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post #1 of 18 (permalink) Old 04-05-2013, 06:18 AM Thread Starter
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Doggie seatbelts, are they any good?

I personally do not use a seatbelt for any of my dogs, instead I have a grille that goes across the back of my 4x4 keeping the dogs firmly in the back of the car when out driving.
However, for some of us I accept this is not an option, be it because you don't have a 4x4 but rather you own a saloon (sedan) or maybe even a 2 seater sports or pick-up. Which leads me to ask, how do you restrain your dogs?

Now in Ireland it is now being considered making it a requirment in law to restrain your dogs by seatbelt or the like, however, are they really that safe?


Quote:
While we all accept the need to fasten our seatbelts when travelling in a car, there are currently no laws to govern dogs, cats – or any other pet for that matter. And with some dogs weighing up to 60kg, this could have serious consequences in the event of an accident.

But Irish Transport Minister, Leo Vardadkar is in talks with the Road Safety Authority following a comment received from a member of the public. There are no plans to make the use dog seatbelts compulsory at this stage, but opinions are being gathered.

Vardadkar told the Irish Independent, “The general advice is that neither people nor objects should be unrestrained when travelling in vehicles”.

The plan has received the backing of the Irish Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals (ISPCA), which said:

“If you have a child in the car, even a reasonably sized dog can come through like a missile and you have 30kg, 40kg, 50kg or 60kg going around the cabin. It could cause terrible damage”.

The ISPCA's Chief Executive, Noel Griffin went on to say, “Nobody's trying to be a spoilsport, but ultimately losing the family pet could be the consequence”.

There's been a decidedly lukewarm reception to the idea on twitter, with @BenFlanagan2 rolling out a #SoStupid hashtag.

Similarly, @upraxis produced a damning verdict, claiming, “Country falling apart and they want to give dogs seat belts”.

@PetLawNews urged caution by tweeting: “They must not have read the reports that dog restraints do not protect injuries to dogs”.

Law or not, from a welfare perspective alone, surely it makes sense to insist that your canine friend buckles up when travelling in the car. The risk of the dog literally flying through the car in the event of an accident is plain to see, but a loose animal could be enough of a distraction to actually cause the incident in the first place.

We found dog seatbelts and harnesses on the internet for around the £10 mark. Not a huge price to pay to keep man's best friend safe?

Or is this another case of the nanny state taking things too far? You decide.
After some research I came across this site.

http://www.prweb.com/releases/2012pe...web9612738.htm

which shows a study of a test group of randomly chosen seatbelts for dogs from which I have taken extracts...

Quote:
A pilot study conducted by the Center for Pet Safety has shown that pet safety restraints used in cars may be unsafe, leaving the animals to become projectiles, possibly causing severe injury or death to the animal and potential injury to human family members if an accident occurs. The Center for Pet Safety is located in Haymarket, Virginia, just outside Washington, DC.
Quote:
Currently, animal restraints are not held to specific safety standards and testing by the manufacturer is not a requirement.
Quote:
There are currently no official standards to measure performance success, nor are manufacturers required to test their products for this category of pet product. So who says 'safe' is safe?"

While Wolko agrees that tethering or containing your pet may help reduce incidents of distracted driving, any other safety claims must be proven through the development of performance criteria and test methodologies. "Saying that these products prevent your pet from becoming a projectile in an accident is a potentially misleading statement. In our pilot study, the harnesses tested failed to keep the dog from becoming a projectile in a standardized crash simulation."

The pilot study conducted by the Center for Pet Safety in 2011 indicated a 100% failure rate of a set of four popular animal travel harnesses crash tested according to the conditions of Federal Motor Vehicle Safety Standard 213 for child safety seats. FMVSS 213 was selected as it is commonly referenced by some pet product manufacturers and pet safety advocates as a general standard.
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A total of 12 restraints from major brands within the pet product industry were purchased from online vendor/manufacturer websites and delivered by independent carrier (UPS, USPS,etc) to the test laboratory. The restraints were received in new, unused condition with intact packaging. The restraints were handled only by laboratory personnel. Out of an initial sampling of 12 brands, four harnesses were selected as a "control group". Selection of the control group was based on perceived strength of the materials and design, associated marketing materials that indicated testing had been completed by the manufacturer and the reputation of the manufacturer in the pet travel product marketplace – similar to the way the consumer would select a product for purchase. Although not identified in the study, the control group harnesses are considered quality brands within the pet product industry and are widely marketed as safety devices for companion animal travel.

