Does your pet go on car rides with you? Most pet owners view their pets as members of the family and often include them in family outings, many of which include going for a ride in the car. Some dogs even get excited when they hear the words “car ride!”
But where is your dog sitting? Most pets sit in the backseat, but some owners allow their pets to sit shot gun in the front passenger’s seat and in the worst case scenario on the lap of the driver. In the case of an accident, not only does this pose a risk of pets possibly going through the front windshield, but it also puts them at risk of becoming injured from the airbag.
For more information on why your dog should always ride in the backseat of your car, have a read through this article from the ASPCA.
In addition to these dangers, there are also many risks associated with letting your pet stick its head out of the window. If your pet likes doing this, although they find it extremely entertaining, it could actually put them at risk for a variety of accidents. Flying objects may hit them in the eye and over time, the wind can damage their eyes by drying them out.
Although having our pets ride along with us is fun and enjoyable, having pets in the car can also bring a number of distractions. Some of the most common distractions include feeding, petting, disciplining, talking and looking at the pet. This poses many risks to both driver and pet since the driver’s attention has now been taken off the road.
It’s important to remember that in Ontario there are laws relating, but not specific, to the transportation of animals. Under the Ontario Highway Traffic Act there are two charges that can apply but aren’t specific to animals:
- Insecure Load (section 111(2) of the HTA) Offence: Dog loose in the back of a truck. No animal should be loose in the back box of a pickup truck. Animals need to secure by way of a crate and the crate also needs to be secured.
- Careless driving (section 130 of the HTA) Offence: Dog on the lap of a driver. Having an animal on the lap of a driver puts the operator of the vehicle, the occupants and other drivers at risk of injury. Animals should be in the back seat secured by way of crate or seatbelt harness.
The Standards of Care portion of the Ontario SPCA Act speaks to the safe transportation of animals. As responsible animal owners, we want to ensure that they are safe at all times. We put our pets and ourselves at risk of injury if we have them between us and the airbag, whether we are the diver or a passenger in the front seat.
The Ontario SPCA put together Operation V.A.L.U.E. (Vulnerable Animals Left Unattended Everyday), a provincial crime prevention initiative, designed to address situations like the safe transportation of animals. This program is a partnership with policing agency’s across all of Ontario.
Click here to learn more about Operation V.A.L.U.E.
Now how can you avoid these dangers while driving around with your pet? There are a variety of animal restraints available in most pet stores. There are harnesses that use the car’s existing seatbelt to tether the pet and leashes that have a prong on the end that fits into the car’s existing seatbelt receptacle. Another great option is booster seats for small dogs that attach to the car’s seat and then the dog is attached to the booster seat. Some vehicles now even come with options that include a tether for the pet in the cargo department.
Whichever option you chose, this simple investment can help keep both you and your pet safe while riding in the family car.