Pet talk: Traveling with pets in your car

If your pet travels with you, whether they love the word "car ride" and hop in with excitement, or they cry the whole way, here is what you need to know before heading out.

In the event of an accident or sudden braking, the weight of your pet is multiplied by 20. This means if you break suddenly, your pet can become a projectile. Your pet and other passengers can suffer significant injuries as a result of them hitting you or the windshield. It is also important to remember that during a crash, your airbag explodes with enough force to seriously harm or kill a small child OR a pet. Just as you would never place a small child in the passenger seat or on your lap, the same applies for your pet. Under section 442 of the Highway Safety Code, driving a road vehicle in which an animal obstructs your view or interferes with the proper handling of the vehicle is prohibited and you may face fines. In addition, the Animal Health and Protection Act makes it illegal to transport an animal in the bed of a truck unless they are confined to a crate that is fastened to the floor.

Properly securing your pets during travel will prevent distraction and injuries. Here are a few tips from the SAAQ and Center for Pet Safety on how to travel safely with your pet. Depending on the size of your pet, the safest way to travel is in a pet carrier that is secured to the vehicle or on the floor behind the passenger or driver seat. If space does not allow for a carrier, attach your pet using a harness and/or set up a barrier. Before choosing a harness, keep in mind that pet products are not obligated to go through the same rigorous testing as human products. The Center for Pet Safety is a nonprofit organization which conducts "crashworthiness" studies for pet travel harnesses and carriers. You can review the products tested on their website: www.centerforpetsafety.org

Lastly, before heading out, make sure your pet is wearing their collar and ID tag and have them microchipped. In the event of a crash, you and your pet may be in shock, a startled pet may bolt from the car. This nearly happened to a technician of ours after a crash many years ago. Still in shock from the event she was startled to see her Lhasa Apso scrambling out of the vehicle. She realized that if he'd been in his usual spot on her lap he would have died so ever since that day her pets have always been safely secured in the backseat with their harness.

Be careful this Holiday season as you travel with your pets, and Happy New Year!

By Gabrielle Vachon, CAHT

Staffed by caring professionals, Animal 911 Hôpital Vétérinaire is endorsed by their many pets – starting with Dr. W and his four cats: Bubbles, Misia, Bisous and Duszek. Dr. Wybranowski – (Dr. W. for short) has been actively building their practice and range of expertise for 30 years – from his early start in a one-room practice from his home.

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