Whole Dog Journal's Blog April 28, 2015

Crates or Seat Belts, People!

Posted at 08:34AM - Comments: (21)

Sorry if this is the fifth time in the past year that we’ve run a reminder in either the magazine, the blog, or the Facebook page, but here goes:

To give your dog the best chance of survival in a car accident, you really have to have him or her in a crate that is solidly fastened into the car, or seat-belted in a proper harness, one that has been independently crash-tested and approved by the Center for Pet Safety (CPS). For more reasons why you should use only a product that has been evaluated by this group, see our January 2015 article, “Restraining Order: Our Car Safety Harness Recommendation.” (Current subscribers can read all past issues online at no extra charge; the link is here: /issues/17_13/features/Our-Safety-Harness-Recommendation_21126-1.html?page=2).

Otto does not see or appreciate the suggestion of a resemblance.

I was at my local shelter on Saturday, helping someone adopt a dog, one I’d fostered for less than a day. A month or so ago I’d seen a photo of “Jacks” on the shelter website, and thought, “Cute! He looks like (my dog) Otto’s Mini-me!” Then I saw him in person at the shelter last week, when I walked the shelter aisles while waiting to speak to a friend who works there. Again, I thought he was such a cutie, and wondered why it was taking him so long to get snapped up. So when I had some time the other day, I went to the shelter, and signed him out as a foster dog. I took him for a walk with a friend and our combined four other dogs, and he was excellent, so well-behaved and well-socialized. I gave him a bath, took a few pictures, put them on my Facebook page, and by the next morning, heard from someone who wanted to meet him. Yay! We met, and before it was noon, we were at the shelter and the lovely young woman was adopting him. Yay!

But while I was in the lobby of the shelter, waiting for the very busy staff to go over the adoption papers with Jacks’ new owner, I started talking to another lady who was waiting for help from the shelter staff. She was from Oregon, and the day before, she told me, she was driving through the area on her way to a wedding, when she was in a traffic accident on the highway. Her car rolled over and was totaled. In the crash, she told me, she hit her head hard enough that the ambulance crew insisted that she be taken by ambulance to a local hospital. Her car was towed, and her dog, who was in a crate fastened in the back of the car, was taken to the shelter by California Highway Patrol officers. Thank goodness! The dog was only bruised, but otherwise unharmed – and so was she, as it turns out. She had been released by the hospital that morning, and one of her adult sons had picked her up from the hospital and had driven her to the shelter to get her dog. Ack! I started crying in the shelter lobby, completely caught up in her tale, and completely sympathizing with her anxiety as she waited for the staff to go get her dog out of the kennels in the back and return him to her!

As stressed as she was all night and all that morning, waiting to hear how her dog was, and WHERE he was, and waiting to get him returned to her, she was lucky; if her dog had been loose in the car, he may well have been smashed up or sustained a broken neck in the car during the crash, thrown from the car in the crash, or jumped out of one of the car’s broken windows after the crash. In the minutes immediately after the accident, had he been loose, he may have run from the car in a panic, and gotten lost or, worse, hit by another car on the highway. Thank goodness he was in a crate that was properly fastened into the car!!

If you haven’t taken steps to protect your dog in your car, please do it now! Any time your dog goes on the road with you, he should be wearing ID with current contact information, and should be either seat-belted into the car (with a proper harness) or in a crate that is properly fastened.






Comments (21)

There are few options open to dog owners who want to use a cage to keep their pets safe in the back of their vehicle. One exception is the Variocage, a metal cage manufactured in Sweden that is now available in the U.S. It comes in a variety of sizes and has been built and tested to withstand front, side, rear, and rollover crashes when used inside a vehicle or in the bed of a pickup. The biggest disadvantage to these cages is their price. I am looking into purchasing one to use cages to use in my Prius for my 80 lb. Lab mix.

Posted by: Bondog | October 13, 2015 2:29 AM    Report this comment

Carefree dog training "k9katelynn" crates or seat belts ! !! See More about Goodyear dog training at k9katelynn.com! Pinterest with over 17,400 followers! Google plus with over 114,000 views! You tube over 350 videos with over 50,000 views!

Posted by: K9katelynn | October 11, 2015 6:47 AM    Report this comment

I was returning with my foster pup from a visit to a prospective adopter in my Toyota Sienna van when we were hit from behind by a man driving a Ford 150 truck (he was looking down to dial his cell phone) at approximately 50 miles an hour (estimate by police). Milo was in a Travel-Aire crate that was secured behind the driver's seat. The van was mangled around us totaled....but we were both OK. The crate was twisted a little but Milo was cushioned in a thick blanket in the crate. I have too many dogs to use crates for everyone but I prefer harnesses and seat belt restraints anyway. We have a new tiny 3.4 pounds foster boy.....everyone gets seat belted in the vehicle.....you never know what is going to happen....even on a short driving trip!!

