Car Safety

Many dog owners, despite being well-meaning, loving dog parents, regularly put their fur-kids in mortal danger. How? By driving with their dog unrestrained in their vehicle. This practice can result in severe injury or even death for the dog should an accident occur, or can actually be the cause of an accident if the dog becomes stressed or overly excited and interferes with the owner’s driving. The most dangerous practice–and one that is unfortunately rampant among puppy/small dog owners–is driving with the dog on the lap. Should an accident occur, the brutal truth is that the dog would most likely be crushed, or go through the windshield. There are a variety of seat belts/harnesses specifically made for dogs who ride in the front seat, and crates that can be secured in the back seat of a car or SUV for safe transportation. At the very least, a barrier can be put up between the seats and cargo area.

Below is a story about an unfortunate incident. Please read and consider it carefully. The dog involved was very lucky.

“About two weeks ago I was involved in an accident. My lab Barkley and I were traveling at about 35 mph when a 17-year-old kid traveling toward us made a left hand turn in front of us. I was unable to stop in time and I watched as the front end of my Honda Accord crumpled up to the windshield. I was wearing my seat belt but Barkley was loose in the car on the front seat. As the metal crumpled and bent, I also watched my big, black, furry best friend slam into the windshield. If you’ve ever been in an accident, you know how fast it happens but how it also feels like everything is moving in slow motion. When the car finally skidded to a stop, I looked over and saw those big brown eyes looking at me and I thanked God that he was okay. I got out of the car, leashed Barkley, and assessed the damage. I did a few obedience things with him and checked for coordination and he did fine. In fact, the accident occurred right near a pond where he swims in the summer. He seemed convinced we were there so he could engage in his favorite activity. The car was nothing but a heap of bent and crushed metal with broken glass everywhere. The scariest part of this was examining the star-pattern on the windshield where Barkley had hit it. I vowed at that moment to NEVER travel with dogs loose in a car EVER again.

I called the vet as soon as I got home and was given some instructions to follow to ensure no concussion had occurred. My husband is a physician and adapted his “people medicine” skills to examine Barkley at home and we rousted him up every hour through the night into the next morning. We are now the proud owners of a 1987 Subaru wagon which has two crates for my most special friends. So…please keep your furkids safe when traveling. They’re relying on us for their safety. Barking in the car never sounded as sweet after this happened to me!”

Don’t wait for something like this to happen. That “Oh, it’ll be fine” attitude just doesn’t cut it when your dogs’ safety is at stake. Take a moment now to assess whether your dogs are truly safe when riding in your vehicle.

©Nicole Wilde  All rights reserved. Nicole’s books, seminar DVDs and blog can be found at


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