In the spirit of full disclosure – I am a dog lover. I am also a Pet Travel Safety Ambassador on Toyota's P.E.T. (Pet Expert Team).
I was fortunate enough to be invited by Toyota to travel the country and educate pet owners about the importance of securing their pets during travel.
Because of that passion, I was excited to see Northjersey.com Road Warrior, John Cichowski’s report last week that Col. Frank Rizzo, police superintendent for the New Jersey Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals (NJSPCA), issued a warning that any motorist found driving with an unrestrained pet will face stiff penalties. I was also happy to see Patch.com author Ann Piccirillo’s article ‘Unbuckled Dogs Draw Stiffer Penalties Than People’ which solicited public opinion about the crack down on pets not secured in cars. I was surprised however to see the feedback from pet owners. Piccirillo posed the question, “How do you feel about this new law?” and posted a poll asking:
Do you agree with the new law requiring pets to be restrained in cars?
Yes, I think this is a good law to protect the safety of pets.
No, I think the law is intrusive.
At the time of this posting there are 18 votes, including mine.
1 voting YES it is a good law (guess whose that was!) & 17 voting NO the law is intrusive. INTRUSIVE…seriously???!!!
Hey folks...it's called common sense. Dogs can be extremely distracting to drivers and cause traffic accidents. Not to mention that there are many solutions to secure your pet for travel safety. Consider this information provided by the 2011 AAA/Kurgo Pet Passenger Safety Survey.
Three in 10 respondents (29%) admit to being distracted by their dog while driving
Sixty-five percent of dog owners admit to engaging in at least one potentially distracting activity while driving with their dog, including:
• Petting their dog (52%)
• Using hands or arms to restrict dog’s movement or hold dog in place when putting on brakes (23%)
• Using hands/arms to keep dog from climbing from the backseat to the front seat (19%)
• Reaching into backseat to interact with dog (18%)
• Allowing dog to sit in lap or holding dog while driving (17%)
• Giving food or treats to dog (13%)
• Playing with dog (4%)
• Taking a photo of dog (3%)
The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) reports that 20 percent of injury crashes in 2009 involved reports of distracted driving
Eighty-four percent of respondents bring their dogs on car trips but do not use a restraint
The reasons for not using a pet travel restraint include:
• My dog is calm and do not think he/she needs a restraint (42%)
• Never considered it (39%)
• Just take dog on short trips (29%)
• Want dog to be able to put head out window (12%)
• Too complicated/too much trouble (7%)
• Want dog to have fun in the car (3%)
• Want to be able to hold dog (3%)
An unrestrained 10-pound dog in a crash at 50 mph will exert roughly 500 pounds of force
An unrestrained 80-pound dog in a crash at only 30 mph will exert approximately 2400 pounds of force
Of the 16 percent who use a pet restraint, the AAA/Kurgo survey found the most frequently used are:
• Pet harness/safety belt (56%)
• Hard-sided pet travel crate (30%)
• Pet vehicle seat (10%)
• Vehicle pet barrier (8%)
• Soft-sided pet travel crate (7%)
• Other (5%)
So, while you might find the law ‘intrusive’ consider that you might change your tune if you or a loved one is hit and seriously injured or killed because the driver who hit you did so after being distracted by their dog jumping around in the car. You might change your tune if you slam on the brakes for any reason and your dog becomes a projectile and dies from hitting the back of your seat or the windshield. You might change your tune if you get into a collision, your doors pop open on impact, your dog darts off from fear of the accident and gets hit and killed by oncoming traffic (or causes another accident from running in traffic). You might change your tune if you're knocked unconscious in an accident and your dog becomes 'protective/aggressive' and Police/First Aid can’t get to you to save your life.
I for one (apparently the only one!) applaud the NJSPCA’s decision to crack down on ‘Canine Click-It-Or-Ticket’. I hope that the effort someday saves your life, or the life of your pet, or a loved one.
Click here for the full details of the 2011 AAA/Kurgo Pet Passenger Safety Survey
Take the poll yourself and see Ann Piccirillo’s Patch.com article here, 'Unbuckled Dogs Draw Stiffer Penalties Than People'