This article has been previously published in my old blog 3rd January 2014. I decided to publish it again as the previous article was written only in Finnish and also because this topic never gets old.
Human safety in car crashes has been tested for years with different kind of crash tests, but when it comes to pets, tests are not so common. However, the results are really alarming, as most of the so-called safety harnesses fail these tests. Most of the harnesses tear completely during these tests throwing the dog against the windshield and human travelers. Even the best harnesses only protect humans and dogs get serious , even deadly, damages during the car crash. Finnish car magazine, Tuulilasi, wrote in August 2013 that when testing dog car safety harnesses, all products failed. Some of the harnesses would have even strangled the actual dog in a car crash. There are little to no regulations when it comes to dog car safety products. So even if manufacturers use weak plastic locks in their products, they are actually doing nothing wrong. Probably pet owners might see this “a bit” differently, especially when harnesses are often sold emphasizing the safety. This causes that many of the pet owners trust these products blindly. Center for Pet Safety has published a video about Dog Harness Crash Test, which shows perfectly how weak these products are and how there is no reason to trust them.
I also searched few online stores selling dog car harnesses, and they never mention these weaknesses. Only Kulkukoira.com openly confesses, that plastic parts are too weak for safety products and they only sell AllSafe dog harnesses containing metallic parts. AllSafe harnesses have been crash-tested at Statens Provnings- och Forskningsinstitut in Sweden and German TÜV has tested them and given them GS-record. However, I was not able to find any tests results or mention about what this GS actually means.
So, forget about harnesses, what about cages and boxes? The situation is not much better. Basic plastic boxes or metallic cages are not meant for a safe car traveling. They only help to avoid accidents, as the dogs cannot jump around in the car or if they are placed in the trunk. Even then the cage might kill the dog during the accident if it gets deformed badly (sharp plastic or metallic parts might harm the dog). most of these boxes or cages have not been tested at all, but pet stores still recommend them for a safe car traveling.
There are two cage options, that have passed car tests. One is Swedish Variogate, which also has crash test video on Youtube. The second one, US made Gunner Kennels G1 Intermediate can be seen on the Subaru-sponsored crash test. Variogate costs about 500-7000 euros and is available in Finland as well. G1 Intermediate costs about 500$ but it is not sold anywhere in Finland.
There is also Sleepypod, that is soft traveling box for small dogs and cats. Sleepypod has also passed crash tests, and a video of the test can be seen on Youtube: Sleepypod Crash Test Success. Sleepypod costs about 2000 euros.