Newspaper article The Morning Bulletin (Rockhampton, Australia)

Protecting Precious Pooch; with No Official Standard for Pet Restraints the Quality Products Varies from Rubbish to Robust

Newspaper article The Morning Bulletin (Rockhampton, Australia)

Protecting Precious Pooch; with No Official Standard for Pet Restraints the Quality Products Varies from Rubbish to Robust

Article excerpt

Byline: CRAIG DUFF

ASK any owner and they'll say their dog is part of the family - yet most have no idea how to ensure the pet's comfort on car trips and survival in an accident.

We buckle up, check our kids' restraints are properly fastened and then let the pooch wander around the cabin or in the tray without protection.

And pets need protection in a car crash, as they are subject to the same deceleration as human occupants.

More than 5000 pets are hurt or killed in crashes in Australia each year. Spinal and leg injuries, the most common, are painful, long-term matters that are expensive to treat.

Restraining your beloved pooch in the first place is a far less costly exercise, one that could spare you not just from veterinary bills but from traffic fines. It is illegal for a pet to not be properly restrained - and that absolutely means not sitting on the driver's lap.

Fines and demerit points apply and the consequences can include jail time under the prevention of cruelty to animals provisions if your pet is injured or hurts someone else during a collision.

There is no official standard for pet restraints, meaning the quality of products varies from rubbish to robust.

The NRMA highlighted the problem in 2013 when it tested 25 dog restraints. Only two, the Purina Roadie and Sleepypod Clickit, restrained the animal in both a simulated 20kmh crash and a "drop" test at 35kmh.

NRMA engineers identified the plastic buckles, similar to those found on backpacks, as the weak link in the other products.

These buckles gave way when the test dummy animal's weight abruptly hit them, making them useless in the event of a crash.

NRMA Insurance head of research Robert McDonald says testing shows an effective harness is critical.

"Most people using the commonly available harnesses are doing so in a genuine attempt to keep their pets safe," he says. "However our testing has unfortunately shown that most harnesses, while effective at restraining pets, are not safety devices and do little to prevent injury in a common low-speed crash."

Similar results have been seen overseas. Since 2013 in the US, the Centre for Pet Safety has teamed with Subaru of America to test harnesses and to date has approved only the Sleepypod as a safety restraint. …

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