This summer, we’ve been writing a lot about the risks for dogs in cars, but most of it has had to do with cars that aren’t moving. The problem of people leaving their dogs in the car is so persistent that we’ve had it happen with at least four police dogs this year alone.
People are a little bit more aware of how dangerous it can be for a dog in a moving car. “Put your seat belt on” is the mantra that every child hears from their parents as soon as they’re too big to be strapped into a baby seat.
Dogs don’t seem to pick up on the seat belt mantra quite as easily, so there’s a whole industry that builds dog restraints, carriers, and crates to keep your dog a little safer in transit. But as with a lot of consumer goods, we suffer from an embarrassment of riches; how do you tell which ones will actually keep your dog safe, and which are just cheap crap?
If the recent report issued by The Center for Pet Safety and Subaru of America doesn’t answer that question entirely, it at least offers a strong starting point for pet owners who want to transport their furry friends safely.
In a series of crash tests using dog-shaped test dummies, the CPS analyzed how well four models of crate and eight models of carrier withstood simulated collisions. If you’re interested in reading the full results to see how your favorite brand came out, you can find the crate results here and the carrier results here on the CPS website.
Unfortunately, there seems to be a lot of variation in how well the products held up to a simulated crash. For the Snoozer Roll Around Travel Dog Carrier, for instance, the CPS says that “Upon impact the test simulant launched out of the carrier. The stitching failed around the front mesh panel of the carrier.” If there’s one thing that you don’t want to happen during a crash, it’s to have your beloved pet go hurling out of his container. But worse, this particular manufacturer claimed that they had done crash tests themselves. CPS says that they attempted to contact Snoozer’s president via phone and email to confirm the company’s crash test results, but “The manufacturer did not respond to either the email or the phone message left on the company president’s voicemail system. Test evidence was not received from the manufacturer.”
Both the test results and the failure to provide transparency say very bad things about Snoozer’s integrity.
The Kurgo Wander Carrier is marketed as “airline approved.” Using a 15-pound crash test kitty, CPS reports that “Upon impact, the connection point released producing a complete failure.”
Among the crates, the CPS reports that they tested the 4Pets Proline Milan twice. The Proline Milan claims to be crash tested and approved. However, in one test, “The rear panel of the crate was destroyed. The rear end of the test dog protruded out of the crate. The rear and side panels of the crate were confirmed to be wooden chip board.” The second time around, the crash dummy was contained, but, “The lock failed and the door of the crate released inwards toward the test dog upon impact. The door could not be opened. Additional tools, including a small crow bar, were used to pry the door open and release the test dog.”
Through all of this, three products triumphed. The report declares the Gunner Kennels G1 Intermediate with 8-Inch Tie Down Straps ($449) as the 2015 Top Performing Crate. Gunner Kennels says that its product has been tested up to 4,000 pounds, and in the CPS’s test, it reported no structural deformation other than a misshaping of the pins. For the carriers, the PetEgo Forma Frame Jet Set Carrier with ISOFIX-Latch Connection ($150), and Sleepypod Mobile Pet Bed with PPRS Handilock ($179.99) tied for the Top Performing title.
While the tested models constitute only a small amount of what’s available on the market, it’s clear that there’s a disturbing amount of variation in quality, even when the manufacturers claim to have made tests themselves. If manufacturers are going to make claims of having done crash tests, those results should be published and easily available to consumers and advocates. Otherwise, there seems little way of separating the BS from the fertilizer until you’re actually in a crash.
Read more about dogs in Dogster: