Let’s talk about travel with pets.
This is a subject that comes up often with my customers and on social media, and for some pet owners it can be a part of everyday life. Unfortunately, some owners not securing their pets correctly is still an issue that needs discussing. So, I thought it be useful to talk about what the legal requirements specifically are and why securing your pets when traveling is not about you as an owner, or whether your dog is well behaved, it’s about preventing accidents and injuries, including to your pet.
Rule 57 of the highway code states “When in a vehicle make sure dogs or other animals are suitably restrained so they cannot distract you while you are driving or injure you, or themselves, if you stop quickly”. 6th Nov 2017 direct.gov.
So, what’s the big deal?
You are, by not restraining your dog when traveling, putting not only their life at risk but also yourself and others in the event of an accident. You should also know that not securing your dog could land you with a hefty fine of up to £5,000 and it may even void your car insurance!
Perhaps part of the problem is the use of the word ‘restrain’ which may sound unpleasant to some. Instead let us use the term ‘secure’. In the same way you secure a baby in a car seat to protect them, you should secure your dog as well. There are several different ways you can do this and there is something to suit every car and family.
You may use a dog crate, but if you do, make sure it is an appropriate size for your dog. I would also recommend a non-slip mat rather than a blanket or towel so they don’t slide around all over the place.
If you are using a car guard to keep your dog in the boot, make sure it is fitted properly! You don’t want it popping out as you’re driving and for your dog to hop into the front seat, I know more than one person that this has happened to!
I use a seat belt adapter for both my dogs. This clips on to their harness and plugs into the seat belt buckle. We leave the adapter in the car so it’s there whenever we need it. I wouldn’t advise you use these on a collar as in the event of a sudden brake, you risk pulling them tightly around the neck.
When it comes to very young pups it can be very tempting to have them sit in the lap of a passenger, after all they’re so small and sleepy, but the fact is; if there is an accident there’s really nothing to stop them going flying. It’s far better for them if you put them in a pet carrier that you can secure to the seat with the seat belt, in the same way you do with a baby seat.
This is the same for cats, rabbit and guinea pigs. In a pinch you could use a ventilated cardboard box, but make sure it has a secure lid! If you have a cat, rabbit, guinea pig or small pet you should really have a suitable size carrier, I use ones that have an opening top as well as a door.
At the end of any length journey, whether it’s a trip to the vets or moving house the most important thing is that you and your pet have a made it safely.