Buckle up all your babies!

Buckle up all your babies!

Recently I was in a car accident.  Hit and run.  Totaled my car.  When all was said and done I was VERY lucky to walk away with nothing more than a concussion.  For those of you keeping track that is the second time I received a concussion from my vehicle.  It is obviously out to get me.  Well that specific vehicle is toast and is currently on some lot being stripped for parts.  Thanks to my WONDERFUL daddy, who did a lot of research and leg work, I have a new (well new to me) vehicle and a new appreciation for seat belts!

I have always been an advocate for doggie seat belts/restraints.  Still, even I was getting a bit lax.  I was piling in pups on top of pups on top of pups in my car and just assuming all would be ok.  Lucky for me the dogs were not with me during my accident.  It would be a completely different outcome had they been hanging out all around me while my car (going about 70) was rear ended (by a car going about 90) and put into a spin on the freeway.  Today all dogs in my car either have to be restrained or in the way back.  I have cheapy seatbelts I use for all those who don’t have their own but STRONGLY encourage all my doggy clients to get their folks to pony up the cash for a good safety restraint.  I wanted to share the new note I now include in all my “report cards” when a pup goes home from vacay with me.  Take a second to read some of these stats/facts and pass it on to fellow dog lovers.  Let’s keep everyone safe!

 Dogs in Cars   

BAD WENDY (I was parked when I took this pic but that doesn't help much.)

BAD WENDY (I was parked when I took this pic but that doesn’t help much.)

As you may or may not have known I was recently in a very bad car accident.  Caused by a hit and run driver my car was hit hard enough to cause extensive damage.  Enough damage to have it declared “totaled.”  It was a wake up call.  I haven’t been as strict as I should have been in restraining my dogs in the vehicle while driving.  For the safety of my pups and myself, that has changed, and I now do what I can to keep everyone secured (or as secured as I can given the tools I have available).  I’ve always suggested doggie seat belts but now I’m STRONGLY suggesting it be something all dog owners invest in.

A few scary stats:

  • An unrestrained 10-pound dog in a crash at 50 mph will exert roughly 500 pounds of force.
  • An unrestrained 80-pound dog in a crash at only 30 mph will exert approximately 2400 pounds of force.
  • Similar to a young child, the front airbag system in a vehicle can be deadly to a dog during a crash if sitting in the front seat, even if restrained.

 Luckily during my accident I was coming home from “human only exercise” so the pups were not with me.  If they had been there is a very real chance that I could have been hurt very badly, even killed by the force of a flying pup.  It is a guarantee that the pups in my car would have had substantial injuries as well.

A couple more things to remember:

  • An unrestrained dog can easily jump out of a vehicle.  Post accident when everything is chaotic and his/her owner is agitated or hurt a normally well behaved dog can panic and run.
  • An unrestrained dog can make it harder for first responders to do their job, which may include helping you.
  • Although not “illegal” to drive with an unrestrained dog, a pet in your lap or taking focus can cause you to be sited as “driving distracted.”


These two get buckled to the backseat now.

These two get buckled to the backseat now.

Riggins has used a harness seatbelt since he was 3 months old.  It is second nature to him.  If it isn’t something you have used before your pup may take some time to get use to it.  Be patient and consistent.  When you put the “restraint” on give lots of love, pets, and a high value treat.  When “buckling in” do another round of love, pets, and a high value treats.  Eventually your pup will consider the act of getting buckled in a positive thing and you can back out on giving treats.  It may not be easy but remember you are doing it for the safety of you, your pup, and your passengers.

What to get:

There are many options of doggie car restraints.  You may have seen stories recently that harness seat belts are ineffective.  Although it is true that some harness restraints do not pass human crash safety tests it still keeps the dog from becoming an animal projectile and causing damage to human passengers.  Don’t worry though.  There are some options that work great!

sleepypod.com – Their harnesses are crash-tested and perform much better than the other harness models. You can watch crash tests of both on their web site. The current harness they have available does require some extra buckling in the car but they have a newer version coming out in early Oct of this year which promises to be a little easier to work with.  Riggins has always had a Krugo seat belt but he will be moving to the Sleepypod brand as soon as possible.

Variocage – mightymitedoggear.com.  Crash-tested kennels which is the safest way for your pup to be transported in the “way back.”

 **** I now buckle up dogs that I have watched many times and were never restrained before.  I haven’t had a single problem.  All of them seem happy to sit in the back seat like they are supposed to.  Even those that use to ride shotgun!  Of course it is always an easier process after a long hike when they are too pooped to pop! ****