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Seat Belts for Dogs: Crazy or Crucial


Most dogs love sticking their heads out car windows. It’s the ultimate freedom … taking in all the sights, sounds and smells with fur, ears and jowls flapping in the wind! Of course, you love your dogs. They’re part of the family and you want them to enjoy the ride. You also want them to be safe. They’re your canine kiddos after all.

Unfortunately, a lot of things can go wrong in the car. Dogs can cause their drivers to become distracted. They can leap out of moving vehicles to chase cats, birds and other dogs. Then there’s the big risk: Other cars can crash into you, creating an impact strong enough to send your beloved pets flying.

What does the law say about seat belts for dogs?

Hawaii has two statutes that apply. According to Section 219C-124(b), dogs are not allowed to sit on the driver’s lap, and the same goes for other animals as well as other people. Section 15-24.22(b) states that no dog or other animal may be transported on a public street or highway unless the animal is placed in a container or tethered in the vehicle. Failure to comply with the laws can lead to citations of $97 or $57, respectively.

It’s not that lawmakers dislike dogs – quite the opposite. According to a Hawaii News Now, having a loose dog in a car is a distraction for the driver and a danger for the dog. You may think your dog is safe, but some dogs have fallen out of vehicles while enjoying that cool breeze.

Why put your “best friend” at risk?

You would never let your human children roam around the car or hang their bodies out the car window. Yet, these activities are equally dangerous for your pooch. And if your dog is on your lap, making it harder for you to control the steering wheel, or at your feet, interfering with the pedals, a crash becomes more likely.

Do the right thing and keep your dog secured.

One option is to use a pet carrier or crate. Because your pet’s well-being is the main concern here, look for one that’s known to be safe. The Sleepypod Carriers have been crash test certified by the Center for Pet Safety.

If you want to give your dog more freedom in the car, a tether is another option. The EzyDog CLICK Adjustable Dog Car Restraint is like a leash that connects directly into the seat belt buckle and is supposed to be used with a harness. There are other similar products out there, such as the Bergan Auto Harness with Tether. Pick one that’s the right size for your dog for maximum comfort and safety.

With the weather heating up, there’s another precaution too – be careful of leaving your dog inside a parked car while you run errands or shop. Vehicles heat up and reach dangerous temperatures very quickly.

From all of us at First Insurance Company of Hawaii, here’s to safe summer cruising with Fido!