If I were a dog..
I would want to live free. I would want to have an owner that would let me hang my head out of the window and bark at pedestrians. I would want to run around the inside of the car and help my owner navigate. Better yet, I would want to surf in the back of a truck unsecured with the air flowing through my hair, my ears flapping in the breeze and my slobber just a-flying..
But I’m not a dog. I’m a dog doctor and as such, I know too much. I’ve seen firsthand the gruesome injuries sustained by dogs riding in vehicles unrestrained. I’ve had patients that jumped out of vehicles and have been run over. I’ve seen many dog break limbs as they have jumped or fallen out of the back of trucks. I’ve had a recent case of a dog that sustained a serious spinal injury as a result of being unrestrained in a fatal car accident.
Most owners don’t realize the danger of dogs riding unrestrained in the back of a vehicle nor do they know it’s against the law. Section 72 of the BC Motor Vehicle Act prohibits the transport of an unsecured pet in the back of a pick-up truck. Under the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals Act you can even be charged for cruelty to animals if your pet is injured!
As responsible pet owners, we should see ourselves as pet guardians and take the following steps when transporting our animals:
1. Keep your pet inside the vehicle. Use a secured crate or dog seat belt to restrain your pet. Keep your dog out of the front seat. Unrestrained pets are a major distraction to drivers and can cause vehicle collisions. In a crash, pets become flying objects and can cause serious injury to themselves and others.Invest in a doggie seat belt harness, a pet travel crate, or a cat/dog cargo barrier.
2. If you must transport your pet in the back of a truck, use a secured crate in the center of the truck box or, tether your dog with secure and short harness to ensure safety from strangulation and death.
3. Roll up the windows – Your dog’s head should be kept inside at all times. Dogs are at risk of suffering from eye infections or sustaining injuries from flying debris , bugs etc
4. Never leave pets unattended – On hot summer days, cars can heat up very quickly to dangerous temperatures. Cars are like ovens, they will cook your hot dog to death.
Cracking the windows doesn’t cut it. It can become a death trap even on a mild sunny day, raising the car’s temperature to well above 120 degrees! Never, ever leave your pet inside the car. If your pet can’t come with you when you get out of the car, leave him at home.
Like the famous philosopher Rousseau stated “Man (and dogs) are born free but everywhere they are in chains”. It is our responsibility to our pets whereby they must give up certain freedoms in exchange for their own health and well-being. Protect your pets while they are traveling with you in a vehicle.