"We have re-sampled these products and performed follow-up testing to confirm our initial findings," says Wolko. "While we did not test all brands of harnesses in our initial pilot study, our sampling was broad enough for us to gain better insight regarding the expected performance of these products when tested to Federal Motor Vehicle Safety Standard 213 conditions. Their safety is not guaranteed and the buyer should beware."
Obviously the report goes into greater depth than what I have placed within the excerpts/quote boxes, but I think you will agree that this subject is somewhat concerning.

If I buy a harness that is marketed as being suitable to protect my dog from injury/becoming a projectile in the car during a crash I surely expect it to perform without problems. Yet despite being marketed as being capable it would seem that a good many are not?

How does one know which seatbelts work and which don't if the findings of this report (failures) are not made public, why havent they been made public?
How safe is your dog wearing one a seatbelt?

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post #2 of 18 (permalink) Old 04-05-2013, 06:26 AM
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They are not tested like human seatbelts. I saw some of the test video's on test dummy dogs. They did not turn out well. The best thing to use is a crate.
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post #3 of 18 (permalink) Old 04-05-2013, 06:43 AM
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IMO if they havnt been car tested they are worthless. Some have been though, like the Bergan car harness which a friend has and loves it.

I definitley think a dog needs to be suitably restrained. I agree with above, the videos of the non tested car harness are scary.



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post #4 of 18 (permalink) Old 04-05-2013, 06:48 AM Thread Starter
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Yet the packaging makes out these products will surely save your dog. Indeed some have safety standard stickers on them which surely makes one believe they are up to the task, but in reality it surely only means the webbing (for instance) is up to the task of holding a dog of x poundage not that the seatbelt will.

And here is the kicker within all of this.

If in the event of an accident your restrained dog flies through the air and kills your passenger and itself during a car crash. Will you as the driver be held liable for that death because you used an untested product or one found to have failed in performance to restrain your dog. Are you required by law to use products fit for purpose and if so, how do you know which are????
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post #5 of 18 (permalink) Old 04-05-2013, 07:00 AM
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I don't believe there is any laws concerning securing dogs in the car in the UK...though I think there should be! To me, my dogs are members of the family, and I would no sooner not secure a dog in the car than I would a baby or child.

My other half works for landrover so we have a company car which unfortunately means I can't get the car crates I want at the moment (which are crash tested to ensure the dogs are safe in an accident up to a certain speed, can't remember what speed!) so we have a dog guard with them in the back.

If your dog was in the back of the car and someone was killed by the dog...I wouldnt have thought it would be the dog killing the person which you would be prosecuted for, I would expect the person who caused the accident would be responsible by means of dangerous driving, manslaughter sort of thing.

If it was technically nobodies fault...I guess if there is no law, and you can prove you made some sort of effort to restrain the dog...I wouldnt expect the driver to be held responsible...

But I know nothing about law, just speculating



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post #6 of 18 (permalink) Old 04-05-2013, 08:03 AM Thread Starter
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Originally Posted by Amelia_ View Post
I don't believe there is any laws concerning securing dogs in the car in the UK...though I think there should be! To me, my dogs are members of the family, and I would no sooner not secure a dog in the car than I would a baby or child.

My other half works for landrover so we have a company car which unfortunately means I can't get the car crates I want at the moment (which are crash tested to ensure the dogs are safe in an accident up to a certain speed, can't remember what speed!) so we have a dog guard with them in the back.

If your dog was in the back of the car and someone was killed by the dog...I wouldnt have thought it would be the dog killing the person which you would be prosecuted for, I would expect the person who caused the accident would be responsible by means of dangerous driving, manslaughter sort of thing.

Death by dangerous driving/careless/reckless driving/manslaughter usually come with compensation attached.

If it was technically nobodies fault...I guess if there is no law, and you can prove you made some sort of effort to restrain the dog...I wouldnt expect the driver to be held responsible...

A reasonable person might not, but what if the person suing you is not reasonable.

What if they cite..

By putting your dog into a harness/seatbelt you are accepting that they could cause injury/death by the dint of fact that in the event of a crash they may become a projectile within the cars interior.

Further, by accepting the fact that this might happen in the event of an accident is it not then reasonable to assume that the person who places the dog into the harness/seatbelt should be responsible for making sure it is fit for purpose.

If they have simply taken the manufacturers assurance that the product meets with safety standard 'X Y Z' would you hold that this enough of a defence?

