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Veterinarian Tips: Vehicle Safety for Pets
WHY IT IS IMPORTANT TO SECURE OR CONTAIN A PET IN A VEHICLE It’s dangerous when an animal rides unsecured in a moving vehicle. Just as it is important for the owner to use a seatbelt and shoulder harness, the pet should also be protected through the use of either a travel harness or a secured pet carrier. The risk of an accident increases when, for example, an unsecured pet: Crawls down into the footwell of the driver’s side of the vehicle, obstructing the use of the brake and/or accelerator pedal Climbs onto and leans across the driver’s lap to hang out of the window, blocking the driver’s view of the road Causes a distraction that pulls the driver’s attention away from their responsibility of driving. Unsecured animals can be hurt or killed during a collision when they are allowed to: Sit in the lap of the driver or front seat passenger, which puts them in the path of an exploding airbag Sit in the back seat or lap of a back seat passenger and are thrown out of or through a window or through the windshield. Passengers are also at an increased risk of being injured when they ride with an unsecured animal. During an accident, those riding within the vehicle could be struck by the animal’s body as it is tossed about or hurled through the vehicle. WINDOW SAFETY FOR PETS Dogs seem to love riding with their head hanging out of the car window. While it is nice that they are enjoying the breeze, it is also dangerous. When a pet’s face is hanging out of the window it increases their risk of being injured from objects that are airborne or driven into. Eye, ear, face, and mouth injuries can occur when the animal is struck by, for instance: Debris falling off other vehicles Rubber remnants from blown tires Birds Large insects such as bees Oversized items hanging out and over the sides of other vehicles on the road Rear view mirrors of vehicles passing too close in driver’s lane. DOG SAFETY IN TRUCK BEDS A dog that rides in the bed of a pickup truck is also at risk of being injured or killed. Animals can be harmed by: Falling off of or jumping from the bed of the truck Animal may be injured or killed from the impact or from being struck by another vehicle Being struck by airborne objects. While being tethered to the truck bed will help to secure the animal, the animal is still at risk of injury. For instance, if the animal tries to exit the truck bed: When the tether is long enough for animal to go over the side, but too short to reach the ground, the animal could be strangled When the tether is long enough for the animal to go over the side and reach the ground, the animal could be choked while being dragged behind the moving vehicle. The safest way to transport an animal in the bed of a truck is to put it in a secured and well-ventilated dog carrier that fits the size of the animal. People may not realize the risks they pose to the safety of other drivers, as well as to their human and animal passengers, when they allow a pet to remain unsecured in a moving vehicle.