The Surprising Results of a Crash Test on Pet Travel Safety Products

Photo by Patrick Danforth |

Photo by Patrick Danforth |

Off to grandma's house the pets are going more than ever before, and because pet owners want to be responsible – more than ever before – dogs are confined to carriers and booster seats or in harnesses. But not so fast, says the Center for Pet Safety (CPS) .

Subaru of America, Inc. recently funded a pilot study conducted by the non-profit and independent Washington D.C.-based CPS. Results indicate that despite marketing claims of safety, the pet booster seat and pet seat products tested were in fact unsafe. CPS CEO and founder Lindsey Wolco goes as far as calling the recently tested products “a complete disaster.”

She explains the products were put through their paces at MGA Research Corporation, an independent National Highway Traffic Safety Administration contracted testing laboratory. The Pet Travel Seat Pilot Study focused on crash testing products using the Federal Motor Vehicle Safety Standard crash conditions for child safety seats. Tests were conducted using specially designed crash test dogs of a variety of different weights and sizes.

Wolco say this was the first independent and professional testing of booster and pet seats for pets. “The industry has a long way to go,” she adds.

The problem is that some products connect to dog collars and harnesses. Connecting to a collar around a dog’s neck seems an obvious problem, potentially choking the dog. Connecting to the harness simply wasn’t effective, as the connection itself (to the booster or pet seat) often failed.

“Certainly, restraint and confinement is the way to go, as the driver is less likely to be distracted by a pet,” says Wolco. “Distraction might cause an accident, which obviously we don’t want. But we also want products which prove to not only safe but life-saving.”

The CPS certifies pet products using standardized and published standards and protocols. Some products are certified 5-stars, others 4-stars, or some fail certification.

The CPS is modeled after Consumer Reports and the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety. Wolco says that at this time the organization has only investigated pet travel products, but the long-term goal is to consider authenticity of claims of other pet products.

“Obviously pet food and pet pharma work within government restrictions, but there is no oversight for safety and efficacy of other pet products,” Wolco adds.

Based on the scientific tests and evidence collected over the past four years, in part through its partnership with Subaru, CPS can now identify the safest travel options for most pets from research conducted since 2011:

  • Harnesses (dogs 16-90 lbs.): Currently the Sleepypod Clickit Sport Harness holds a 5-Star Crash Test Rating.  Wolco adds, “We know of several manufacturers who are working toward certification but it takes time and a firm commitment to safety. “
  • Crates:  2015 Top Performer is the Gunner Kennel G1 Intermediate with Strength Rated Anchor Straps.
  • Carriers:  Center for Pet Safety recommends that small dogs travel in a carrier. 2015 Top Performing Carriers:  Sleepypod Mobile Pet Bed with PPRS Handilock, and the PetEgo JetSet Carrier with ISOFIX-LATCH Connection.

The Center for Pet Safety does not recommend the use of any pet travel seat or pet booster seat at this time.

Further details on the CPS website,

©Steve Dale Pet World, LLC; Tribune Content Agency

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Positively Expert: Steve Dale

Steve is a certified dog and cat behavior consultant, has written several books, hosts two nationally syndicated radio shows, and has appeared on numerous TV shows including "The Oprah Winfrey Show," "National Geographic Explorer," and "Pets Part of the Family." Steve’s blog is


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