Posted by: Olivia | October 7, 2015 7:09 AM    Report this comment

I have a 146 lb Newfoundland (15 mo). Am trying to acclimate him to a hammock. With seats down he has plenty of room but worry too much in case of an accident. Can't fit a crate in my car...wheel wells interfere. And everything I have read about safe harnesses...they don't work with his size.

Posted by: lynda | October 7, 2015 6:50 AM    Report this comment

Another little trick for dog crates in vehicles - Clip your leash to the door of the crate. Would make it a lot easier for rescuers to restrain a possibly nervous pup.

Posted by: carasmom | October 7, 2015 4:35 AM    Report this comment

The november issue of Road and track presented an article on the safety of cages/ restraints .It is very informative and includes the fact that kennels are not safe ! Restraints are better , but again only certain designs

Posted by: hiking bruce | October 6, 2015 7:32 PM    Report this comment

After reading this article, I looked at the CPS results. I had been using a booster seat with a safety strap. After reading the test results, I threw the thing out. Shocking that there are very few safe alternatives for traveling with your pet. Unfortunately, my two Norwich Terriers ( about 12 pounds) are too small for the Sleepypod harness recommended in the article. I ended up purchasing the medium size Sleepypod carriers. Initially, I was hesitant to use them as I felt they were too small for the dogs and wasn't crazy about them being "zipped in." After using the Sleepypods for three months I am sold! My dogs are forced to lay down and as a result are no longer stressed out when in the car. The carriers are well made, sturdy, and easily installed with a seat belt/shoulder harness. A bit on the pricey side, but worth the peace of mind.

Posted by: Norwichx2 | October 6, 2015 1:14 PM    Report this comment

I bought the Clickit restraint that WDG had recommended as the best car safety harness. Paid $70 for it--expensive but worth it if it save my Maggie. I used it several times and every time she twisted around in it until she was sideways and in a collision would have been hurt or killed. She was in the back seat where she would have been able to see out the windows, but I was afraid for her. I had to send it back to the company. I won't put her in a crate because she wouldn't be able to look out the windows. The only reason she goes in the car with me is for the fun of it, so riding in the crate where she couldn't look out is out of the question. When she needs to go to the vet, that's another story, but meanwhile she just has to stay home. I feel sorry for her because she loves to go "bye bye in the car."

Posted by: maisie | October 6, 2015 1:08 PM    Report this comment

My wonderful mutt (chow, German shepherd, Collie, etc) loves traveling with me (3,000 miles + a year) but just dies in the crate (she immediately hyperventilates) but is OK when she isn't in it. I don't want to put her in a crate but I have her leash attached to a seat-belt or the table stand so that she can't run away. I know that's not the safest way, but I don't know how else. In the camper she isn't on any furniture, so I can't attach her to a seat-belt like the harnesses you have shown. How else can I safely take her along? Also, I heard those harnesses can kill a dog's back since they can easily get twisted around in the accident. What to do?

Posted by: Anni | October 6, 2015 12:38 PM    Report this comment

Just to add my two cents : if you have a modern vehicle with front passenger seat air bags, do not put your dog there. Unsafe for children - and our dogs. ... Nancy may be preaching to the choir, but please don't stop. Restraining dogs takes effort, and people think it won't happen to them. A well known agility instructor had a horrible highway accident, losing one dog in a crate, another hit by vehicle on highway, and a lost dog who no longer recognized owner. Agility community helped search and found poor dog. Our workshop with instructor was cancelled, so everybody knew about this tragedy - and yet too many dogs leave the agility field unrestrained. This tragedy touched us personally, but didn't change peoples' habits. So keep writing these warning articles Nancy. Some of us are definitely not protecting our dogs in the car yet.

Posted by: SundogsHawaii | October 6, 2015 12:32 PM    Report this comment

I did the same thing and adopted Chloe's mini-me. Her name is Minnie!

Posted by: karatemomotr | October 6, 2015 11:37 AM    Report this comment

I have a 110 lb. Bernese-Standard Poodle cross. I bought an expensive vest so that I would be able to use the seat belt and strap him in the back. However, he did not like it one little bit and I thought he was going to destroy my entire back seat. Easier said than done when you have such a large strong dog.

Posted by: suep | May 4, 2015 8:12 PM    Report this comment

Any suggestions on restraining a Great Dane. No way will his crate fit in the back of my Suburban.

Posted by: Tilly | April 30, 2015 9:25 PM    Report this comment

Hi, I have restrained my big Bleu in the past & now he 100 lb. & crating became impossible! The darn thing does not fit well into a 4 runner! Now we have Pynk! Pynk has the same parents, hence if I put the 2 in the crate there is not enough room for both! Help! Any solutions except a bigger vehicle ??? Can't afford that!

Posted by: TooBleu4u | April 30, 2015 10:06 AM    Report this comment

The back of my Honda CRV has an odd shape, and I haven't been able to find a crate that fits in it AND is big enough for my golden retriever. Any other CRV drivers here? I'd love suggestions for crate brands or sources!

