July 15, 2011 — Seeing a dog sticking his head out the car window enjoying the sights and smells on a sunny day is super cute, but is it safe?
Increasingly, many are saying it’s not.
One concern is that just having a dog free in the car can be distracting to a driver, for example, if your dog barks, is being petted or scolded. Another reason is that if the driver steps on the brakes, your seat belt may protect you but your dog many not be so lucky.
Experts say that in a car with brakes being applied while driving 35 miles per hour, even a small dog can create a force the equivalent of 2,700 pound baby elephant! Bad for your dog … and could be bad for you too.
So, what to do?
There are actually many different kinds of dog seat belts on the market depending on the size of your dog and the kind of restraint you want.
There are harness and booster type seats, ones that look more like leashes where your dog can move around a bit and get comfortable. And there are ones for the cargo part of your car.
Is your dog going to like it? Probably not so much, at least at first.
And while law enforcement officials seem to agree that this is a safer way to travel for your pet, it’s not a law. In fact, right now only a handful of states even require safety belts for children on school buses! Wearing a seat belt only became a law (in most states) in 1984, not even 30 years ago.