By Jen Burklow
June is National Safety Month and the unofficial start of summer road-trip season. For many of us traveling means bringing pets along too; unfortunately, our furry companions can be driving distractions.
A 2011 online survey of 1,000 dog owners by AAA and Kurgo, a manufacturer of pet travel products, revealed 84 percent of respondents allowed their dogs to travel unrestrained in their vehicles; 65 percent admitted to engaging in distracting activities with their dog while driving.
In addition to being a distraction or becoming a projectile in a crash (at a driving speed of 35 mph, a 60-pound unrestrained dog can become a projectile exerting 2,700 pounds of pressure), an unrestrained pet is likely to be thrown into traffic following an accident — often leading to a lost pet, severe injury or death.
Before you head out on a summer road trip with your dog, along with restraining Fido, remember these travel dos and don'ts:
- Put small pet carriers on the floor between the front and rear seats, only secure with a seat belt if they were designed for use with seat belts.
- Don't put a pet carrier on the front passenger seat; airbags could crush it during an accident.
- Don't leave a pet in a parked vehicle in the heat, even with windows cracked; heat stroke can be deadly and can happen in minutes.
- Microchip your pet and have a tag with your information, including cellphone number, on all collars.
- Carry vaccination/health records in case of an emergency.
- Have a pet first-aid kit.
- Bring an in-car litter box for cats on long road trips.
- Locate a veterinarian near your destination(s).