Car Safety for Your Pets


The letter James wrote to us about his accident and the death of his dog, Rudy. It reads "Rudy, my Miniature Schnauzer, was almost 4 years old when he was killed at the end of February of this year. He was the most special dog I ever had. When I held him, he would put his paws on my shoulders. We sometimes even slept that way. He always slept with me. In the morning, he would put his paws on me to let me know it was time to get up. He loved to play games. Some of the games were my ideas and some of the games were his ideas. I could go on and on about my beloved Rudy. Rudy loved to ride in the car. On long trips, I always had him secured in a cage in the backseat. Around town however, I didn’t do that. I don’t know why I didn’t buy something to secure him. I guess I didn’t think anything would happen, but it did. Rudy died because he wasn’t secured in the car properly. I will always blame myself for his death. The accident occurred on Friant Road when I tried to avoid a car. I couldn’t stop in time, hit the car, and Rudy was thrown into the front windshield. I was taken to the emergency room and Rudy was taken to the emergency vet. I learned that Rudy’s spine was severed in the accident. I was released from the hospital a few hours later and went to say good-bye to Rudy. I comforted him, kissed him for last time, and the vet put him to sleep. I was a basket case for weeks knowing it was my fault that Rudy was dead. I still wake up at night wondering why I didn’t secure him in the car. It has truly been a living hell for me. Rudy’s death could have so easily been prevented. As I drive around town, I see so many people in their cars with their precious dogs in their laps or on the seat next to them without any restraint. If anything good can come from Rudy’s death and my experience, I hope it’s that people learn of Rudy’s story and secure their animals in the car. If I can save just one animal then Rudy’s death won’t be meaningless. James Wambold"

We received a tragic story from James Wambold, a fellow community member whose dog, Rudy, recently passed away in a car accident. At the time the accident occurred, Rudy was not secured in the car. Both James and Rudy were taken to be given medical care. Unfortunately, Rudy did not survive. Since then, James has been heartbroken and wanted us to emphasize the importance of safely securing your pets when driving. He doesn’t wish for anyone to lose their beloved pet.

An unsecured pet becomes a projectile during an accident or a sudden stop. Even if you are just driving a short distance with your pet, have them secured as you never know what might happen. Below are some tips and advice we have gathered on different ways you can secure your pet. When your pet is in the car, it’s good caution to have your pet secured in one form or another. Should you have an accident, or even if you just happen to brake suddenly, your pet will be secured.

1. Use a crate or a carrier.

If you have a smaller dog or a cat, secure your pet using a crate or carrier and make sure to strap it down securely so it doesn’t shift or move. If you know you will be driving for long periods of time, consider getting a crate/carrier of a slightly larger size so your pet can have space to move around and stretch if they need to. 

2. Buckle your pet.

If your pet is too big for a crate/carrier or if you feel like you’re just going to go on a quick drive, a good option would be to have your pet harnessed and then leashed with a dog seatbelt. We recommend having the seat belt attached to a harness rather than a collar as that’ll help prevent unintentional choking.

3. Don’t allow your pet to dangle out the windows.

Although your dog (or cat!) may enjoy feeling the breeze on their face, recognize the dangers they could face if they’re sticking their heads out the window. You never know when something might fly into their faces, or they could get too excited and jump out. Your pet is most secured when they are inside while you’re driving. 

4. Don’t let your pet be unleashed in the car. 

Whether you use a crate or have your pet buckled, it’s important to secure your dog in some way when you are driving. This is for your safety and your pet’s safety. A loose pet in your car becomes a projectile during a sudden stop or a crash! 

For your safety and your pet’s safety, it’s vital that you safely secure your pet when driving. For more resources and information on what harnesses or crates that are safest for driving, you can look to additional resources such as Center for Pet Safety, a non-profit safety science organization dedicated to consumer and companion animal safety. 

To read more about car safety for pets, feel free to click the links below:

Center For Pet Safety

Consumer Reports – How to Keep Your Pets Safe in a Car 

The Bark – 7 Ways to Secure Your Dog in the Car 

Pet MD – 10 Car Safety Items For Your Pet