How often have you seen drivers cruising around with one hand on the steering wheel and a small dog on their lap? It drives me crazy! Why? Because that dog’s chances of surviving a car crash are somewhere between slim and none. If the collision doesn’t kill it, the air bag most likely will.
Please don’t do this.
Most pet owners will eventually have to travel at least a short distance with their pets in the car. Whether it’s heading out on a family vacation, driving to the vet’s office, or even evacuating due to a hurricane or some other disaster, you want your pet passengers have a safe trip. Since car accidents happen to even the most careful of drivers, please take steps to protect your pet.
In a car crash, anything not anchored or tied down gets launched. Being tossed around the vehicle makes it more likely that your pets will be severely injured or killed. It also puts any other passengers in the car at risk of being clobbered by their flying bodies. If your unrestrained pets do survive the crash, they may run away and get lost, wander into traffic and get hit, or even prevent paramedics from reaching crash victims.
When driving with dogs, use a properly sized travel crate or a travel harness that attaches to the seat or seat belt. Cats generally do best in sturdy pet carriers. Since they’re the most vulnerable to crush injuries, guinea pigs and other pocket pets travel well in small, hard-sided carriers lined with a shallow layer of their normal litter. If necessary, fold a piece of cardboard or tag board across the bottom front of the carrier and tape it in place to keep the litter from falling out. Just make sure your pet still has sufficient air flow and can’t chew on any adhesives.
If at all feasible, keep pets in the back seat or in the open cargo area of a station wagon or SUV. Airbags may save adult lives, but they open with enough force to kill a pet. Even proper restraints won’t necessarily protect an animal from an airbag. Besides, when pets ride up front, it increases the likelihood that they’ll distract the driver.
Driving with pets is distracting enough. Limit other distractions like cell phones. You might also want to bring along comfort items like a favorite blanket or toy to minimize your pet’s restlessness so that everyone has a smoother ride.
Keep them company
Disaster can strike in “just a minute.” Whenever possible, avoid leaving pets alone in a parked car. Without the vehicles climate control systems running, the interior temperature of a vehicle can skyrocket in the summer or plummet in the winter. Leaving an unattended park car running is even more dangerous. Neither thumbs nor a driver’s license is necessary to accidentally shift a car into gear.
If you plan to be on the road for any length of time, be prepared with water and food for your animals. Don’t forget to bring along cleaning supplies, towels or extra litter to soak up any accidents so that your pet stays comfortable. You might also want to plan on taking breaks along the way.
My pets are part of my family. Whether I’m driving with a dog, a cat, a guinea pig or other pocket pet, or even a combination of critters, I want all my passengers, both human and animal, to have a safe trip. Don’t you want the same?
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