By Shell on Oct. 30, 2019
Buckle them up
More than 40 per cent of dog owners don’t restrain their pets in the car. If you’re one of them and you have an accident, your dog could injure itself and other passengers, even in a 20km/h collision.
It can be expensive, too. Laws vary, but in every state, travelling with a ‘free range’ pet attracts fines and demerit points in certain circumstances. And if your pet is injured after being unrestrained in a vehicle, you could face fines of up to $5500 and six months’ jail.
Choose the ‘right’ car restraint
While cats should be placed in a carrier box with a seatbelt buckled around it, there are different car-restraint options for dogs. These include purpose-built car harnesses secured using the car’s seatbelt, and dog seatbelts, which you click into the car-seat buckle before attaching the other end to your dog’s walking harness (rather than their collar, to avoid injury).
Both have pros and cons, but your best bet may be researching and choosing a test-crash approved restraint. The NRMA Insurance Research Centre tested 25 dog-safety harnesses and discovered only two were sturdy enough to do the job they were designed for.
Pick the perfect position
Securing your dog or cat carrier in the centre of the backseat rather than the front passenger seat is ideal, to avoid a potential airbag injury if you have an accident.
Keep them cool
Crank up the air conditioning or roll the windows down when you’re driving. Just remember if you’re using a dog seatbelt, which typically allows more movement than a car harness, it’s smart to ‘shorten’ it so your dog can’t hang his or her head out the window. Otherwise, they may be hurt if you have to swerve or brake suddenly.
Park with care
A dog can die in a hot car in just six minutes. Not only can vehicles get hot in the sun at any time of year, even parking in a shady spot isn’t safe, according to the RSPCA. Leaving the windows open won’t help either. It’s not only illegal to leave a car unattended with the windows down in several Australian states, it also doesn’t prevent a vehicle from becoming too hot.