Updated on August 9, 2015
Canine Crash Studies Evaluate Crate and Carrier Safety
You’ve no doubt seen those dreadful car crash test videos, the ones that feature slow motion footage of what happens to human crash dummies during a head on collision. With financial support from Subaru of America, the Center for Pet Safety (CPS) has taken crash test studies to a whole new level. CPS has just released data on what they call their 2015 Carrier Crashworthiness Studies. This research was performed to evaluate the safety and effectiveness of various pet crates and carriers in the event of a car crash.
Who is the Center for Pet Safety?
CPS is a non-profit research and advocacy organization dedicated to companion animal and consumer safety. The organization uses scientific methods to assess a variety of pet products and establish safety criteria and test protocols. One of CPS’s goals is to measure whether or not products designed for pet safety actually provide protection consistent with manufacturers’ claims. By the way, CPS is not affiliated with the pet product industry.
Canine crashworthiness studies are not unprecedented. In 2013, CPS conducted a Harness Crashworthiness Study in conjunction with Subaru of America and MGA Research Corporation, an independent national highway traffic safety administration contracted testing laboratory. Pet harnesses are the equivalent of seatbelts for people. Major differences in popular harness restraints were discovered. Several of the harnesses failed catastrophically in a way that could cause serious injury to both the pet and passengers within the vehicle.
2015 research goals
During a car accident, not only is an unrestrained pet at risk for injury, the animal can become a projectile capable of striking and injuring a human passenger. The same holds true for a carrier or crate that doesn’t remain fully secured at its connection points within the vehicle during a crash.
Many crate and carrier manufacturers report that their products are “tested,” “crash tested,” “offer crash protection,” or are designed “for use in a vehicle.” To date, there are no standardized test protocols in the United States that substantiate these claims.
The stated purposes of the 2015 crashworthiness studies included:
- Independently evaluate the crate and carrier products that are associated with claims of “tested”, “crash-tested” or “crash protection.”
- Examine the safety, structural integrity and crashworthiness of crates and carriers.
- Examine carrier and crate connection options to help educate pet owners.
- Collect performance data necessary to support a formal test protocol and ratings guidelines for pet travel crates.
- Determine top performing crate and carrier brands.
Michael McHale, Subaru’s director of corporate communications described the purpose of his company’s research as follows:
We at Subaru recognize the importance of keeping the entire family safe on the road, including our beloved pets. Alongside Center for Pet Safety, we are proud to help lead the charge in identifying the best crates and carriers for pet lovers everywhere, while, more importantly, making pet parents aware of the safety measures they can take and the dangers that can occur if they don’t. We recommend that owners choose the right sized crate for their dog, which is generally six inches longer than the body of the dog. We are also pleased that our crossover vehicles, which are award winners themselves for safety, accept most crate and carrier sizes.
Subaru and CPS conducted their 2015 Crate and Carrier Crashworthiness Study using crash test dogs that were designed to approximate the weight and size of real dogs. They were placed in the crates and carriers during rigorous crash testing. Within this study, crates were defined as rigid, non-plastic structures, and carriers were rigid plastic structures and soft collapsible structures.
A successful outcome was defined by the following:
- The carrier or crate must fully contain the test dog before, during and after the crash test
- The carrier or crate and all device connection points must remain wholly connected to the test bench for the entirety of the test.
Most of the crates and carriers failed to meet the successful outcome criteria described above. In some cases the dog was expelled from the crate or carrier. In other cases the impact caused the crate or carrier to be released from its points of connection. There were three standout products:
- The top performing crate was the Gunner Kennels G1 Intermediate with 8’ Tie Down Straps. This crate withstood the most significant forces with a combination of structural support and integrity. This crate is unique in that it has a dual locking feature on the door that provides significant structural support in case of an accident. Additionally, the crate’s rubber feet provided better grip than other crates tested.
- The Pet Ego Forma Frame Jet Set Carrier was a top performing carrier. This carrier uses an ISOFIX-Latch that is designed to latch firmly into place, just like a child seat. This latch held securely and contained the test dog throughout the crash.
- The Sleepypod Mobile Pet Bed with PPRS Handilock was also named a 2015 top performing carrier. The simulants were fully contained and the carriers remained wholly connected to the test bench for the duration of the test.
Regarding the study results, Lindsey Wolko, Founder and CEO of Center for Pet Safety stated, “In partnership with Subaru, the 2015 studies were truly eye-opening and will once again help bring pet safety awareness to millions of pet parents around the globe.”
Kudos to CPS for performing these studies and hats off to Subaru of America for financing them. By the way, darned good marketing, Subaru!
Do you confine your dog when you travel by car? If so, how?
Nancy Kay, DVM
Diplomate, American College of Veterinary Internal Medicine
Author of Speaking for Spot: Be the Advocate Your Dog Needs to Live a Happy, Healthy, Longer Life
Author of Your Dog’s Best Health: A Dozen Reasonable Things to Expect From Your Vet
Recipient, Leo K. Bustad Companion Animal Veterinarian of the Year Award
Recipient, American Animal Hospital Association Animal Welfare and Humane Ethics Award
Recipient, Dog Writers Association of America Award for Best Blog
Recipient, Eukanuba Canine Health Award
Recipient, AKC Club Publication Excellence Award
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Please visit http://www.speakingforspot.com to read excerpts from Speaking for Spot and Your Dog’s Best Health. There you will also find “Advocacy Aids”- helpful health forms you can download and use for your own dog, and a collection of published articles on advocating for your pet’s health. Speaking for Spot and Your Dog’s Best Health are available at www.speakingforspot.com, Amazon.com, local bookstores, and your favorite online book seller.