Pet owners often consider their pets as part of their family, and so try to treat their pets as they would any other member of their family. This means that they will often consider taking their pets when they decide to take a road trip–whether for one day or for a longer vacation. Obviously one would then need to secure their pet safely in the car, just as they secure themselves and their family members, which means turning to pet safety belts or carriers. But what if the pet carrier one has for their pet places them in even more danger?

Pet Safety in Cars

Joy Braunstein, the Executive Director of the Western Pennsylvania Humane Society, personally understands the importance of pet safety in the car. As a devout animal lover, it is no wonder that Joy’s German Shepherd, Coda, is always included in family events. Recently, however, Coda’s participation in what was meant to be a pleasant family outing opened Joy’s eyes to the extreme dangers of traveling with an unsecured pet in the car. On their way home from a day of hiking, Joy and her family were involved in a car crash when the weather turned bad and her car hydroplaned on the road. Coda was not in a crate at the time of the crash, and Joy wishes she had been, because her freedom in the car only made a bad situation worse. In response to the crash, Coda jumped into the back seat and lay down on the kids in an effort to protect them, which may have seemed good in theory. The only problem is that when the time came for rescuers to try and get Joy and her family out of the car, Coda refused to move–forcing the kids to remain trapped in the car. Joy had no choice but to crawl out of the passenger side of the car and coax Coda from the vehicle. Joy admits that trying to deal with a large, stressed out German Shepherd is difficult–especially when one is struggling with the already-stressful situation of a car crash.

Fortunately, no one in Joy’s car wound up seriously injured, but Joy still learned a big lesson. After all, she figures that if she and her kids are restrained by seat belts to protect themselves in the event of a crash, her dog should be as well. With that matter settled, Joy was faced with a new issue–how can she restrain her dog without further endangering her life?

Study on Pet Carriers in Cars

Experts agree that the best way to keep a pet safe in the car is by putting them in a pet carrier, which seems simple enough. And it would be–if all pet crates were created equally secure for the pets who ride in them. Unfortunately, the fact is that not all pet crates are created equally secure, and some are little more than a box that turns into a deathtrap in the event of a car crash.

Lindsey Wolko, the founder and CEO of The Center for Pet Safety, admits that the industry of pet carrier and crates is simply unregulated, which means that consumers may be buying products they believe are intended to protect their pets’ lives and which actually are entirely unable to do so. Often times, these products have never been tested or crash-tested in order to prove their workability. The Center for Pet Safety and Subaru of America engineers have decided to change that, by conducting the first ever crash tests on pet crates. The results were nothing short of horrifying, as in many of the tests the stuffed animals used to represent pets went flying out of the crates and through the vehicle. In other tests the crates themselves basically exploded on impact, throwing dangerous debris that could shoot everywhere inside the car.

The tests indicated that using anchors for a pet carrier is vital because it will help to ensure that the carrier itself won’t go flying through the car in the event of a sudden stop or a crash. It also indicated that three carriers clearly outshine the rest–withstanding the force of a sudden crash in a way that will better protect the lives of the pet and vehicle passengers: the Gunner Kennel with anchor straps, the Sleepy Pod Mobile Pet bed with Handilock, and the PetEgo Forma Frame Jet Set carrier with a latch connection. Regardless of the restraining device a pet owner chooses for their pet, it is important to recognize that pet safety in cars should not be any more overlooked than human safety and that they have a responsibility to their pets, and their families, to secure their pet when transporting them in vehicles.