Pet on Board – Tips for Safe Travel With Your Pet

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With pet-friendly hotels and restaurants becoming more commonplace, people are taking their pets along to enjoy the fun when they travel.  Once you’ve decided to take your pet along for a car ride; think safety, first.

cats-in-car

Traveling with a Cat:

Traveling with your cat in a motor vehicle requires one crucial tip.  Always place your cat in a secured carrier within your vehicle.  Easy enough.    I tried free rein in the SUV just once with Smoki,  and it’s a miracle we arrived to our destination unscathed.   Smoki was very tiny when I took her on her first ride to the vet.  I had not yet purchased a carrier, so I took a cardboard box and cut holes on all sides, put in a towel to make her comfy and away we went to our first vet appointment; less than a three-mile journey.  What could go wrong on such a short drive?  The sky’s the limit.    Didn’t take long to realize I had a feline Houdini on my hands as she escaped from the box. Once out, Smoki proceeded to crawl throughout the vehicle before coming to her final resting place atop my seat’s headrest.  She even made her way to the floorboard and beneath my legs which could have resulted in her restricting the use of  my vehicle’s foot petals. From that point on, I realized the ONLY safe travel option for us is a secured crate. An unsecured pet can become a furry projectile in an accident or even if you have to stop suddenly.

Baylie in car

 

Traveling with a Dog:

Obviously, I am a slow learner because, I used the same transport arrangement when I rescued Baylie.   I admit, when she was just a pup, I placed her in my lap as we drove to the vet – A big NO NO!  But, as she grew,  I had enough fortitude to realize that this is neither safe for me, Baylie or other drivers.  Dogs have a difficult time gripping if you should suddenly need to apply brakes.   Even though cats have just one option; a  secured crate, dogs have the option of a crate or travel harness.
images0KN21TDP I suppose you could use a harness on a cat if they are tolerant.   How do you secure a crate in an automobile?  Most SUV’s, minivans, crossovers and station wagons are equipped with D-Rings to utilize for tethering the  carrier.  There are products on the market for securing your pet in a motor vehicle; including harnesses that utilize your vehicle’s seat belts, such as Kurgo’s Tru-Fit Car Safety Harness.
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Here are some interesting statistics:

When traveling by car, do you have your pet sit in your lap or on the seat next to you?  Do you pet and console your pet while driving?  Or, are you wrestling with her/him to prevent her/him from climbing from seat to seat, or in the floorboard?   All are considered risky behavior which can put you, your pet and others in danger, according to a 2011 Survey conducted by AAA and Kurgo.

  • Nearly six in 10 (56%) respondents have driven with their dog in a vehicle at least once a month over the past year, according to the AAA/Kurgo survey.
  • Three in 10 respondents (29%) admit to being distracted by their dog while driving.
  • Sixty-five percent of dog owners admit to engaging in at least one potentially distracting activity while driving with their dog.

Activities engaged in while driving with dogs by survey respondents include: 

  • Petting their dog (52%) –
  • Using hands or arms to restrict dog’s movement or hold dog in place while applying your brakes (23%)
  • Using hands/arms to keep dog from climbing from the back seat to the front seat
    (19%)
  •  Reaching into back seat to interact with dog (18%)
  •  Allowing your dog to sit in lap or holding dog while driving (17%)
  • Giving food or treats to dog (13%)
  • Playing with dog (4%)
  • Taking a photo of dog (3%)

Looking away from the road for only two seconds doubles your risk of being in a crash, according to the AAA Foundation for Traffic Safety.

The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) reports that 20 percent of injury crashes in 2009 involved reports of distracted driving. More than four in five (83%) respondents agree that having an unrestrained dog in a moving car can be dangerous.

Only 16% of dog owners who have driven with their pet use some form of restraint while their dog is in the vehicle.

Survey Methodology

The online study was conducted among a sample of 1,000 dog owners who have driven with their dog in past 12 months. The study results have an average statistical error of +/- 3.1 percent at the 95 percent confidence level.

Related Article: The ASPCA’s Top Ten Tips For Safe Travel With Your Pets 

Summer is the perfect time to enjoy travel and the outdoors.  Make sure your other family member is safely secured inside your vehicle.

Orlando, Fl – 7/19/2011 Heather Hunter Public Relations AAA, NHTSA 2009 Distracted Driving, ASPCA.com Pet Travel Tips.