Posted by: VirginiaS | April 29, 2015 9:43 AM    Report this comment

Years ago, a seat belt saved one of my smaller dogs riding in the front passenger seat when a car suddenly turned in front of us and I hit it head on. The police officer at the intersection said that in most accidents he'd seen, the people in the car are wearing seat belts and are okay but the unrestrained dog flies through the air and breaks its neck on the windshield.
Subsequently, a larger dog riding with a seat belt in the same seat smashed his chin on the dashboard when I stopped suddenly for a firetruck that popped out of a side street without using its siren. The blow damaged his neck and he had permanent structural and nerve damage as a result despite constant therapy.

In the case of the larger dog, the seat belt gave me a false sense of security. Because of his height, his head hit the dashboard while the smaller dog was relatively safe in the same seat.

After that, which was over 20 years ago, my dogs have traveled in crates exclusively. The crates are strapped into the back passenger seat so the car would cushion any blow from the front or back, but I worry about being broadsided, so thanks, Betsy, for the tip about the Y-lock Kennel Air crates. There seems to be a niche market opportunity for somebody here.

Posted by: Jessie | April 29, 2015 7:51 AM    Report this comment

I cannot imagine traveling without all my dogs crated. I mourn the fact, you cannot buy the old Y-lock Kennel-aire crates any more. You could sit on them & they were pretty darn escape-proof (they had 1 inch wire openings, only) and I've known many dogs that DID surive serious accidents in them.

A dog friend had a dog in one, & another dog beside it in a cheaper crate, when hit from behind. Only the dog in the KA surived. The other crate collapsed & the dog was mangled, so badly it had to be put down. Yet the dog in the KA was fine, and the crate was only dented.

In fact, you can't buy any Kennel-aires for that matter, since they were bought out by Petmate in 2011. As far as I can tell, the company decided not to make the brand, after buying them out. One of the best crates ever made, IMO. Most people lucky enough to have them - will NOT sell them. They were a bit narrower & shorter than most crates made at the time, and most did not fold into perfect suitcases - but now that so many vehicles have become narrower in the wheel wells, they would be very popular, again. If you see one on Craigslist or Ebay, you might want to consider buying it. They made a later version with Cam-locks, but that was not as good, IMO.

Posted by: Betsy | April 28, 2015 3:29 PM    Report this comment

Definitely on the crates; seat belts, not so much but better than nothing. Tags, microchips, crate tags - all good. AND it's a good idea to have a friend(s) phone numbers and info about the dog: Mine says, in essence, "These people listed will come and get my dogs and take care of them until I am able, or until otherwise instructed (i.e., if I die, they know what do to with the dogs)." I travel around about 4 states often, and have friends in those states who have agreed to do this. I would prefer they NOT be taken to a shelter - some are good, some not. Good reminders - too bad you're preaching to the choir though! LOL!

Posted by: Diane | April 28, 2015 11:10 AM    Report this comment

oh, a PS
I looked at the photo of the dogs which accompanied your post , and before I read your sentence underneath, I'd noted the expression on Otto's face & the way he's holding his ear (on the side closest to the other dog) - and so I laughed aloud when I read what you wrote ... yes, his body language showed it all !
but isn't that wonderful that with your extra caring help, the little 'mini Otto' went to a new home. WOW, good work !

Posted by: lynn sapp | April 28, 2015 10:17 AM    Report this comment

This is such a very good time of the year to remind people of this, Nancy, since road trips (where I live in Canada) will become a more frequent part of our routines, now that better weather permits them again.
I'm very glad that woman and dog are both okay after the car accident.

For anyone who hasn't already got a good i.d. tag on their dog, I recently got great ones on-line and was also able to sign up there for a lifetime-service called "Owner Alert" too, which allowed me to give 3 additional contact phone numbers and the company will call them 24 / 7, in the event of an emergency where my dog is found ... which is invaluable for re-uniting someone with a dog a.s.a.p

I hope it's okay to give a name here for interested people to look into : Luckypet.com is an excellent website for dog i.d. tags ! They have good products ( I recomend the rugged quiet plastic tags as they stay clear & legible for years and years, unlike metal ones which get scratched and oxidized and may become impossible to read in a hurry ) very fair prices, and good customer service.

I enjoy your posts and always learn something new or get to thinking about new sides to issues, thank you.
~ wishing you and your dogs and family all the best !

Posted by: lynn sapp | April 28, 2015 10:09 AM    Report this comment

Thank you for reminding us humans to provide the same amount of car safety for our canine companions as we provide ourselves! I have a 7-year old Min Pin who preferred to sit on my lap in the car until I bought him a doggie booster seat which is held in securely by the seat belt and a safety strap that attaches to his harness. He whined for a while but quickly realized he's got the best seat in the car now!

Posted by: Jenn | April 28, 2015 10:02 AM    Report this comment

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