Dogs & Laws

Crash-Tests Show 100% Failure Rate on Dog Restraint Harnesses

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.

 

 

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22 Comments

22 Comments

  1. megan jarrett

    Jun 8, 2014 at 3:15 pm

    I’ ve read that :”sleepy paws safty seat” has passed safty seats requirements. Can’t remember where I read it though…also can’t find it at Pet Smart. Has anyone else read anything about this harness and do you know where I can buy one?

  2. Laura

    Sep 8, 2013 at 10:27 pm

    Dove Lewis is the gold standard for Emergency Care in my area (Portland, OR), and this gentleman is a former member of their Emergency Medicine team. He’s got a website called The Preventative Vet that specifically calls out this brand of pet restraints for being tested and approved:

    http://www.thepreventivevet.com/the-preventive-vet/safety_product_review_bergan_travel_harness_#.Ui0waMbOyAh

  3. LISA SETTLE

    Aug 12, 2013 at 10:27 am

    We use a seatbelt harness, as well, and it definitely keeps Princeton from roaming, and flying around the car, but I get upset when I see a car that I know has airbags (regardless of weight) in passenger seat, and I see a dog sitting there. I always assumed that an airbag would kill a dog (especially a small one). Also, when I see a dog hanging out the window (especially while sitting on the driver). I searched the internet for stats on injuries from these behaviors, but couldn’t find anything. I live in California, and I see this all the time, but am interested in the statistics surrounding it.

  4. Robi

    Jul 5, 2013 at 11:00 am

    What criteria did they use to consider the restraints unsafe and how exactly did they define it? How many times did they test? What were the angles of the crash? How was it evaluated? What were the sizes of the dogs? Oh, and what exactly do they consider proper fitting and use? As a professional dog trainer who has heard stories from hundreds of clients over the last 20 years, I would still advise some sort of restraint (it would have been nice if the article mentioned the comparative benefits of other methods like crating). The risk of a crash test dummy dog knocking the driver’s hand off the wheel or going under the brake pedal is really not an issue? Also, crash test dogs do not run away in fear after an accident and get hit by another car. I am extremely grateful that my own dogs were in tethered crates when an elderly woman didn’t realize she took an exit ramp & hit us at full highway speed as we were passing that exit on the street. I hope people use some common sense before letting their dogs ride loose in the car! (p.s. there are probably no ill effects if crash test dogs stick their whole heads out the window too).

    • Jim

      Jan 26, 2014 at 10:38 am

      ” 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.”….if you cannot read or comprehend what is plainly stated you should not be training dogs! “One harness even decapitated the poor crash-test dummy dog!”….i do not think fufu will be running very far.

    • Cathy

      Sep 29, 2014 at 3:55 pm

      This website has actual video footage of 3 different types of restraints and an excellent explanation as to how the tests were conducted: http://sleepypod.com/safety

  5. Maria

    Jun 30, 2013 at 1:52 pm

    BS. I use Four Paws for my dogs. Over nine years ago i was on my way for my daily walk and did something i had never done before, i strapped one of my dogs who’s turn it was for a walk ( we have 5 )on the front seat. I was involved in an auto accident. I have and will have chronic pain for the rest of my life. The dog harness kept my dog from going through the windshield and he was not hurt at all. I’m a true believer in using a dog harness.

  6. Donna Michalski

    Jun 30, 2013 at 1:22 pm

    I use to use a safety dog restraint harness supposedly safe enough for my dog. He learned quickly how to wiggle his way out of it. And yes, it fit him properly and I followed the directions to a T. Now he uses a soft crate it at least keeps him comfy and out of the front seat. It is however, not considered to be safe for in the case of a car accident. 🙁 super fail. But at least I am doing the best I can for restraining him out of the front seat and I have, knock on wood, not yet had to experience the worst.

  7. Chris West

    Jun 25, 2013 at 12:43 pm

    I do not know the name of my harness that attaches to a seat belt and fortunately I have never had to test it and hope I never will, but it is great in keeping my Dochie from moving around in the car and distracting me while driving and that is safer for her and myself. She can move lie down and stand up to look out the window, but cannot get in my lap while driving, also does well in the back seat and I feel that in an accident she likely would not run away.

  8. Sheilah Blanco

    Jun 25, 2013 at 7:10 am

    THIS IS HORRIBLE! With the costs people pay for those restraint harnesses, you’d think they’d be tested before sales. What rip offs!

  9. allie

    Jun 24, 2013 at 8:37 pm

    New Jersey does have a law against unrestrained animals in vehicles.

  10. Pamela

    Jun 24, 2013 at 6:35 pm

    Amazingly, I am suddenly proud to drive a Subaru! Subaru of America, Inc. We bought a Subaru Outback last fall, when our Ford was totaled, and though Subaru says they are all about animal charities and such, this is hugely different, and I am pleased as punch to see them actually putting their money where few dare to even give lip service!

    • Melissa Fitzgerald

      Aug 12, 2013 at 4:06 pm

      makes me want to buy a Subaru as my next vehicle.

  11. rachel

    Jun 24, 2013 at 5:53 pm

    Regardless of the results of these tests, I’ve witnessed these restraints working on my own dogs. I wouldn’t go on the highway without them. I also use them so that my dog can look out an open window and not jump around the back seat. I think any kind of restraint is better than nothing. I’ve met people whose dogs have shot out through windshields during a crash losing limbs, and from what I’ve experienced with close calls my dogs were in a far better situation when buckled in.

    • Heather Adelhelm

      Aug 12, 2013 at 10:49 am

      I agree. Hopefully my dogs will never be ejected onto the road, risking being hit by other cars. Also, by containing where they go in the car, I hope they make it safer for me as a driver.

  12. Chris

    Jun 24, 2013 at 5:22 pm

    I know you aren’t publishing the names of all the restraint systems you tested but was wondering if you had tested the Champion K-9 Outfitters harnesses and system for vehicles. Thanks.

    • DONNA CYR

      Jun 30, 2013 at 8:46 pm

      While I understand you not wanting to post the name brands of the restraints that failed, can you enlighten us on the brand of the one that did pass?

      • me

        Jul 1, 2013 at 1:11 am

        The article didn’t say any brand passed. It said that of the four tested NONE of them did.

      • Cathy

        Sep 29, 2014 at 3:59 pm

  13. Stacey

    Jun 24, 2013 at 1:35 pm

    Oh and how does the Click and Stay hold up? That is the one that you can use your regular dog leash and the end of the click and stay goes into your seatbelt connector.

  14. Stacey

    Jun 24, 2013 at 1:34 pm

    Is it safe to crate your dog at the same crash test speeds? I always worried about him being banged around in the cage. I have a 93 lb lab and right now I just use a harness by RAC that has a seatbelt loop in the back of the harness.

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