Whole Dog Journal's Blog July 27, 2015

Car Safety

Posted at 10:16AM - Comments: (18)

One shouldn’t watch the latest videos from the Center for Pet Safety (CPS) on a full stomach. Even though NO ACTUAL DOGS ARE HARMED in the videos, watching a few of them may make you feel ill.

The sole survivor of the CPS crash-testing of crates that claim to provide crash-protection for large dogs, being readied for testing at the CPS test facility.

The videos are the product of the CPS’s latest round of testing safety restraint systems for dogs who are passengers in our cars. The CPS, you may remember, is the nonprofit organization prominently featured in WDJ’s January 2015 article, “Restraining Order,” which discussed CPS’s testing of car safety restraints for dogs. (Also discussed at length: the fact that only two harnesses on the market passed the crash-tests. The article, available free to our subscribers, appears here: /issues/17_13/features/Our-Safety-Harness-Recommendation_21126-1.html).

CPS has been testing crates and small-dog carriers – including “regular” carriers (about which no crash-testing or crashworthiness claims have been made) and those that are being specifically marketed with claims of providing increased safety for dogs in car crashes. Some have been sold as “crash-tested,” even though you can see from the CPS’s videos that the products clearly could not have PASSED any significant crash test.

The CPS developed a number of canine crash test dummies so as to replicate the weight and shape of dogs of several sizes. Appropriately weighted and shaped dummies test the products far more accurately and thoroughly than, say, a stuffed animal dog that tips the scales at a fraction of a real dog’s weight.

Even though you know they are dummies, not real dogs, it still makes a person queasy to watch the videos, which show the dummy dogs getting crushed by the fragments of splintering crates, thrown out of disintegrating crates, and lodged half in and half out of wrecked crates. Only one crate for large dogs survived the crash tests intact, and only a few carriers for small dogs kept the small-dog dummies safely inside the carrier and on the seat.

Check out the study and videos (if you dare) – and then let us know: Will these studies change the way you transport your dog?

CPS Crate study:


CPS Carrier Study:







Comments (18)

I too bought a Clickit Sport and have been unable to use it due to the absolute straightjacket it puts my GSD in. I even bought a car seatbelt extender and that didn't fit either. It looks like a well made product but I am using another makers product that I am not that confident in but at least it's something. I, and I know this is ridiculous, use these harnesses mostly driving back and forth to Florida, otherwise too much effort to jock my dog in on a run into town. I wish brilliant minds could come up with a quick and safe way to restrain my dog. I have never tried crates as I always seem to be lugging stuff in my van and that wouldn't work.

Posted by: Woof | August 24, 2016 2:54 PM    Report this comment

Many of the manufacturers of these crates seem to have honest, but unrealistic confidence in the safety of their products. One wonders what kind of testing procedures they employ in their own evaluations to be so misled. Bravo to Subaru for funding these extremely worthwhile studies by CPS!

Posted by: Alvin Hill | August 4, 2016 6:12 PM    Report this comment

Based on this article, and the crash tests, we bought a Sleepypod Air for our 13# dog. Very happy with it, great quality, sturdy and comfortable, she's ridden many miles in it. Yes, it was expensive, but safety is very important to me. I like knowing I've done my best by her in the event of a crash.

Posted by: Carolyn M | August 4, 2016 2:46 PM    Report this comment

I wish they had evaluated the Pupsaver system. I'm looking at both and can't figure out which is better, seems like Pupsaver may win out...

Posted by: Amsebed | August 4, 2016 12:00 PM    Report this comment

I wish they had evaluated the Pupsaver system. It's between Sleepypod and Pupsaver ....

Posted by: Amsebed | August 4, 2016 11:59 AM    Report this comment

I have looked at a number of doggie seat belts and have not been able to figure out how use them to restrain two big dogs in the back seat. I have emailed a couple dog seat belt companies about how to configure the restraints for two dogs and received a "packaged response" of how to use the seat belt for one dog and ignored my question. Would like to use restraints but can't figure out how to do so and have the dogs comfortable and happy.

Posted by: Alexpal | August 4, 2016 11:44 AM    Report this comment

I'd been wanting the Gunner crates for awhile, 2 would be 46 inches across. So I bought a Toyota Highlander that had exactly 46 inches! Then ordered the crates. The company is great. Wish they made a smaller one for my Papillon, for short rides he goes in with my smaller golden, she's only 45 lbs. I had a hard time finding water holders can't remember what they are called, they screw on have a rubbery dish that comes out and it folds up so its not sticking into the cage. So excited about the crates that when my friends would want to see my new car I'd open the back first!

Posted by: LynnL | August 4, 2016 9:28 AM    Report this comment

I bought the Clicket harness because it was rated best by WDJ, but had to return it. I used it 3 times and each time my dog twisted and turned in it until she was in a position that would not have protected her in a crash.

