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Rules of the Road for Your Pawed Passengers

From drive-thrus to grocery stores, ever notice just how many people are cruising around with their dogs these days?! Sometimes, the animals are unrestrained, j...
Pawed Passengers

From drive-thrus to grocery stores, ever notice just how many people are cruising around with their dogs these days?!

Sometimes, the animals are unrestrained, jumping from seat to seat, which could lead to distracted driving.

To help better protect our pets while traveling, offer tips on various harnesses that could keep your fur-baby safe, Newswatch 16’s Ryan Leckey teamed up with Scranton Police, PennDOT, and Johnson College Veterinary Technology experts.

While Pennsylvania is not a state that requires seatbelts for dogs, having a dog loose in your car, or even sitting in the front seat can sometimes be not only a distraction. It could lead to the animal’s death if you’re involved in a relatively minor crash, and your airbag goes off.

In some cases, such as a dog constantly moving all over the vehicle while it’s moving, running from the backseat to the front, across the driver’s lap, and flat out distracts the driver,  etc., Scranton Police say the person behind the wheel could face a careless driving citation.

PennDOT defines distracted driving as “anything that takes your eyes off the road, hands off the wheel, or mind off the task of driving .”

In a crash, a pet can become a projectile in a car, they can be injured and even run away from a crash scene.

Johnson College’s Vet Tech pros shared a few “dog-friendly seatbelts/harnesses” on Wednesday.

Before traveling, along with the American Humane Society, PennDOT offers the following tips in preparation for a road trip with your pet:

  • To avoid unnecessary stress and anxiety, work your pet up to longer trips by taking shorter treks before taking on a long expedition.
  • Just in case you and your pet become separated, be sure that all ID tags are properly affixed to your pet’s collar and that they have your current contact information, including cell number(s).
  • Update your microchip registration and pet license information to ensure its current and consider including the name and phone number of an emergency contact.
  • Never allow pets to sit on your lap or remain in the front seat while you drive.
  • Never allow pets to stick any portion of their bodies out the window. Although most dogs love to stick their heads out open windows, the wind can seriously irritate mucous membranes and blow pieces of grit or other debris into their eyes. Pets could also be seriously injured by objects as you drive down the road.
  • Pets should never be transported in the bed of a pickup truck. Not only could your pet injure or even kill himself/herself – he/she could cause an accident which may harm someone else. It is estimated that at least 100,000 dogs die in accidents each year because they were riding in truck beds.
  • Do not leash your pet inside of a truck bed even when parked to avoid strangulation hazards and because open truck beds do not provide any protection from the weather.
  • PennDOT also recommends packing a winter emergency kit in your vehicle any time you travel.

For more information on winter emergency kits to prepare your family and furry friends for travel, visit PennDOT’s winter preparation website.

For more information on keeping pets safe during a winter storm, at home or on the road, visit Ready.gov’s website on Pet and Animal Safety 


The following safety harness products have been crash-test certified by the Center for Pet Safety:

In 2016, Newswatch 16 also highlighting the results of a new study from the Center For Pet Safety (CPS) done in partnership with Subaru of America.  The research highlighted crash test results involving our furry family members. The results demonstrated that most pet crates and seats tested (cats and dogs included) don’t hold up in car crashes along with pet harnesses.

Click here to check out the actual study and top performers from the crate/seat study.

For the harness testing results, head here. Note: No live animals were harmed. The testing used “weighted dog and cat dummies.”

Another item to keep in mind, pet products aren’t regulated by the government and not tested by the Consumer Product Safety Commission.

You can view our 2016 Newswatch 16 story here.

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