May is the official start of kitten and puppy season in San Diego, which means the shelters are full of adorable fuzzies that need homes. This would be the perfect time to consider fostering those who are too young to be adopted out, or even adding a new member to your family! Since we treat our pets like they're treasured members of the family, it's no surprise that we've spent more than $55 billion last year on our animals, nor that the pet safety industry is alive and well, and even thriving!
Keeping Pets Safe On The Road
Image: James Hamel
Americans love to drive their animal friends with them about town. Now that dogs fit in purses, pigs act like dogs, and even cats are learning to love the leash, there's no reason to leave the family favorite at home. However, American's aren't always the best at keeping our animal friends safe in the car (cue those folks who drive around with parrots on their shoulders, which is just not a good idea for person or parrot). So if you need some ideas as to how to protect your furry or feathered friend in the car, here are the top 5 car safety devices for pets to use in you car, truck or SUV. After all, pets are family, and you'd make sure your kid is buckled up in the backseat.
Metal or plastic crates, secured to the floor of your vehicle:
Perfect for: Any cat, dog, parrot or rodent
The utmost in canine security and safety. Just as your pet feels safest at home in his or her crate so too can he or she on the open road. Many systems attach the crates to the bottom of the floor of an SUV’s cargo area and are 100% removable, and most cars now come with easy-to-access straps and clips to make this process even easier. In case of an accident only a pet harness comes close to this level of protection for your loved one. Just don’t forget to let him or her out of the vehicle immediately after an accident (assuming you're in a safe area and can do so).
Metal compartment dividers separating humans from animals:
Perfect for: Very large breed dogs
The systems are very simple and they separate the cargo area of an SUV from the second row of passengers, turning the area into a giant dog crate. These dividers are usually cheaper than a create and nearly as effective. A great idea is to cover the cargo area with beds, toys and goodies your dog loves to get him or her used to riding there. Soon, he will demand to be let in the back. We do recommend you attach a harness as well and keep an eye out for tailgaters.
Restraints and harnesses:
Perfect for: Medium to large breed dogs, some cats
[caption id="attachment_2474" width="150"] Roxy loves her safety harness![/caption]
While it may seem odd to harness a dog or cat in a car and take away the “wind in the fur” feeling, some speculate it may become law within ten years. Why not get ahead of things and buy a harness and restraint now? If being hip and ahead of the game isn't enough to entice you, perhaps being able to say you really do love your pet more than anyone else loves their pets because you care for their safety in the car will. Harnesses install easily onto any seat belt in the car, only be sure to keep it away from any powerful airbags that might kill your pet on impact (airbags are not tested for animals). Or if your dog is big enough, kill you as he or she impacts your neck at 65 miles per hour.
Padded, elevated seat beds with smaller restraints:
Perfect for: Small breed dogs and cats who think they're dogs
These “car seats” are for small to medium sized dogs (you could probably fit an adventurous cat in there, too) and afford the “height challenged” not only full crash security (thanks to seat belts) but also gives them a Labrador’s eye view of the world. Perhaps this will finally be the end to the yappy “Napoleon Complex” suffered by so many little dogs. Hey, it could happen.
The attentive care of a loving owner:
Perfect for: Any and all cats, dogs, turtles, goldfish and so on
Finally, it is all up to you to be alert and aware of your surroundings at all times when driving. There is no way to guarantee pet safety out there on the roads, but if their owner loves them enough to drive safely and sanely (and defensively) they have the best chance of walking out on all four legs.
James Hamel is a freelance road tester, auto journalist, and Motor Press Guild full member. But perhaps most importantly, James loves driving around with his pup Roxy (safely) in the back seat. Find past work at Autobytel.com and current work at iSeeCars.com. Contact James at [email protected].