We all know (or we should be expected to realize) that leaving a dog in a hot car is not only cruel, but illegal and possibly sociopathic. But while it’s cool to see a dog hanging its head out the window with its tongue wagging, possibly wearing some brightly colored sunglasses, unrestrained pets can be dangerous for animals of the two- and four-legged kind. And not just from scratching up the leather seats. Better buckle in Fluffy lest he becomes a fur-lined bowling ball careening towards the side windows.
The pet experts at petside.com recommend a host of pet safety devices for the car, ones that seem pretty familiar to those with children. Canine seat belt systems, for example, are not only real, they’re recommended: a thick nylon strap connects a dog’s collar to an existing seat belt, allowing the dog to sit in the seats or the cargo area, and keeping them generally in place. Certainly a lot safer than placing a purse dog on your lap while driving down to Pinkberry in your BMW 6-Series. Likewise, there are car seats designed just for dogs that will protect them in case airbags from the front and the side go off: what would cushion an adult against a firing airbag will surely kill a pet, if not break a multitude of bones. Safety barriers are also available, many individually tailored for their cars and available through dealers, to give animals some room to stretch out—but not to move too far, distracting the driver and risking the chance of an accident. Pet carriers and crates vary in size for most trucks and SUVs, and keep the pet safely contained with an additional barrier for protection.
Some of these may sound ridiculous—a car seat for pets, for instance? But dogs, after all, are hyperactive creatures, and cats like to hide in tight spaces. “It is not uncommon for an unrestrained animal—no matter their size— to jump over the seat to get a closer look at the squirrel that just darted across the street or the blonde ‘Lassie’ walking down the sidewalk,” says Petside. Some of our editors do the same thing. But while humans can get a sizeable ticket for not wearing a seatbelt, animals have no concept of money or the judicial system. That’s why caged pet carriers, though unpleasant, are a necessity and a recommendation.
But really, any way to keep your pet safe and secure is a plus. You wouldn’t want a toddler crawling around the seats, right? Why shouldn’t a pet be similarly restrained?