2 Investigates: Do dog seat belts keep your pet safe?

by: Jim Strickland Updated:

Loading

Crash tests show that safety harnesses designed to protect your dog in a crash are coming up short.

 "I was in tears. It was a mess," said Lindsey Wolko of the results from a preliminary round of testing. 

Wolko founded the Center for Pet Safety after her own dog was severely hurt in a crash, despite wearing a crash harness. She spoke to Channel 2 consumer investigator Jim Strickland about her mission.

"Manufacturers can do and say pretty much whatever they want, and it's up to the pet owner to prove them wrong," said Wolko, who set out to do just that. "I want to make sure these products do their job, and if you don't do your job, then you shouldn't be doing this."

In tests conducted at a Virginia research facility and co-sponsored by Subaru, researchers designed special crash test dummy dogs.  The tests replicated violent, head-on wrecks.

Wolko only tested harnesses if the manufacturers claimed to have tested them themselves.

In one test, a crucial part of the harness pulled apart.  In other tests, the dogs are tethered so loosely they can still go flying from the back seat.

Only one brand, called the Sleepy Pod, kept a small, medium and large dummy dog in place.

The other harnesses did serve to keep the dog away from the driver while operating the car.

"The majority of the products that you find on the market are strictly distraction prevention tools," said Wolko.

Wolko wants the industry to adopt standards all harnesses must meet if they're to claim they work in a crash.

The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration told Strickland it has no plans to regulate dog harness effectiveness. 

The head of the American Pet Products Association, Bob Vetere, emailed Strickland a statement which reads in part:

"APPA and many of our members have cooperated with Ms. Wolko and her group, so although we haven't adopted a formal position on the recent CPS report, the effort to improve and enhance pet safety and pet restraints would seem to be consistent with the goals of APPA and our members."

Crash tests show that safety harnesses designed to protect your dog in a crash are coming up short.       

"I was in tears. It was a mess," said Lindsey Wolko of the results from a preliminary round of testing. 

Wolko founded the Center for Pet Safety after her own dog was severely hurt in a crash, despite wearing a crash harness. She spoke to Channel 2 consumer investigator Jim Strickland about her mission.

"Manufacturers can do and say pretty much whatever they want, and it's up to the pet owner to prove them wrong," said Wolko, who set out to do just that. "I want to make sure these products do their job, and if you don't do your job, then you shouldn't be doing this."

In tests conducted at a Virginia research facility and co-sponsored by Subaru, researchers designed special crash test dummy dogs.  The tests replicated violent, head-on wrecks.

Wolko only tested harnesses if the manufacturers claimed to have tested them themselves.

In one test, a crucial part of the harness pulled apart.  In other tests, the dogs are tethered so loosely they can still go flying from the back seat.

Only one brand, called the Sleepy Pod, kept a small, medium and large dummy dog in place.   

The other harnesses did serve to keep the dog away from the driver while operating the car.

"The majority of the products that you find on the market are strictly distraction prevention tools," said Wolko.

Wolko wants the industry to adopt standards all harnesses must meet if they're to claim they work in a crash.

The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration told Strickland it has no plans to regulate dog harness effectiveness. 

The head of the American Pet Products Association, Bob Vetere, emailed Strickland a statement which reads in part:

"APPA and many of our members have cooperated with Ms. Wolko and her group, so although we haven't adopted a formal position on the recent CPS report, the effort to improve and enhance pet safety and pet restraints would seem to be consistent with the goals of APPA and our members."