We've all seen it... Out of the window of the car ahead of you, is the head, wagging tongue, flying spittle, flapping ears and blowing coat of a dog, or worse, the dog is in the back of an open truck. One has to wonder if the homo sapien who owns the dog has all of the brain cells provided to our species. The usual argument is "but he loves it". This is why your dog needs a human owner, because his species didn't invent cars, and he doesn't know any better. You have to make wise decisions FOR him. Love it or not, there are road hazzards inherent to this sort of travel.

Obviously, in the back of an open truck, the dog can fly out of the vehicle, die, cause cars behind it to crash, and people to be injured or die. If chained or teathered, it can fall out and strangle to death on the restraint mechanism, or be dragged on the ground, or under the vehicle, if the restraint is too long. All it takes, is for the vehicle to hit a bump, come to a sudden stop, or turn a corner, and the dog is thrown from the pickup. Most States have laws that restrict you from allowing the dog to ride unrestrained in the back of a vehicle. After that, the dog in the back of a truck, and the dog with his head out the window have other risks:

  • The boisterous animal can distract a driver, leading to a wreck [Horror novelist Stephen King was nearly killed in June 1999 when he was hit by a van while he was walking near his home in Maine. The driver said he veered onto the shoulder of the road while he was trying to keep his dog from opening a cooler.]
  • Road debris flying with the speed of a bullet can kill your dog in an instant. [In my early years of ER Nursing, I treated a man who had sudden eye pain while driving his car. His car window was open. He had lost vision in the eye, and the eye was filled with blood (Hyphema). X-ray revealed a bolt in his eye, which had been propelled by the tire of another car, and into the patients eye.]
  • He can become ill from having cold air forced into his lungs.
  • Dust can get in his eyes, which can lead to eye irritation, or in his windpipe, choking him.
  • He is exposed to weather extremes.
  • If your car is side-swiped, protruding body parts will be literally sheared from the animal.

Bodies inside the vehicle continue their forward momentum even when the car has come to a sudden and unexpected stop. Imagine a 80-90 pound Labrador thrusting foward in your direction from behind. Dogs traveling loose in the car are a danger to the occupants, and it is in grave danger itself, should an accident occur. Dogs are unable to brace themselves against swerves and turns, animals can be thrown into dashboards, windows or floors. According to some statistics I found, if you slam on the brakes at 30 mph, your 50-pound dog could be tossed forward with a force equivalent to almost nine 170-pound men. A Labrador can weigh 70-90 pounds or more.

There are doggie seatbelts available, which will protect the dog and the occupants in a car accident, but dogs can chew through those. We all know that Labradors love to chew. Fiberglass crates are by far the better option. They can be secured in the back of a vehicle, and they serve as a protective environment for both the car occupants and the dog. The dog is no longer a distraction to the driver, it can not chew or destroy any contents within the car, and it provides a safe environment in the event of an accident.

This is the crate that protected the life of Labrador Retriever Ch. Belgold Moonlight Sonata ("Coalby"). She was riding in the crate when her owner's car was hit head-on by another car. Her owner had multiple injuries, but survived, thanks to her seatbelt and size of her vehicle. Coalby did not have a scratch. I imagine her body would have looked similar to this crate, had she not been in the crate. Coalby was taken in by a friend, and the following day made her artificial Insemination appointment, and delivered a happy-healthy litter nine weeks later. Her owner was almost completely healed by the time the litter was born. The condition of this crate leaves nobody to doubt that Coalby owes her life to her crate, and her owner who loved her enough to put her in it.

Never leave your pet unattended in a parked car for any period of time. On a warm day, the temperature in a car can reach 120 degrees Fahrenheit in a matter of minutes, even with the windows partially open. Your pet can quickly suffer brain damage or die from heatstroke or suffocation when trapped in high temperatures.

Crates should be marked LIVE ANIMAL.

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Copyright 1998-2005 ~ Blue Knight Labradors