We are supposed to be a nation of animal lovers and will frequently travel on the road with our pampered dogs and cats in the car but surveys have shown that around 98% of people still neglect travel safety provisions for their pets. A survey carried out by car windscreen specialists Autoglass as far back as 2009 also showed that 40% of the drivers they surveyed failed to restrain their pets in cars. These drivers not only risked having a crash by being distracted but even worse they risked being crushed by their own beloved pets.

During a 30mph accident the animal’s body weight increases by more than 30 times. This means that an average family Labrador or Retriever sat on the back seat would be thrown forward with a one tonne weight, easily injuring those in the front or even killing them.

Advice given out by RoSPA the society that looks into the prevention of accidents recommends that car harnesses are the best way to restrain a dog in the back of the vehicle but whereas passenger safety belts and child car seats are subjected to rigorous testing, pet car harnesses are not subject to the same regulations.

Alex Wilson, a Tellington Touch Practitioner in Training and Marketing Director of pet accessory company Xtra Dog states,“Attitudes to travelling dogs in the car are changing. For many people it has always been very acceptable for the dog to be on the back seat un-restrained or sitting in the foot well of the passenger seat, or worse still sitting on the passenger or even the driver’s lap.

“The Highway Code states that dogs must not be a distraction to the driver and advises that they are best transported in a crate or a car harness, but unfortunately this does not go far enough. There is no standard in the UK for this type of equipment, what is to stop a manufacturer obtaining a basic dog harness and marketing it as a suitable for the car? The special seats in cars for children have to be tested and carry a necessary kitemark, yet dogs can be transported in un-tested car harnesses or crates. It frightens me that most car harnesses in the UK have had no safety testing … even equipment sold by big name companies and products endorsed by motoring organisations have not had proper crash testing or even safety testing.

“In the USA a standard has been developed called V9DT B2009.1. This was based on tensile tests run at Sherry Laboratories in Oklahoma where a number of high street car harnesses were tested against the Bergan Car harness and the Bergan harness was awarded a V9DT B2009.1. Full details of the tests can be found at www.v9dt.com. Dr Jason Nicholas, a well known TV vet in the USA who goes by the name of the Preventative Vet recommends the Bergan car harness. He explains:

“From a comfort and safety standpoint, the wide padded chest piece seems designed to more evenly distribute the force that your pet

would experience in the event of a short stop or accident. It seems to me that the design of the chest piece on this harness would result in less compressive force transmitted to your pet…”

The Bergan car harness is available from Xtra Dog in four sizes, small, medium, large and extra large to suit all sizes of dogs. For added convenience, the Bergan harness features a single hook system for instant loading and unloading. Prices start from £30.90 for the small harness up £44.30 for the extra large.

In Canada they have gone one step further and RC Pet Products has created a fully crash tested Canine Friendly               car harness. This harness has been put under similar tests as child safety seats. Although this harness comes with a slightly higher price ticket of RRP £80, it is worth remembering that the tests run on the harness cost them in excess of $150,000.

So if you taking your dog on holiday this year or taking him or her to work with you or on short trips, make sure that you both travel in safety by a securing your pet with a tested and properly fitted car harness.

For more information about safety and crash tested car harnesses visit www.xtradog.com or call 0330 088 3647