Car safety and pets
As a driver I have a bad habit. I don’t usually buckle up right away but a few minutes after I start driving and the car’s warning signal gets louder and more annoying. I finally listen and with an attitude of a teenager I reluctantly buckle up.
I myself am puzzled by this. What brings on the teenager like attitude within me? Why do I take the chances and believe falsely that accidents are less likely to happen in the first kilometer or two of the trip? There is something in most of us that makes as do things that are thrilling and dangerous, no matter how much it doesn’t make sense.
In the 90’s, I worked in a vet clinic in Whistler, British Columbia, a beautiful mountain resort full of thrill seeking folks, who hurl themselves down the double black diamonds runs that are steeper than this letter A.
Before the local bylaws tightened up, Whistlerites were also infamous for letting their dogs roam freely around town especially on powder days. Dogs can walk themselves, especially with 3 feet of fresh powder waiting, right?
Unfortunately many dogs couldn’t and I remember hating the “hit by car” emergency calls.
Neither were cats spared of the thrill seeking attitude of their owners. One of them refused to put his cat in a carrier when driving and they hurled down a ravine. During the ride to the clinic his freaked out cat decided to latch onto my clients face. It was a miracle that neither of them were hurt except the car was a total write off.
My memory also takes me back to Cass a beautiful German Shepherd who was adopted by my friend Pat. The previous owner tied her to the track canopy with rope attached to her collar. It took one sharp turn, Cass flew of the truck and was dragged behind for a while before he noticed. She miraculously survived but the owner could not pay the vet bills and gave her up.
The good news is that Cass has a better home now. Unfortunately, the consequences of this nasty accident will be with Cass for the rest of her life.
The person who finally inspired me to write this blog is Anna, a great friend and a dog lover who would throw herself of a cliff if her dog was in trouble. However, Anna too, as most of us, has a dangerous habit. She leaves her dog Sam sit on the front seat because “ he is so cute” and he is too hot in the back of the car.
First, I wanted to tell Anna right there that her dog’s nose is a few inches from the airbag. Then my voice budged in: “Peter, it is not your business!” “Well it is and it isn’t.” I argued, “A dog can’t speak for himself and what if there was an accident? The airbag’s release would break Sam’s neck and…. Anna would never forgive herself.”
After this heated argument of me with me, I settled for posting a line on my facebook. Anna did find it and replied with a kind and funny comment: “Busted!”
I hope that reading the above lines will either freak you out or inspire you enough to want to read the following lines to make your animal friend safer when traveling. Here is what you can do…
- Do not let your pet roam the car freely when driving. Your animal friend doesn’t have a driving license and has no concept of what would happen if it wedges under the break pedal or prevents you from steering.
- A safely fastened pet carrier is a great option for cats and some dogs. It is a excellent way to prevent your car hurling down the ravine because your freaked out cat latched onto your face.
- Dog owners – buy a car for you pet. I am not kidding! Get a car with a built in safety cargo net. It doesn’t need to be brand spanking new. Just safe. Your dog will have both the comfort and safety when contained in the back of your car. Some people think that driving BMW is an unnecessary excess. I bought it because it has the best built in cargo netting on the market. I can also fold the rear seats down and move the cargo net right behind the front seats if I want Skai to be closer.
I remember, one time, a work crew was repairing the road. My lane was open and as I was slowly driving ahead. Suddenly, I saw a huge truck speeding in the opposite directions, going way too fast. In order for the truck driver to not hit the crew, he swerved the truck into my lane. In slow motion, I saw the truck hurling towards me, breaks screeching, tires smoking… I stepped on the breaks with full force and closed my eyes. The truck stopped 10 meters away. If Skai was not safely contained behind the cargo net, he would have flown through the vehicle, possibly getting injured or killed. I will never regret spending the extra money for a car from a manufacturer who cares about pet safety.
- If you can’t help it and love seeing Fido stick his head out the window to watch the world whiz by, get a dog seatbelt harness that can buckle in.
- If you want to give your dog an even greater degree of freedom, you can use a nylon cargo strap or climbing rope and loop it around the rear seat. Make sure that it is securely fastened. Use a climbing karabiner to clip your dog to. This will allow him to move freely from side to side.
- If you are the one who loves to have your best friend on your lap when driving or on the passenger seat, stop and think. Is it worth taking the risk that your best friend could be killed instantly by the airbag or by being catapulted out of the vehicle?
- If you have a truck and like to keep your dog in the cargo area, do this only in the warm months. You dog should wear a proper seat belt harness attached to both sides of the canopy. The rope must be short enough to prevent your dog from falling out.
- Never leave your dog running freely in the canopy, attach the collar to the rope or tie him to only one side. Remember Cass. It only takes one sharp turn and Fido will fall out, to be dragged and likely killed or seriously injured..
I know, I know, we all love to seek thrills once every while. We all break the rules. How about finding other ways to get the “fix;” a ride on a rollercoaster, watching a scary movie or sky diving.
Just promise me one thing that you keep your animal friend out of it and safe…
PS: Save animal lives and please share this blog with others.