Should the person when purchasing/fitting the harness into the car for their beloved pooch have checked that the above mentioned standard actually pertains to tests on the item when constructed and used as a seatbelt not simply that the webbing can take loads of up to 100lb or the like?

And what if the harness is suitable for dogs of upto 30lbs and the dog placed within it weighed 40lbs, would the person who placed the dog within it, be responsible for the injuries sustained to the passenger or would the manufacturer?


Now some might say, all of this is hypothetical nonsense, well that may well be the case, however, was it nonsense that a woman sued McDonalds when she burnt herself on a cup of hot coffee? Absolutely. However the jury hearing the case still awarded her substantial damages in relation to her claim despite common sense dictating that if you purchase "Hot Coffee" caution should be exercised when handling.





But I know nothing about law, just speculating
Which is what most lawyers do, they speculate if they can get someone to pay out even when good sense dictates they shouldn't.

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post #7 of 18 (permalink) Old 04-05-2013, 08:45 AM Thread Starter
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Legal nit picking aside.

I find it worrying and considerably alarming companies can market something as being one thing, ie a safety belt for a dog when in tests they failed 100%.

When you purchase such a thing you are doing so not because you like to throw money away, but because you think you are doing something positive in relation to keeping your dog safe and not simply because your state/countries laws require you to have your dog restrained.

If this was a child safety seat the companies would be hauled over the coals but because they are meant for dogs, somehow it is let slip.

I would love to hear from anyone who uses a seatbelt on their dogs and if they have ever had them work/fail when push came to shove as they say.

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post #8 of 18 (permalink) Old 04-05-2013, 09:18 AM
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I think that most doggie seat belts are marketed as a way to keep the dog from bouncing all over the car, interfering with the driver, or otherwise becoming a distraction, not as an actual "safety restraint".


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post #9 of 18 (permalink) Old 04-05-2013, 12:24 PM
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My sister was driving on a city street with a 50 kph speed limit. Car pulled out of a parking spot right in front of her as the driver attempted a U-turn. She slammed on the brakes and T-boned him.

The plastic clips on the harness, which was restraining her GSD in the backseat, broke, turning him into a projectile. As he flew past her, he clipped her shoulder and neck before ending up jammed between the stick shift and the dashboard.

Just bruises and strained muscles all around. But this was a very low speed collision; in fact, my sister had been looking for a parking spot and figured that she was actually doing less than 50 kph. The harness might have slowed the dog down a bit, but otherwise, it was useless.

We used a harness on our previous guy, but Jack is crated in the back of our SUV. Always.

If I had no choice but to use a harness (and I would definitely want to use some kind of restraint), I would look for one with buckles, not the plastic clips that you squeeze to open. I've seen those fail even on a small dog's collar.

And yes, I do think that harnesses that are advertised as safety restraints for dogs should be rigorously tested.
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post #10 of 18 (permalink) Old 04-05-2013, 01:35 PM Thread Starter
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Originally Posted by Hooligan View Post
My sister was driving on a city street with a 50 kph speed limit. Car pulled out of a parking spot right in front of her as the driver attempted a U-turn. She slammed on the brakes and T-boned him.

The plastic clips on the harness, which was restraining her GSD in the backseat, broke, turning him into a projectile. As he flew past her, he clipped her shoulder and neck before ending up jammed between the stick shift and the dashboard.

Just bruises and strained muscles all around. But this was a very low speed collision; in fact, my sister had been looking for a parking spot and figured that she was actually doing less than 50 kph. The harness might have slowed the dog down a bit, but otherwise, it was useless.

We used a harness on our previous guy, but Jack is crated in the back of our SUV. Always.

If I had no choice but to use a harness (and I would definitely want to use some kind of restraint), I would look for one with buckles, not the plastic clips that you squeeze to open. I've seen those fail even on a small dog's collar.

And yes, I do think that harnesses that are advertised as safety restraints for dogs should be rigorously tested.
Wow, how scary, for both your sister and the dog. I do hope neither suffered any lasting effects.

But I wonder just what it was your sister thought she was buying, a means to stop her dog jumping around the car, or a doggie seatbelt?

You see to me the usage of the word seatbelt in the advertising of these products infers it will do what our seatbelts do, stop someone or something going through the windscreen.
If it is merely a restraint aimed at stopping a dog from bouncing about and distracting the driver then it should surely be called something other than a 'seatbelt' shouldnt it?

