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Reference Desk July 2012

Center for Pet Safety Videos Show Failure of Pet Auto Restraints

    WASHINGTON, DC, July 10, 2012—The Center for Pet Safety has released the videos from their recently announced crashworthiness pilot study of canine automotive restraints. The harnesses were tested by third-party independent test laboratory, MGA Research Corporation, to conditions of the Federal Motor Vehicle Safety Standard 213 for child safety restraints.

    During the crash simulations the specially developed crash dogs were subjected to standardized crash conditions while wearing popular pet travel harnesses that are widely promoted to protect pets during an automobile accident.

    The purpose of releasing the videos (viewer discretion advised) is to illustrate the necessity for standards and test protocols for pet products – the focus of the Center’s mission. The four harnesses tested as part of the control group experienced multipoint failures, including complete separation from the connection point at the time of impact and one very gruesome result when the adjustment buckles slipped, allowing the harness to move upward and decapitate the test dog.

    The first of the four videos shows a multi-point failure of the harness at the time of impact and the specially designed crash test dog is slammed at full speed into the back of the front bench seat. No protection would be provided to either the dog or to vehicle occupants in similar crash conditions.

    "These are very disturbing videos. They indicate the type of failures we expect to see when most of the pet travel restraints are measured against standardized crash conditions,” says Lindsey Wolko, founder and chairman of the Center for Pet Safety, a 501(c)(3) nonprofit organization which is undertaking a study to define safe travel for companion animals and their owners in a moving vehicle. Currently, animal restraints are not held to specific safety standards and testing by the manufacturer is not a requirement.

    Although not identified in the study, the control group of harnesses tested are considered quality brands within the pet product industry and are widely marketed as safety devices for companion animal travel. The harness size selection for the CPS pilot study was based on the American Kennel Club’s Most Popular Dog Breed List from 2010, where six of the top ten dog breeds were within the “large” harness category. A realistic crash test dog was specially designed, weighted and instrumented for data collection.

    Wolko says she struggled with releasing the videos: "These are horrific images of our realistic test dog enduring standardized crash conditions while wearing a safety harness that was designed to protect it. The videos are disturbing and viewer discretion is advised.”

    Source: Center for Pet Safety

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