FOUR-LEGGED SAFETY - CRAIG DUFF

ASK any owner and they’ll say their dog is part of the fam­ily — yet most have no idea how to en­sure the pet’s com­fort on car trips and sur­vival in an ac­ci­dent.

We buckle up, check our kids’ re­straints are prop­erly fas­tened and then let the pooch wan­der around the cabin or in the tray with­out pro­tec­tion.

And pets need pro­tec­tion in a car crash, as they are sub­ject to the same de­cel­er­a­tion as hu­man oc­cu­pants.

More than 5000 pets are hurt or killed in crashes in Aus­tralia each year. Spinal and leg in­juries, the most com­mon, are painful, long-term mat­ters that are ex­pen­sive to treat.

Res­train­ing your beloved pooch in the first place is a far less costly ex­er­cise, one that could spare you not just from vet­eri­nary bills but from traf­fic fines. It is il­le­gal for a pet to not be prop­erly re­strained — and that ab­so­lutely means not sit­ting on the driver’s lap.

Fines and de­merit points ap­ply and the con­se­quences can in­clude jail time un­der the pre­ven­tion of cru­elty to an­i­mals pro­vi­sions if your pet is in­jured or hurts some­one else dur­ing a col­li­sion.

There is no of­fi­cial stan­dard for pet re­straints, mean­ing the qual­ity of prod­ucts varies from rub­bish to ro­bust.

The NRMA high­lighted the prob­lem in 2013 when it tested 25 dog re­straints. Only two, the Pu­rina Roadie and Sleep­y­pod Clickit, re­strained the an­i­mal in both a sim­u­lated 20km/h crash and a “drop” test at 35km/h.

NRMA en­gi­neers iden­ti­fied the plas­tic buck­les, sim­i­lar to those found on back­packs, as the weak link in the other prod­ucts.

These buck­les gave way when the test dummy an­i­mal’s weight abruptly hit them,

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