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Driving with pets

Simple solutions to keep your pets safe in the car

Driving with pets is something many of us do, whether we teach Snuggles the cat from a young age to tolerate car drives without throwing up, or Woofles to sit like a good dog for many hours on the back seat. Our pets are an integral part of our family dynamic and for many of us prefer to bring them with us on adventures instead of using housesitter or kennel services.

Often the thought doesn’t cross our mind of what happens to our pets in the event of an accident. The human occupants are strapped in, what about our furry family in the car with us? Losing a pet is heartbreaking, even worse is losing a pet in a car accident, or having a fender bender on the highway that sees Snuggles or Woofles make a terrified escape through traffic.

The managing director of MasterDrive, Eugene Herbert, says examples like this emphasises the importance of restraining animals just as you would human travellers. “It is important to restrain your pets for a number of reasons. The first is to prevent them from causing a distraction while you are driving by moving around or trying to reach you while you should be focusing on the road.

“The second is to provide them with protection in the case of a crash or abrupt evasive action to avoid a crash. Your seatbelt prevents you from flying through the windscreen, lurching forward or hitting the dash or steering wheel when you brake abruptly. Unrestrained animals do not have the same protection. They are at even greater risk if they are standing when you brake suddenly.”

With the many options available to restrain animals, not doing so is unnecessary. “Whether you teach your pets to travel in safely secured crates or make use of seatbelt restraints designed for animals, we urge to start doing so right away. Even if travelling is something your pets are accustomed to, anything can happen at any time. Restraining your pets is something these members of your family deserve.”

Follow these extra tips to keep your animals safe while you travel:

  • Never let your pet travel on the front seat
  • All pets must travel with a collar/harness on, this makes them easier to catch and signals to other people who spot the animal that it could be a lost pet
  • Attach a tag with all your information to your pet’s collar in case they should still get loose from the car in a crash or in case they get loose at a stop
  • Train your pet to travel in a crate or with a restraint from when they are a puppy or kitten
  • Never leave your pet in a stationary car, even with the windows open. Temperatures can quickly reach over 40 degrees Celsius
  • Do not let your pet travel with their head out of the window
  • Keep a bowl with water and food in the car
  • Keep a collar/harness and leash in the car to help someone catch your pet, or to help catch a lost pet

Protect both humans and animals alike by safely restraining every person and animal that travels in the car. To encourage safe driving behaviour with your pets, MasterDrive is giving away a number of safety belt clips for dogs.

Email editor@masterdrive.co.za to enter. The winners will be notified by MasterDrive in March.

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Images: supplied

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