Updated 06/06/2012 05:00 AM
Pet Pointers: Keeping your pet safe in the car
Several states have legislation pending that would make it mandatory for pets to be restrained while riding in the car with you. Lisa Chelenza has some tips on keeping your pets safely restrained while you are behind the wheel in this edition of Pet Pointers.
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If you are a lifelong pet parent, you have probably driven with your pet in your lap and their head out the window. Even though riding this way may seem innocent, it is actually very dangerous. In the event of an accident, your pet could be killed when your airbag deploys, your injuries could be compounded with them in your lap, or they could be ejected from the vehicle.
Accidents don’t have to be serious to cause serious injuries to your pets. Even a minor fender bender can cause an airbag to deploy, injuring your pet, or the impact can send them flying across the car or through a window. And if you have to hit the brakes suddenly or swerve to avoid a collision, your pet can be tossed around your vehicle and injured or killed.
The best way to avoid injuries is to have your pet restrained. You don’t have to totally deprive your dog of the window seat. Most doggie seat belts allow your dog to look out the window while being safely restrained by a harness that attaches to your vehicle’s existing seat belt. A typical harness retails for under $50. There are also collar clips that slip through the seat belt and hook to your pet’s collar like a leash. These are very inexpensive at about $10.
Cats are a little trickier. Their lithe bodies can find their way under seats and even on dash boards, and that is not okay. You can use a harness or collar clip just as with dogs, but sometimes a pet carrier is easier. Having either a hard shelled carrier or crate in your back seat, secured with the seat belt, is safer for your cat than roaming loose while you drive.
Even though having your pets restrained in your car while you drive is not the law yet in most states, if you cause an accident because of your pet, you could still receive a ticket for distracted driving.
Whether it’s mandatory or not, having your pet restrained is really the safest way for them to travel in your vehicle with you behind the wheel.