Back in January 1985, Nova Scotia passed its first seat belt legislation (Ontario was first, passing the law in 1976). This legislation required humans over the age of 16 to use seatbelts. Since then, it has been modified many times and there are now strict regulations based on height and weight and cover specifics about where and how child car seats are installed etc.
There are no laws governing how we restrain our pets in vehicles other than they should not be blocking the view or functionality of the driver.
We have become more careful about what items are loose in our cars to ensure they do not become projectiles should we be in an accident. And yet, how often do you see a dog just sitting in the front seat of a vehicle, unrestrained or a cat lying in the back window? How often do you see a dog loose in the back of a pickup truck while it is being driven or with its head out the window?
There are many products available such as dog car seats and harnesses that work in tandem with the vehicle’s seat belt to restrain the pet and spread impact over its body in a collision.
Did you know that an airbag deployment can kill your dog? Did you know that even a teacup-sized dog is a large enough projectile to kill a human on impact (not to mention the damage that happens to the dog)? A sixty pound dog becomes more than 1.2 tons of mass in a vehicle travelling only 55km/hr.Did you know that many Medical First Responders and Firefighters on the South Shore have been trained in first aid for dogs and cats so they know what to do in the many instances where pets are involved in Motor Vehicle Accidents (both inside and outside the vehicle).
Here are a few tips to keep your pets safe (and comfortable) and to ensure, in an accident, they don’t exacerbate danger by being loose on the highway causing more collisions or become a distraction or security risk for emergency workers trying to extract victims from the vehicle:
· Have your pet ride in a secured pet carrier while in the vehicle - one that is the proper size to ensure there is only enough room for him to turn around in – to prevent him becoming a projectile inside the carrier.
· If you use a crate for the pet, as with the carrier, ensure it is secured and there isn’t enough space to allow him to be tossed around inside of it on impact. Several car manufacturers are now offering pre-installed pet restraint options.
· Use a good quality harness with your vehicle’s seatbelt and install it in the centre of the back seat.
· Don’t allow your dog to have its head out the window. Flying debris can injure eyes, ears and noses and cold air can injure his lungs.
· Never leave your pet in the car alone. In summer, your car heats up much sooner than you can imagine even if the windows are open and it is parked in the shade. In winter, temperatures drop quickly and pets can freeze.
· If your dog suffers from motion-sickness, consult your vet for solutions. Being uncomfortable is unpleasant for your dog and he can become agitated and be a distraction for the driver.
· Don’t forget to take along some water as well to keep your pet well-hydrated.
You love your pets and want to take them on outings with you. Please keep them safe while doing so.
Note: SHAID is in need of NON-CLUMPING Cat Litter. If you have some you can donate, it would be much appreciated.