Passenger Pets 101: Why You Should Be Using Pet Safety Restraints

Dog in safety harness in car

You take your pets places, right? In fact, if you live anywhere but the deepest inner city (or somewhere with really progressive public transportation), your pets probably ride in a vehicle from time to time. After all, they’re your family. Why wouldn’t you go places with them? So it stands to reason you’d take the same precautions for them you would for yourself, right?

If you’re like me, you’d never think of going without the simplest of modern vehicular safety protections (i.e., a seat belt). You’d be cautious about how your tiniest humans are restrained. You’d be sure they were seated so the airbags wouldn’t hurt them. And you’d absolutely never let your human children ride in your lap.

Regrettably, little of the same can be said for the average passenger pet. Few are treated to the same safety concessions humans (mostly) follow and are required by law to adhere to in many states.

We Should All Know Better

No restraints. No restricted movement. Freedom to climb on laps, loll their tongues out of open windows and perch their feet precariously on steering wheels, dashboards, and windowsills alike. Those who let their pets engage in this behavior have little regard for the possible dangers involved, including airbag deployment hazards. I mean, have you ever wondered what happens when a pet comes between you and the airbag?

Perhaps you’ve seen it all, too. If so, it probably makes you angry. How can they just let that dog run amok in their car? Do they really think it’s safe to leave him loose in the back of their truck?

And yet, if you’re like me, you’re not wholly without blame. I’ve been guilty of more than a few pet-related vehicular infractions. Because whether your pets ride shotgun quietly curled up on the front seat, lounge languidly in the back of your SUV or run circles around the inside of your car, they’re often equally at risk of being injured, killed or worse — becoming projectiles that’ll maim or kill you and other passengers, too.

Consider the What-ifs

Then there’s that extra safety issue to ponder when you're injured in your vehicle: How comfortable will first responders be when they have to remove you from the vehicle, only to confront your stressed and possibly injured pet, too? No, they’re not likely to make too many concessions to your beloved pet’s welfare when your health is at stake.

All that trauma is no fun to think about, I know. But I’ll argue it’s absolutely necessary. If you’re to do right by all your vehicle’s passengers, you must confront the very real possibilities each and every time you get into a vehicle with your pet.

That is, unless you make it a habit to restrain your pets. Every. Single. Time. That way, you can rest easier knowing you've done what you can to safeguard your pet from the evils of vehicular trauma. Doing right by your pets will become second nature, just as reaching for your seatbelt has become habitual for you.


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