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June 01, 2010

Safe Auto Travel With Your Pet

Dreamstime_8851100 How often have you heard (or even said yourself) that your pet is part of the family?  Strange, then, that very few people take the same care to protect their pets during a car journey  as they do for their children.  You buy the very best quality child seats, the strongest safety belts on the market.  You make sure that the children have sufficient food and drink for the journey, and that they are neither too hot nor too cold.  Then you load in the luggage and supplies.  Last of all, just before you start the engine and set off, you squeeze the dog into whatever space is left and shut the tailgate quickly before everything falls out.

It is much better for the animal's welfare  to consider it in your journey planning routine.  Ask yourself: if you should have an accident, how is the animal protected?  If the animal is in the back, occupying the space between the rear seats and the tailgate, and another vehicle drives into the rear of you, there is a high probability that the rear window will smash, and that the animal will be catapulted at speed out back, probably bouncing off the vehicle behind before going under its wheels to a painful and frightening death.  If the animal is on a seat, unrestrained, then any sort of collision is likely to cause it to fly around the inside of the vehicle, probably injuring itself severely as it collides with headrests, the dashboard, or the occupants - or smashes itself through the windshield.  

There are cases on record where an unrestrained dog has been thrown from the rear seat into the back of the driver's head, killing both.  There are also innumerable accounts of animals having been thrown clear of vehicles during collisions, and have then run off never to be seen again, or have run into the road and caused further accidents - or worse, have been run over and killed by other traffic.  All these general comments refer to all sorts of animals; not just dogs.  So think it through before you put your pet in the car, and show the care and consideration that you have but have never thought about before.

Dreamstime_3668827 The golden rule is to restrain the animal safely.  Tying its neck leash to the door pillar or headrest won't work (you will just end up strangling the poor thing) so check out the many properly designed pet restraints and get one fitted properly to your car.  Alternatively, restrain your furry friend by putting him/her in a pet carrier which has been firmly fixed to the body of the car.  Make sure that the carrier is the right size.  It should be big enough for the animal to be able to stand, turn, and lay, but not so big that the animal slides around inside it when you drive around corners.

Also make sure that you regularly stop and offer your pet some water (and food on longer journeys).  If you need to get out for a break and to stretch your legs, so does your pet - so don't leave him shut-up inside to wilt (or even suffocate); take him with you. If in doubt, consider visiting a pet forum for advice. There are many websites that offer experienced advice, and will provide free answers to your pet questions.

Ap_Simon_Williams Simon Williams writes mostly on travel, environmental, and pet features. He loves travelling with his family and is passionate about their safety, especially new arrival Ben.

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