Whether you and your pet are traveling across the country on an epic road trip, or across town to visit your favorite pet store, keeping your pet secure and stress-free is very important for the safety of everyone in the vehicle. Additionally, even though Missouri does not require dogs to be restrained in vehicles by law, there are several states that do require that dogs be restrained while traveling in vehicles or have related laws.
Much like how we should wear our seat belts properly while riding in cars, pets should also be properly secured. Being nicely secured not only reduces the chances of your pet being seriously injured during an accident or running away in the aftermath of an accident, but they also prevent your pet from running amok in the car and possibly distracting the driver.
There are three basic categories of pet safety restraints for vehicle use that are currently available: booster/car seats, safety harnesses/seat belt tethers, and carriers and crates.
Booster and car seats are normally not containment devices, instead, they serve as an open-air booster or suspended seats. Generally, the booster or car seat is anchored to the seat and seatbelt, and you clip your pet’s harness to the booster seat. This keeps your dog out of your lap, restrained in their seat, and gives them a nice view out the window. Booster/car seats are great for smaller (under ~ 30 pounds) and leash-trained cats.
Carriers are covered enclosures that you can strap into a vehicle using a seatbelt or your vehicle’s latch anchors. Carriers are very versatile and can be used for many forms of pet transport, there are both hard plastic and fabric versions of carriers. It is important that you give your cat or dog time to explore and become comfortable around any new carrier at home before you hit the road, this will help keep your pet calm in the vehicle. Carriers need to remain fully closed while your pet is inside the carrier.
Crates are larger in size and weight than carriers and are usually made of hard plastic and/or metal. Crates are good for containing larger dogs in vehicles and can fit well in the backseat of a vehicle or luggage area of a van or SUV. Much like carriers, to have a stress-free ride, it is important to introduce and allow your dog to become comfortable with the crate inside of your home before hitting the road.
Safety harnesses and seat belt tethers are used with your car’s seatbelt system. If your dog enjoys moving in the back seat, an auto zip line system keeps them contained to the back seat while allowing them freedom of movement. Seat belt tethers and travel harnesses can keep your dog secured in the vehicle and they either click into the seatbelt latch or are looped around the seatbelt. Buckle barriers should be used with safety harnesses and tethers, they prevent a dog from unlatching themselves on accident by stepping on the seatbelt buckle. Some brands, such as Kurgo have crash-tested harnesses, giving you even more peace of mind.
All vehicle pet restraints serve the same purpose, of keeping you and your pet safe on the road, no matter what happens. There are pros and cons to each restraint option, but it is very important to never restrain pets in the front seat, airbags can hurt or kill the pet in the case of an accident. Also, it is important to check the weight and size guidelines of each device to make sure it will function properly. If a carrier, harness, or booster seat is too small, it may not protect your pet in an accident. And, if a carrier or harness is too large, a pet might be able to escape it, causing a potentially dangerous situation.
Leah, one of our staff at Lizzi & Rocco’s learned how important dog restraint systems can be in emergency situations this November.
In November, I got the Kurgo Tru-Fit Smart Harness because it is crash-tested and the Auto Zip Line for ease of movement in the back seat for my dog, Kenai. Literally the next day after I purchased and installed the zip line, a deer hit my car while I was driving in St. Louis. I am super thankful for the Kurgo harness and zipline because it kept Kenai safe and prevented him from jumping out the window to chase after the deer (which he tried to do).