This post has been percolating for a long time. My loving wife likes to remind me that on occasion I can come off as a bit of a curmudgeon so I will try to self edit here.
This week I came across this accident on Lake Harriet Parkway. I was out with a dozen dogs and we saw a string of cars driving the wrong way down this one way parkway after hearing the police sirens. Its a low speed road, but with our icy winter, it has become a treacherous with heavy coatings of ice. Its a bit tough to see, but all of the airbags deployed with the impact with the tree. In fact, the front window on the passenger side was shattered from the impact of the airbag as it deployed. Fortunately, the lack of an ambulance indicated that no one was hurt.
It seems like everyday I see drivers with dogs on their laps or on the front passenger seat. In the event of a relatively small accident, like the one show here, the animal would have been killed instantly or seriously injured. I know people love to have their dogs close but sacrificing them in a small accident seems needless. Dogs should be trained to sit in the back seat or in the case of a station wagon or SUV the very back of the vehicle. They should also keep their heads fully in the vehicle at the very least.
Keeping the dog in the back of the vehicle is better but there are additional ways to reduce the potential for injury. Any impact either from the front or back can send your 4 legged friend air born. Ken Goldman at Stunt Puppy is evaluating designs for a harness that a dog can wear in conjunction with a seat belt to reduce the likely hood that an animal become a projectile in an accident. The safest place for a dog is in a sturdy kennel in the vehicle. At the Land of Lakes Kennel Club show in St. Paul, I talked with a vendor, Doug Sagl about his company’s product ”Rough Tough Kennels” which is a Roto Molded dog crate (many canoes are produced with this technology). We talked about safety in the car and he shared a photo of a roll over where a dog was protected as a result their product and a less sturdy competitors crate was compromised and the other dog in the car was ejected from the vehicle and fortunately unharmed. A study out of the UK recently indicated that the safest place for a dog is in a kennel anchored in the vehicle.
Nobody plans to be in an accident. If you are unable to resist keeping your dog in the front seat, find out how to turn off the passenger side airbag and keep it off of your lap. We have made great strides to keep children safe in cars, lets start to keep our pets safe too.