Crash-test dummy dogs help make cars safer for pets

Health -

The Center for Pet Safety in Virginia worked with car maker Subaru to test out pet safety belts using some of the first-ever dog crash-test dummies.

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Copyright 2014 Reuters
Copyright 2014 Reuters

Center for Pet Safety

This summer, the nonprofit Center for Pet Safety partnered with Subaru to test seven different pet harnesses currently marketed with safety claims--using a novel set of specially designed crash-test dummy dogs. The center aims to eventually help develop harness safety standards for the pet industry.

Subaru and the Center for Pet Safety released the findings of the study on Oct. 3, which "uncovered serious flaws in many of the popular pet restraints currently on the market, with many resulting in catastrophic failure." The top-scoring belt was Sleepypod's Clickit Utility Harness.

"Selecting the wrong harness could be just as detrimental as not using one at all. Most pet owners don't know the dangers of not properly harnessing their pet while in the car." Michael McHale, director of communications at Subaru of America

Around 9 in 10 pet owners in the U.S. report traveling with their pets, but most neglect to use a safety harness. Pet advocacy groups and law enforcement officials say an unrestrained pet can hurt other passengers during a crash or make emergency response efforts difficult.

The different dummies were made to simulate the motion of dogs ranging in size from a 25-pound terrier to a 75-pound golden retriever. A little weight can go a long way--a 10-pound dog without a harness projected after a 30 mph crash will exert 300 pounds of force, according to an estimate by AAA.

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