The Center for Pet Safety (CPS) a non-profit research and advocacy organization dedicated to companion animal and consumer safety, performed a series of crash-tests to determine the level of protection that vehicle restraint harnesses provided to the dogs wearing them.
The results of these first-of-its-kind tests proved discouraging. Not a single harness passed the tests.
According to the American Automobile Association, about 20% of pet parents don’t restrain their dogs in the car, either in a crate or with a safety harness. But, for those that do, we can’t help but wonder if it’s doing any good at all.
The Center for Pet Safety conducted the rigorous crash testing on commonly available pet safety restraints using realistic, specially designed, crash test dogs, not live animals. A 55-pound crash dummy dog was used to see how the seat belts would hold up in a collision at 30 miles per hour, patterning the same motor vehicle safety standards used to test child seats. Of the four popular dog car harness brands, none held up in the tests. All of them demonstrated that they either could lead to plausibly serious or fatal injuries for not only the canine but driver, too.
One harness even decapitated the poor crash-test dummy dog!
The CPS refused to release the names of the brands tested, for fear of consumers discontinuing their use. Veterinarian Kim Haddad told CBS Miami, that while injuries are typically much worse when the animal is not restrained at all, simply using a harness isn’t enough.
“Something is better than nothing, but again, it is only going to be as good as the manufacturer, the fit and the user application of the product,” said Haddad.
As a result of their preliminary crash-testing, and the shockingly poor success rate of the products tested, Subaru of America has now partnered with The Center for Pet Safety and will fund further testing of pet car safety restraints.
Currently, there are no performance standards or test protocols in the U.S. for pet travel products. Although many manufacturers claim to test their products, without test standards, these claims cannot be substantiated. Together, Subaru and the Center for Pet Safety will create standards for testing restraints, while announcing those that perform best.
While no states currently make it illegal to travel with an unrestrained dog (some states are in the process of passing legislation!), CPS worries that passing this legislation will create a false sense of security for pet owners. CPS is calling for mandatory testing of pet safety harnesses, similar to the testing performed on child safety restraints (car seats), and that lawmakers familiarize themselves with these products and the developed safety protocols before passing any such laws.