If you are a dog owner and a fan of Zerimax, then you already know the importance of dog seat belts and securing your dog while driving. (Hopefully you are part of the 16 percent of owners who actually do it.) You know the dangers and distractions of riding with your pet. Finally, others are taking notice too.
Subaru, already known for being safety-conscience and pet-friendly [see here], began funding research by the Center for Pet Safety; the first rounds of testing began this summer at a laboratory in Virginia, usually used specifically for testing child seats through crash simulations. But instead of babies and toddlers, a 25-pound terrier, a 45-pound border collie and a 75-pound golden retriever dummies were strapped in.
The results of the first rounds released this spring are disheartening, even shocking. While harnesses secure a dog in the backseat, preventing it from distracting the driver, in a crash, the tethers break -- failing to protect the human or canine occupants during an accident.
In an interview with Automotive News, Dave Sullivan, the marketing, launch and strategy manager at Subaru of America, said, "We'd like to see something developed over time, but it's not really our job. We're trying to do our best to raise the issue."
Other auto companies are contributing to this pet project; both Toyota and Volvo sell barriers to protect -- or at least corral -- the dog in the luggage area. According to a 2011 "Wall Street Journal" article, "Company research shows that a 60-pound unbelted child in the back seat traveling 30 mph can suddenly turn into 2,700 pounds of force. 'A pet of the same size would become like a baby elephant' hurtling through the car, says Dan Johnston, spokesman for Volvo Cars North America."
Ford is showing its support by partnering with the Humane Association to decrease the 100,000 dog fatalities each year caused when traveling in truck beds. While the truck company hasn't specifically endorsed a seat belt for dogs, bringing them inside the cab is at least an improvement.
It is clearly a step in the right direction that automotive companies are taking an interest and responsibility in these matters; but ultimately, until there are specific standards and regulations, the risks and dangers remain.
Watch the video to see the crash results for yourself, and keep an eye out for the second-round of results from the Center for Pet Safety to be released mid-October.