By Chris Woodyard, USA TODAY
As just about any motorist knows by now, the federal government has laid down stringent requirements regarding auto crash safety -- whether it's seat belts, air bags or dashboard materials. But what about the safety of dogs in auto accidents?
There are no requirement on the strength of safety of pet restraints in cars, says the Center for Pet Safety, a non-profit service which has been conducting crash tests with dog dummies to test the effectiveness of dog restraints.
So far, the results aren't encouraging. The initial test using the same kind of sled used for crash test dummies showed every restraint for pets failed. The tests showed the likelihood of serious injuries or deaths to the animals. Moreover, pets can become "missiles" in accidents and injure people as well. Not only were many restraints not strong enough, but dogs could be choked by them in an accident.
A 2011 study by AAA found that only 16% of owners restrain their dogs in cars,Automotive News, which reported Monday on the center's crash research.
The center's testing is financially backed by Subaru, which says the research is important to its owners.
Subaru spokesman Kevin McHale says the automaker was "appalled" to find out about the lack of pet restraint standards. "Half our owners have dogs so we really want to make sure they know what they are buying when they buy a pet harness," he says.