How safe is your dog in someone else’s vehicle?

There are strict rules covering how you and your children are protected in the car. Rule 57 of the Highway Code states that you must “make sure dogs or other animals are suitably restrained” in a vehicle. What “suitably restrained” means is not made clear though. If you use a dog car service who may transport your dog, you need to be clear about how they are secured and protected. 

As a responsible dog owner, you will have a suitable restraint system, and indeed a suitable vehicle, for your dog’s breed, size, and temperament. If they are being walked, collected for grooming or any one of several other reasons why someone other than you would be transporting your dog. Your dog may be one of several being carried in a car or van at any one time, and this may involve them being looked after in a way they aren’t used to. 

Collapsible dog crates are an ideal way of protecting dogs, especially puppies, at home. However, there is one critical reason why they should not be used in cars. They collapse. In the event of an accident, they will not provide rigid protection that will keep their cargo safe. I have seen dog carers use collapsing crates cable tied together in the back of some highly unsuitable vehicles. 

As a dog industry professional this worries me. All the relevant risk factors need to be taken into consideration when you care for someone else’s beloved pets, and a pet carrier designed for use in the house that offers no protection in a car is certainly a risk factor. 

So, what is a safe way for a dog walker or similar professional to transport your dog?

  • In a rigid cage – A crash tested cage, that will not collapse if the vehicle has a bump, with the cage secured to the floor or sides of the car with straps intended for use with the cage is essential.
  • Crash tested harness – If dogs are secured on the back seat of a car, then a crash tested harness that is fitted to the seat belt attachment point is important. There are no crash tested harnesses that are secured to the car headrests currently available. The US FMVSS 213 or European ECE R44 04 standard for child restraints is used to test dog harnesses, and you should look for these numbers when buying a harness.

Claire Harris from Pets2Places is the founder of Pet Travel Safety Day which takes place on July 1st each year. Claire is a good friend of Poochee Care and campaigns for improved standards in the pet care industry, just as we do. She started Pet Travel Safety Day because; “people don’t know what they don’t know. People love their animals and would not want any harm to come to them in the event of an accident.”

Another question to ask when assessing care for your dog is around insurance. To transport your pets, they will need business insurance for their vehicles. That insurance needs to specifically cover carrying animals as part of that business, as only some insurers will cover that. A registered business working with dogs in any capacity needs insurance that covers your dogs while in their care and this should include in a vehicle. A concern here is that as with other aspects of transporting there is a lot of confusion around this subject with several threads on pet related forums giving conflicting advice. It is important to get your dog used to traveling by car, before you entrust them to someone else’s vehicle. In our next blog we will look at how to transport your pet’s safely in your own car, including the results of a survey we have carried out into how this is being done now. Poochee Care are fully licenced dog boarders. Every dog in our care is transported in a fully crash tested harness. We would love to learn more about your dog and help to support them while you are away. Get in touch to discuss your plans and to tell us about your dog.

Poochee Care would like to thank Claire Harris of Pets2Places for her help in the writing of this blog. You can learn more about Pet Travel Safety Day at her website.

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