For most of the time I transport the dogs to and from places using my 4x4 it is not big enough to hold 3 crates so they are held back behind a grill. Now if I could I think I would use crates. but how do you secure them? Surely an unsecured crate is simply a larger item to fly through the air and smack you at the back of the head.
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post #11 of 18 (permalink) Old 04-05-2013, 01:43 PM
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Both of mine wear a harness and are tethered to the frame of my van. The tether has metal fittings, like this: The Bergan replacement tether can be used with most dog seatbelt brands.

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post #12 of 18 (permalink) Old 04-05-2013, 03:45 PM
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I used to let Atlas roam the car. It quickly became evident that, that was not a good idea.

I bought a pet barrier for my wagon (wrx wagon) and its fine. Keeps him in the back.....but now I am SUPER worried that someone is going to rear end me and the dog is the closest thing to that impact. I dont like that. Thinking about moving the barrier to the back of the front seats, not sure if its tall enough though.
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post #13 of 18 (permalink) Old 04-05-2013, 04:28 PM
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I remember when Sam was in puppy kindergarten, many years ago. Someone asked about the pet barriers and the instructor was adversely against them for the reason you mentioned. The dog really has no escape route but out the back which could cause more injuries.


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I used to let Atlas roam the car. It quickly became evident that, that was not a good idea.

I bought a pet barrier for my wagon (wrx wagon) and its fine. Keeps him in the back.....but now I am SUPER worried that someone is going to rear end me and the dog is the closest thing to that impact. I dont like that. Thinking about moving the barrier to the back of the front seats, not sure if its tall enough though.

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post #14 of 18 (permalink) Old 04-05-2013, 04:31 PM
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We have a sportscar with a very small back seat area, Elsie travels in a soft crate in the back. It doesn't move around at all, we have to collapse the crate down and put the seats forward to get it in, and when it's up and the seats are in position they hold the crate still haha... Lucky we don't have a Doberman or it would never be travelling in the car!!


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post #15 of 18 (permalink) Old 04-05-2013, 05:07 PM
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It's law here in Alameda County, CA. No one listens to it though.

I agree that the crate is the best option, but there is no way I can fit a doberman size crate in my Honda Civic. So we use the same product that Sam and Mack's Mom uses. We just clip them into their regular harness. I have not seen the videos, but it does keep the dogs from flying. Harley's ruffwear harness can be used for skijorning (sp?) so I know it can handle the weight (or gravitational pull).

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Quote:
Originally Posted by Toby'shuman View Post
. . . But I wonder just what it was your sister thought she was buying, a means to stop her dog jumping around the car, or a doggie seatbelt? . . .
If it is merely a restraint aimed at stopping a dog from bouncing about and distracting the driver then it should surely be called something other than a 'seatbelt' shouldnt it?

For most of the time I transport the dogs to and from places using my 4x4 it is not big enough to hold 3 crates so they are held back behind a grill. Now if I could I think I would use crates. but how do you secure them? Surely an unsecured crate is simply a larger item to fly through the air and smack you at the back of the head.
My sister definitely thought she had bought a safety harness that would function the same way as a seatbelt does for a human being. As I recall, when we bought the harness for our previous guy, the packaging declared that it was for safety in the car. Don't know whether they are still advertised that way.

You're right about the crate -- if it isn't fastened down. Jack's is secured in place with adjustable straps that are fastened to metal loops that are part of the the vehicle. Sorry, I don't know what these loops are called, but they're in the cargo area and I assume that their purpose is to allow cargo, any cargo, to be strapped securely in place. Because anything loose in the back of a vehicle can become a dangerous projectile if there's a collision.
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post #17 of 18 (permalink) Old 04-05-2013, 05:35 PM
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I just went back and watched a video is some foreign language - very disturbing. There was one scene where the harness slid up and basically cut the stuffed animal in the neck.

The crate did seem like the best options over-all. But like I said getting one to fit in a Honda Civic would be very difficult.

I did read somewhere that Suburu is putting money into doing pet safety restraint testing in their cars. I love Suburu, an Outback will probably be my next car.

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post #18 of 18 (permalink) Old 04-05-2013, 05:44 PM
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I have a harness for my dog. I have been looking for a better option after hearing that these are not safe. It is so frustrating as an owner. Especially because I struggle with putting it on him or not. Yes it is a restraint but may cause more damage than not. If Subaru does end up making a pet restraint in their vehicles, I will be one of the the first in line to buy one!


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