Four Legged Animals Are Passengers Too:How Safe Are They?

I’ve often wondered about the safety of my trained and certified canine companions while I’m racing across town or country in motorized vehicles and flying machines.

My previous dog guide, Frisco, was with me when I attended a teachers’ conference. The woman I rode with asked me if my dog guide needed to be buckled in. She was joking. I responded to her question with a light hearted response – do you want to be the one to buckle him in? We both laughed

That was, however, a brilliant question. Why not have a precious pooch safe and secure like all passengers in any fast-moving vehicle?

My current dog guide Telly sometimes sits next to me when there is insufficient room for him to curl up on the floor at my feet. What will stop him from being catapulted out of the seat, or off of the floor or become a torpedo if the vehicle suddenly and forcefully stops?

There are seat belts for drivers and passengers. There are safety seats with seat belts for toddlers. Why not a safety harness for service animals and other pets? A service dog harnessed to the back of the front seat or the vehicle floor may reduce the risk of injury to all passengers.

All passengers on a flight have a seatbelt. Our service dogs do not. Why not?

The Air Carrier Access Act for passengers with disabilities who use service animals states:

In most circumstances, you must allow passengers’ service animals to accompany them at the airport and on their flights. Prohibiting service animals from flying in the cabin based on other passengers’ annoyance or discomfort is not an option. You may not charge for providing transportation to a passenger’s service animal. Foreign carriers are not required to permit service animals other than dogs to board. Service dogs are an extension of the handler. If the dog is injured, the mobility of the handler is compromised or perhaps even put at risk of injury or worse.

I read a Pet Project blog the other day. Somebody wrote 10 reasons why a service dog should be buckled up:

1. Protect your dog. You wear a seat belt, your kids wear a seat belt, and your pets should be belted in with a harness.

2. Protect yourself. If not restrained, your dog will become a projectile in an accident and cause great injury to the human occupants—at 30 mph, a 60-pound dog can cause an impact of 2,500 pounds.

3. Protect emergency aid workers. A terrified or injured animal is unpredictable and could keep paramedics from helping or might even injure them. Police might choose to shoot your dog if they fear for their safety.

4. Keep your dog from running away after an accident. An unrestrained dog could run off in fear or run into traffic and get hurt.

5. Prevent distraction of the driver, blocking of the driver’s view, or interference with operation of the vehicle.

6. Prevent your dog from being ejected from the car or jumping out the window.

7. Prevent your dog from jumping out when you stop and open the car door.

8. Prevent car sickness and stress. Your dog will feel more secure and won’t have to keep bracing himself for the movement of the car.

9. Prevent your dog from sticking its head out the window where it could be injured.

10. Prevent damage to the interior of your car from an uncontrolled dog.”

I’ve been on thousands of bus rides. There are no seat belts for people and certainly not for service animals. Some bus drivers have a heavy foot on the gas pedal and brake. I’ve been thrown forward many times on buses when the driver came to a sudden and unexpected stop. My dogs also slid from one place to another. Maybe safety harnesses for service animals and pets is a good idea after all.

What do you think?

Please let us know what you think! Leave your comments and thoughts here, as we’d love to get your perspective on this post, or any other posts at Access Press Unbound.

Clarencen can be contacted at

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