Buckle up for dog safety

CHARLOTTESVILLE, Va. (NEWSPLEX) -- When Margaret Fritz takes her dog Rosie for a drive, she buckles her own seat belt and fastens Rosie in with a special dog harness.

"My car only has a driver's seat and a passenger seat, so if I want to ride with Rosie, she has to be in the front, and she's very active," said Fritz.

Her primary reason for securing Rosie is to prevent driver distraction, something that on its own can cause a car accident. But according to a pet safety expert, that's not the only reason to secure a dog in the car.

"We need for pet owners to understand that restraining your dog gives your dog the best possible chance of survival in a crash," said Lindsey Wolko, founder of the nonprofit Center for Pet Safety. "Even more importantly, it protects the people in your family. We want to keep your pet from becoming a missile."

The Center for Pet Safety and Subaru of America have conducted a series of pet crash tests using dog dummies. The tests found that most harnesses and crates advertised as pet travel safety products fail to adequately secure the animal in a crash, when even a small dog can exert more than 1,000 pounds of force as it travels through the car.

That can be deadly to the dog and to any human passengers it may strike.

The Center for Pet Safety tests pet safety products, and those that pass are then labeled with a Center for Pet Safety logo.

For more information on traveling safely with pets, see the Related Links box.

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