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
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,