Don't Let Your Pet Kill You in an Accident - 30,000+/- Accidents a year are caused by dogs in the front seats."
The Laws of Physics don't stop. In a 35 mph crash 60 a pound pet becomes about 2,700 pounds of force (about the same as two full grown, male grizzly bears). Many people allow their pets to scoot around, unrestrained, in the back seat of the car or in the bed of a truck. It's safer for everyone in the vehicle if a dog or cat is restrained. A recent American Automobile Association (AAA) survey found, "A large number of accidents, something like 30,000 a year, are caused by dogs in the front seats." Buckle up your pets in a car or truck to protect you, your pet and your passengers. If you have an accident, your pet can become a projectile.
According to the Bark Buckle UP Web site, 82% of dogs travel in vehicles on family vacations. A
Dr. Alicia Faggella, a Portland, Oregon, veterinarian who has had advanced training in emergency and critical care, cites several reasons why pet owners should buckle up their dogs and cats:
- Pets can cause an accident by jumping into the driver's lap, distracting the driver, or blocking the driver's vision. Small dogs can also get under the pedals;
- Pets can become "missiles" if they're in an accident - or if the driver makes a hard stop or quick turn. This can kill or severely injure not only the animal, but also the people in the vehicle;
- When left unrestrained in a parked car, pets can dislodge the parking brake, causing the car to roll down a hill - into another car or person;
- Unrestrained pets in the back of a pick-up can be severely injured or killed by falling or jumping out of a moving vehicle or hitting the cab when the truck stops short.
- An unrestrained pet is at risk of falling out of open windows in a moving vehicle, and is at risk of escaping at rest stops when car doors are opened. Dogs and cats can also be killed or injured by airbags and should always be placed in a seat that does not have airbags if the bags can't be turned off.
In an accident, animals may run loose and create problems for firefighters, emergency medical personnel and police officers responding to the already-chaotic scene of a vehicle collision. Dogs shocked from the trauma of an accident may snap at or attack strangers and could delay rescue efforts of their injured owners. After an accident, unrestrained pets can be injured and trapped under cars or may run into traffic and be hit or killed and cause another accident. Often, there aren't sufficient responders to deal with pet problems at an accident scene.
Anything done to get animals out of the front seat or restrain them will keep pets and passenger safer. Seatbelt harnesses can be purchased at local pet stores. Most harnesses have leash attachments and can be used outside of the car to walk your dog. There are other types of car restraints for pets besides a harness: a zip line that secures a dog but also lets it move back and forth, and a back seat barrier that creates a wall between the front and back seats of the car. Do some research and pick the type you think best suited to your pet. Prices for pet restraints start at around $25.
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