I have to admit, in researching this topic, I was SHOCKED to find out how many dog harnesses failed to provide the results they promised, the most basic being to protect your dog (and to protect you from a flying dog!) in the event of a car accident.
Before we talk about specific harnesses and safety tips, let’s talk about the Center for Pet Safety because they will be a large focus of this discussion.
What is the Center for Pet Safety?
The Center for Pet Safety is a registered 501(c)(3) non-profit research and advocacy organization dedicated to protecting pets and the people who love them.
The center was founded by Lindsey Wolko after her own dog, Maggie, was seriously injured in a car accident when her dog harness failed her.
Here is more about Lindsey from the CPS website:
Lindsey A. Wolko, Founder/CEO. A long-term pet safety advocate, Ms. Wolko leads a mission that is personal to every pet owner. With a keen understanding of the pet industry, she has authored safety standards for pet products, launched a certification program, counseled pet product manufacturers around the globe and works tirelessly for consumer and companion animal safety.
Ms. Wolko has a background in project/program management as well governance/controls development. Ms. Wolko holds a bachelor’s degree from George Mason University. She currently leads the research division of CPS.
Let’s move on to a couple of very important safety tips before we talk about finding the right dog harness.
General Car Safety
Pets should ALWAYS go in the back seat! Just as we would never put a toddler or infant in the front seat of a car, we should NEVER allow a pet in the front seat, even if it’s restrained.
The impact from a deployed airbag can kill your pet or cause serious injury.
Additionally, loose pets can be a distraction and even get between the brake pedal and floorboard while you’re driving.
Don’t allow your pet to stick its head out the window. While most people say “awww” when they see a cute dog hanging its head out the window, allowing this is a bad idea that can result in serious injury. If your dog isn’t restrained, he/she can fall out. Additionally, even if restrained, your dog can be hit with debris causing injury to his head or eyes.
Picking Out a Safe Harness
Is it CPS certified?
First, it’s important to know that the Center for Pet Safety is the ONLY independent nonprofit research and consumer advocacy organization certifying pet car restraints.
Their number one priority is the safety of you and your pets. CPS has its own certification program that involves fair and unbiased testing.
What’s unfortunate (and even untruthful in some cases!) when it comes to many manufacturers’ claims that their restraints are “crash tested” but aren’t certified by the CPS is that these tests are VERY subjective and can mislead you into thinking they are safe. The restraint we purchased for our dogs stated on the packaging that it was crash-tested but it failed in the video (below) presented by CPS.
While looking at reviews is helpful, it’s important to remember that some manufacturers buy reviews. Be sure to look for the CPS certified logo!
Train Your Dog For The Car
The first few times they were in the car, our dogs weren’t exactly sure what to do. Since many dogs are unsure in new environments, it’s a good idea to praise them and make it a positive experience.
Start by taking them on short trips and then gradually increase their time spent in the car.
Avoid Zipline-Style and Tether Dog Car Harnesses
If you can’t afford a harness that is CPS certified, at least be sure to avoid this style of harness, which can do more harm than good.
It’s easy to think that letting your dog have a bit of “roaming room” is a good idea, but if your pup has too much room he can get stuck and cause a distraction, putting you and him in danger.
We hope this episode has encouraged you to start restraining your beloved pets in the car (if you don’t already). If you already do, please be sure to check the safety of your particular harness. If you really want to “level-up” your activism, send a quick email to the manufacturer of your dog’s restraint to inquire more about its safety and to urge them to get certified by the CPS.
Taking this small step will let manufacturers know that we pay attention to these things. Remember, we vote with our dollars, so be sure to support those companies that are looking out for you and your family, including your furry family members!
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