Ignore the “Cat”-erwauling – Restrain Your Pets in the Car

IM000411.JPGLast week, I was stopped at a traffic light when I was rear ended.  The impact was strong enough to knock a package to floor and cause $1000 worth of damage. Fortunately, there were no injuries.  It did scare the living daylights out of my 18-year-old cat who was secured in his carrier with a seat belt.

We were coming back from a vet visit.  Cognac complains about vet visits but he really doesn’t mind being there because the staff dotes on him erasing all memory of the horrific trip he had to endure to get there.  And, he doesn’t mind riding in the car.  It’s being confined to his carrier that is most vexing.  The caterwauling begins the minute he’s placed in the carrier and doesn’t end until the moment he’s released.  Talking to him doesn’t help because he’s deaf.

This cacophony unnerves me and often I’m tempted to allow him to roam in the car.  After all, our vet is only 10 minutes away.  Yet, as I experienced, accidents do happen, even around the corner from home.  Many pet owners do allow their cats and dogs unfettered access to the back or front seats, dashboards and rear window ledges of their cars.  Yet, the American Kennel Club, the Humane Society, and even Cars.com all advise securing pets before pulling out of the driveway.

The reason is safety.  In a collision, the vehicle stops but unrestrained drivers, passengers, packages, and pets keep moving, bouncing off the interior of the car or even being thrown from it.  Airbags don’t protect pets since the speed with which an airbag opens and the pressure it exerts can crush an animal.  California, Florida, and other states have laws that require the restraint of pets in cars.  A similar law was under consideration by the NJ Legislature.  I don’t know that we need a law but we sure need some common sense.

You wear a seatbelt.  Your passengers wear seatbelts.  Keep your pet safe by using a backseat hammock, a front seat booster seat for small dogs, a partition, or a vehicle restraint harness.   Or, place your pet in a carrier on the back seat, and secure it with a seatbelt.  When, like Cognac, your pet starts complaining, turn up the radio and sing along.


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