We love our pets and often treat them like full-fledged members of the family, and like other loved ones we want to keep them safe and healthy. That's why many pet owners opt for car pet restraints to secure their furry friends in the event of an accident, just as we do with human passengers and seat belts. The problem is, according to scientific findings by a nonprofit animal-safety advocacy group, that pet restraint you've been using is essentially useless.
The Center for Pet Safety's 2011 study tested the general effectiveness of canine restraints for large dogs using Federal Motor Vehicle Safety Standard tests designed for child restraint systems. In the crashes, the researchers' 55-pound crash-test dog consistently fared poorly. In a simulated collision of a car traveling 30 mph, findings included: "extremely low" likelihood that the animal would survive; danger to humans and vehicle fixtures when the dog's body becomes a missile; and choking or other bodily harm to the animal due to harness cinching.
"Alarmingly, the pilot study revealed a 100-percent failure rate," the center stated in a report. "None of the harnesses were deemed safe enough to protect the dog and the humans in the event of an accident."
Because no federal safety standards exist for animal crash safety, the Center for Pet Safety did not reveal the names of specific manufacturers whose pet restraints had failed. The center said its focus is on establishing measurable safety standards, then helping to guide restraint manufacturers in testing their products according to those standards.
"In other words, manufacturers are not ignoring safety standards," the center stated. "There simply are no existing standards in place. This is not the fault of the manufacturer. Pet product safety is an emerging issue, and the Center for Pet Safety was formed to address it."
Earlier this year the center announced that it was teaming with Subaru to develop standards for testing pet restraints and that it would announce the ones that performed best.