Safety tip: Dogs should be crated when riding in a car

My friend, Bonnie Frank, had a good reminder about dogs riding in crates on her blog and I thought I would take the opportunity add a second voice to her plea.

I feel very strongly that dogs should always ride in a crate in the car*. None of us ever expect to get into a car accident. My friend Bonnie was reminded of this important safety tip because someone she knew actually had gotten in to an accident and the crate saved the dog.

I have a list of my own stories of accidents and dogs that were saved. Crates serve as “seat belts”- but are far, far better than the strap “seat belts” you can buy in dog catalogs or pet stores. Crates actually protect the dog and should the nature of the accident require that the crate (with dog in it) be moved to the side of the road during rescue efforts, you can rest assure that the dog is contained. Another advantage a crate has over safety belts is that if your dog needs to be transported by a stranger, that person will not fear being bitten by your crated dog, and the dog won’t feel as if this stranger is “attacking them”. The rescue crew will be more comfortable with the dog, and the dog will be less traumatized by an otherwise traumatic event.

Ideally you will secure the crate to the car using some method. I use bungee cords. If you just get into a fender-bender, the crate won’t go flying around in the car.

Those safety straps that are designed as seat belts are not as good because your dog could still experience the same whip lash effect that you might experience from your seat belt. It will save your life, but you might have a broken clavicle too. Common seat belt injuries are broken bones and possible neck injury. Not to mention the fact that once you have unbuckled the dog from the seat belt buckle, you need a leash to hold on to the dog.

People often ask me, “what type of crate should I get?”. If you are only going to get 1 crate, then a molded plastic, #200 vari-kennel (or medium size) is my choice. This kennel has a handle on the top and is easy to move into and out of the car and home. I also think it is the best for car travel. I would not want to think what a wire crate would do in an accident. Broken wire could impale the dog- and that would defeat the purpose of the safety of a crate.

I have both wire crates and molded plastic crates in my home, and the dogs often choose the molded plastic as their “private space”. If you are going to get a crate for the home and one for travel, then just make sure that the travel crate is the molded plastic one.

It is law that children have to ride in car seats, I think dogs should ride in crates for the same reasons.

* I do make one small exception- I will allow a puppy traveling to his new home for the first time to be held. However, if the new “puppy” is older, or an adult- they must ride in a crate.

Rohan Shelties  – (February 5, 2009 at 8:16:00 PM PST)  

Thank you so much for adding this post; I too have had my dogs saved in accidents by crates and seatbelts. You brought up such good points about the seatbelts; points that I never even considered. I am sometimes asked what I think is better, and have positives and negatives for both-but now Im all for the crates! I use soft crates because if they end up hitting the sides, I think it will be a little less traumatic, and they have "doors" on the top and sides too. Just easier access if owners or rescuers need to get the dogs out, but cant reach the "front" door.
Thanks again for posting this really important and helpful information!

Acadia Shelties  – (February 6, 2009 at 10:26:00 AM PST)  

Thank you for this comment.
Yes, you make a good point about the soft crates. They do tend to have more doors and so if one door was blocked, there might be another way out. Also, they would not "break" the way a molded plastic crate might during impact. Just make sure to find a way to secure them in the car. They are not as easy to bungee down.

Post a Comment