Daily Walrus - Helping People Help Animals

Pets and Travel | January 14, 2008

Some people like to take their pets everywhere, while other animals travel only to the vet.  No matter how often your pet finds itself in a motor vehicle, it should be secured and safe.  You strap yourself and your children in every time you get in a car, right?  Why should your pets be any different? 

I suppose we all think that if we get in an accident, we can act as our pet’s seat belt and protect it from danger.  Unfortunately, accidents happen without advanced notice, and there is no time to grip the cat or dog for safety.  Would you trust your quick reflexes to save a small child in an auto accident?  I sure wouldn’t.  

No matter how safe of a driver you are, you can’t suspend the law of inertia.  Small animals can become projectiles if your car suddenly comes to a halt.  Pets can hit the seat or dashboard in front of them, the windshield, or even other passengers.  We have all seen enough videos of crash test dummies to know how dangerous this can be.  Another common result of an accident involving an unsecured pet occurs when a terrified pet simply runs away from the scene.  Last night a friend of ours told us a heartbreaking story about a crash involving her friend on a Long Island highway.  The car flipped twice and came to a halt.  The human passengers were okay, but the eleven-year-old dog in the back seat was so scared (and possibly injured) that it ran away from the scene.  Pets will seek any opening to get away from such a shocking experience.  Open doors and broken windows quickly turn into escape routes when the adrenaline kicks in.  Pets are incredibly loving and loyal, but in the aftermath of an accident a scared pet will typically choose flight over fight. 

How can you keep your pets secure in your car?  We travel with two carriers, a large one for the cats to share and a smaller one for Luigi.  They go side-by-side in the backseat, both with enough overlap in the center so we can slip our fingers and treats in.  At rest stops we take Luigi out to do his business and stretch his legs.  Also while parked at rest stops, we often let the cats out of the carrier (while the car doors are locked) to stretch their legs and get a good petting.  If you have a larger dog and can’t fit an enormous carrier in your car, try a dog seat belt.  This is something new and your pet may be resistant at first, but remember it is for their safety.  Give them extra treats and love while you train them to adapt to the new way of traveling.  While your pet still may be injured even if it is secure, you will be able to get to it quickly and get help to it as quickly as possible  

If you have a friend who lets their pet ride shotgun unsecured, give them a carrier as a birthday or holiday gift.  Or if you have an old one around the house, let them have it.  Instead of letting it collect dust in your basement let it play it’s role in protecting pets.   You can also check out craigslist, where other users often sell carriers cheaply or give them away for free.

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2 Comments »

  1. […] vet could do much to help.  That’s why earlier this month we wrote about the importance of securing your pet while traveling.  The insurance policy is nice safety net to have, but there are plenty of simple things you […]

    Pingback by Car insurance for your pets? « Daily Walrus - Helping People Help Animals — January 24, 2008 @ 9:05 pm

  2. […] numerous transfers.   Some pets also get super-stressed thanks to the noise on the subways, so a safely secured ride in the car makes the trip easier on […]

    Pingback by Offer a Ride « Daily Walrus - Helping People Help Animals — January 27, 2008 @ 11:16 pm


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About author

Hello - we are Jenny and Ryan, a couple living in Brooklyn, New York. We are both busy with school and work but try to take time to do something every day to make the world a better place for animals. Occasionally we may link to outside websites for additional resources, but we do not necessarily endorse all policies of these organizations. Despite the title of our blog, the focus is not only on walruses. So what's with the title? We named this blog after our cat, Wally, aka The Walrus. We are the proud parents of two cats (Wally and Tito) and one dog (Luigi).

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