5 On Your Side

Crates may not be enough to keep dogs safe on road trips

Posted 6:07 p.m. Wednesday

Whether it’s a weekend getaway or a week-long vacation, many people want the entire family to be there, including the dogs.

Many people put their dogs in a crate during car rides, which is better than allowing them to just jump in the back seat, but experts say a crate still isn’t safe enough.

When pets are not properly restrained, they can be seriously hurt and even cause serious injuries to passengers in the car.

“During a crash or if you slam on the breaks, pets can act as projectiles if they are not secured, and they can also distract drivers from keeping their eyes on the road,” said Consumer Reports Auto expert Jen Stockburger.

Plenty of pet restraint products are on the market, including harnesses and carriers, but many that say they have been “crash tested” are based only on manufacturers’ claims. Pet products are an unregulated $60 billion industry.

The Center for Pet Safety, along with Subaru, conducted tests in 2015. They tested harnesses, crates for bigger dogs and carriers for small dogs and cats.

Among the top performing pet restraints were the Sleepypod Air carrier, which costs about $160, and the Sleepypod Clickit Sport, which costs between $70 and $80.

“You want peace of mind because you never know when that crash is going to happen,” said Center for Pet Safety founder Lindsey Wolko.

The Gunner Kennels’ G1 Intermediate crate for $500 was also a top choice. Safety straps can be added to the carrier for an additional $75.

“These straps will help prevent the crate from hitting the back of the passenger seat,” Wolko said.

As the size of the carrier needed goes up, so does the price for many models.

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