2001-Tue Feb 28 09:33:55 EST 2017
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A few months ago, one of my feline patients suffered a scary
double whammy. On a road trip, her owners’ car was struck by
another during a high-speed incident. The carrier she was riding in
was ejected from the vehicle and, presumably upon landing, broke
open. Though no one saw her run, by the time the proverbial dust had
settled, she was nowhere to be found.
Every year, beloved pets suffer in all kinds of unnecessary ways.
Sometimes they’re violent (think car wrecks and being hit by cars)
but, mostly, they’re insidiously habitual, if equally tragic (like
being lost during travel and subsequently euthanized in the
name of population control).
Some of these may seem like strange and improbable events, possibilities
you’re unlikely to encounter in real life. But others are way more
common than pet owners may realize.
Take motor-vehicle crashes as an
example: Though no firm statistics exist on pets as passengers in motor-vehicle accidents, based on the numbers of cars, accidents and pets
riding in cars, we can assume that accidents are a relatively common
cause of injury and death among pets in the U.S.
Which brings me to my list of common automobile safety features pet owners should not ignore, beginning with the poster child for such items: the seat belt.
1. Pet seat belts. Though widely regarded as the No. 1 safety measure responsible
for the dramatic reduction in accidental human deaths in
recent decades, seat belts are only rarely employed by pet owners.
What’s up with that?
As it turns out, seat belts aren’t employed in pets for the same
reasons they meet with resistance among people: They seem like an
unnecessary annoyance. The “It won’t happen to me” mentality is
widely believed to be responsible for this irrational mind-set.
Meanwhile, pets are
injured or prove injurious to others. Sadly, I’ve seen
lots of examples firsthand.
2. Carrier restraints. Pet owners who travel with pets in carriers tend to assume their
pets are safe as long as they’re contained. Unfortunately, my
personal experience contradicts this. Not only does the
example in my opening paragraph disprove this theory, I’ve been
unlucky enough to have observed the unnecessary deaths of several
pets who’d been contained in unsecured carriers during a crash.
Though a carrier restraint can't guarantee your pet won't get hurt in an accident, preventing the carrier from becoming a projectile inside the car may have its merits.
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