Dear Paw's Corner:
Why are organizations making so much noise about securing pets in the car when it's moving? My dog "Archie" loves to put his head out the window, and has never needed a seat belt or carrier. He loves car trips.
-- Fred H., via email
Even though Archie loves riding in the car, he still faces the same risks as humans if -- knock on wood -- an accident happens. Unrestrained, he could be thrown around the car and injured, or even worse, thrown out of the car.
Most experts recommend that pets be in a secure carrier, and that the carrier itself be held in place with sturdy straps (not bungie cords) so it doesn't slide around when driving around corners or making tight turns.
However, like many dogs, Archie wants to have some mobility and enjoys sticking his head out of the window. That's natural.
Fortunately, there are manufacturers out there trying to blend pet safety with comfort. Restraint systems are available for larger dogs that allow them to sit or lie down on the rear passenger seat, while keeping them from wandering around the car's interior. For smaller dogs, pet booster seats are available that lift them higher on the seat so that they can look out the window without having to stand on their rear legs.
Keep in mind that there are no performance standards or test protocols for verifying exactly how safe a restraint system or carrier is. Subaru of America and the Center for Pet Safety recently joined forces to test a few products. But you should take a look at several types of restraint systems for Archie to find the one he'll like best.
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