Dog owners should be aware of a study performed by MGA Research Corporation, a nationally certified testing facility, which tested 11 different dog harnesses for safety and efficacy. Testing was funded by the Center for Pet Safety, which published the results on its website.
Keeping in mind that there are no approved standards for safety of dogs traveling in cars, MGA analyzed three sizes of each type of harness tested, recognizing that the size of the dog and harness used are different variables that might affect the outcome of a crash.
This study, and many of the harness manufacturers advertising the safety of their products, refer to the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration’s safety standards for child restraint systems, Federal Motor Vehicle Safety Standard (FMVSS) 213. Extrapolating from children to dogs may not be the most accurate method for such testing, but with no other national guidelines available, it provides, at least, for some uniformity.
What pet owners should keep in mind is that not all restraints are safe to use in a car.
- A leashed dog could choke or suffer neck and back injuries, if kept on a leash while in the car, particularly if the leash is tied to a part of the interior of the car.
- Pets traveling inside pet carriers that are not properly secured to the vehicle’s interior, could become even more hazardous projectiles, than if they were not traveling inside a carrier.
Size matters: products should be selected for the type and size of animal for which it will be used. One size fits all will not work the way it is intended to work.
What works for dogs, will often not work for cats, or other pets.
Bottom line: everyone wants their pets and other passengers to be safe inside vehicles. Since federal guidelines do not yet exist for pet harnesses or other safety measures for traveling pets, it pays to read the research available, whether provided by harness manufacturers or third parties, and make sure your pets are not distractions for the driver.