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Wednesday, August 08, 2007

Driving With Pets 101

Here Are A Few Simple Ways To Make Sure That You And Your Pet Arrive Safely At Your Destination

It's hard not to smile at the image of a dog with his head hanging out the car window, ears flapping in the wind, tongue hanging out. But a moving car is not a safe place for an untethered animal.

The best way to transport your cat is inside a suitably sized crate. Since most cats do not regularly travel inside of a vehicle unless it is to go to the veterinarian or to the boarding facility, traveling in a moving vehicle can make them nervous and skittish, so it is not worth the risk to allow your cat to roam freely, especially if you are transporting him or her only a short distance. If your cat sometimes urinates and/or defecates in a moving vehicle, place a shoebox with some litter inside of the crate to avoid a huge mess upon arrival.

There are several options available for transporting dogs safely. A crate is also an ideal option for many dogs, as it will keep your dog in snug comfort and prevent him from leaping into the driver's lap or being thrown out of the car in the event of a crash.

Other options for traveling with dogs include seatbelts made specifically for dogs, or raised car seats with restraints that will offer your dog a view while still keeping him in one place. An excellent alternative for SUVs is to use a vehicle barrier that creates a travel space in the rear cargo area. This provides a large space for your pet to travel comfortably in, and prevents them from sitting beside you or in your lap.

Another unsafe practice is a free-roaming dog riding in the back of a pickup truck. For your dog's safety and the safety of other drivers, provide appropriate tethering or an adequate crate for your dog to travel to and from your destination. Most states require your dog to be tethered or in a crate if he is riding in the back of a pickup truck. Proper tethering allows your dog to roam, but prevents the dog from falling or jumping out by not allowing it to get too close to the sides and especially the rear of the truck. Another option for the back of pickup truck, probably the safest one, is to use a crate. But make sure you consider temperature extremes of heat and cold that can make outdoor crate travel dangerous.

It is extremely dangerous and against the law to travel with a small dog in your lap, just as it is a with a small child. Besides creating a severe driving hazard, your dog could be crushed by the air bag.

When traveling with a pet, remember to not leave them unattended in your parked vehicle for any length of time, even when temperatures are not extreme. There are no exceptions to this rule.

Schools, parents and communities can learn more about driver education and safety at America's Driver License Headquarters Try a Free DMV Practice Test online!

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