Posted by: maisie | July 30, 2015 9:14 AM    Report this comment

Forgot to mention that we recently bought a Variocage Double size large for my RAV4. The price was really high but when we considered the potential cost of a vet bill based on likely injuries using even the extremely sturdy wire crates we had in my car (old version Central Metal Products with low gauge wires and many welds for strength), the price suddenly seemed reasonable. We bought the Variocage on sale using PayPal credit with a 12 month no interest plan and are paying 1/12th the total price each month..much easier to handle.

376NYC...one can be a very safe, defensive driver yet still get rear-ended in an accident. The Gunner is not your only choice...the Variocage Max Single is 33 inches high so it is large enough for your GSD.

Rachel S...your dog will likely also experience soft tissue injury with your full body harness/seatbelt approach to restraint. If a car crate is properly fitted for a dog (small enough) there is very little room for the dog to be thrown...your comparable wall analogy would be throwing the dog against the wall from a few inches away. There is no injury free guarantee in an accident. Please make sure the device you use is crash-tested as most seatbelt restraints for dogs fail.

Posted by: Jumpindogs | July 29, 2015 9:57 AM    Report this comment

This is a great article and thank you, WDJ, for publishing it. Even though the Gunner crate was rated best, I believe the Variocage offers the best protection since it can absorb a crushing impact. The straps that held the Gunner in place prevented the study personnel from documenting the effect of a crushing impact which reduces the cargo space of the vehicle to smaller than the crate depth. This can easily occur if a vehicle is rear ended and the rear of the vehicle deformed in such a way as to crush the crate. Furrykids and others...the reason they test the crates without a front seat is because having a crate directly behind the front seat is very dangerous for the humans in the vehicle. The back seat of a vehicle incorporates crumple zone technology hardware which also prevents objects from piercing the rear seat back. The front seat does not. Thus crates placed directly behind the front seat can pass through the front seat and injure the occupants in a serious accident.

Posted by: Jumpindogs | July 29, 2015 9:31 AM    Report this comment

It doesn't surprise me one bit! Crates in cars are for stopping the dog bouncing around/trying to crawl into the driver's lap, barking at the windows.
What WOULD be interesting is seeing a test of dog seat belts! I suspect that they might offer little help in serious accidents too.

Posted by: Jenny H | July 28, 2015 6:53 PM    Report this comment

I have a Toyota FJ Cruiser with 2 wire crates in the back. These videos show crates in the middle of huge open spaces with nothing more holding them in place than tie downs. My crates are secured with heavy rubber tie downs that pull them tight against the backs of the front passenger seats. The crates take up virtually the entire cargo space so they are not going anywhere. I definitely look forward to more studies.

Posted by: 2SpringerBoyz | July 28, 2015 6:08 PM    Report this comment

Even the large kennel that is in production is not high enough inside for my GSD as he is 30 inches at the shoulder. Fortunately he typically lays down in the back of the car, where I put the back seat down so he has lots of space. I do have bars and a mesh between the seats and I am a good driver and have driven across the US twice with him with no accidents.

Posted by: 376NYC | July 28, 2015 3:21 PM    Report this comment

What about wire crates? I plan on replacing my verikennels with the G1, probably intermediate since my dogs so far haven't been above 75 pounds. I use a wire crate and two varikennels all wedged together in my van right now. The passenger side has the seat, with the wire crate wedged behind it and the varikennel wedged behind it with about 8 inches between the door and the back gate of the van. The other varikennel is wedged to the left of the one wedged behind the wire one.
If wire crates are bad, I will replace that one too!

Posted by: amoore | July 28, 2015 12:34 PM    Report this comment

Why do they test the crates without a front seat? The crates that I use fit between the back of the front seat and the front of the rear seat. There is no room for the crate to move. I would like to see a test simulation with all the car seats in play.

Posted by: Furrykids | July 28, 2015 11:01 AM    Report this comment

Car restraints for dogs are a real pain - but I use them every car trip. I replaced all the dangerous dog harnesses with Sleepypod Clickit. And it takes forever to buckle dogs in the car. At dog events, friends keep their dogs loose in the car or use crates. Even one friend whose dog hit the windshield once still lets her dog ride free. This article on crates should be scary enough to shock some people out of complacency. I may be the last car leaving the dog event, but at least my dogs will make it home alive.

Posted by: SundogsHawaii | July 28, 2015 10:43 AM    Report this comment

Thank you so very much for sharing this!!!
I have always used a full body harness tied into the seatbelt, with a limiter for my dog. I've never trusted a crate: even when the crate stays intact, the dog inside is slammed against the inside of the crate-no different than being thrown against a wall!
I love my dog way to much to risk that!

Posted by: Rachel S | July 28, 2015 9:44 AM    Report this comment

I was looking at this crate online yesterday. Loved it, but the price is, sadly, way out of my budget right now. Maybe one of these days.

Posted by: Malinwa4me | July 28, 2015 8:56 AM    Report this comment

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