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I had the misfortune last Monday of being hit from behind at a red light. I was stopped and waiting for the light when I was rear ended by a car that was going 40-45mph and never even tried to stop. Drunk driver. Pushed me into the car in front of me as well so I suffered two impacts. I had my dog, Bill in the car. The fireman had to use the "jaws of life" to get him out of the car. Thankfully he was crated and we both walked away from the scene.

 

I'm confident that the story might have ended another way had he not been crated. It was a good reminder to me and to everyone that a crate is probably the safest way to travel if possible. A good friend also reminded me that it is a good idea to leave clear instructions on how to deal with your pets in case of an accident. She uses a form with emergency contact info and guarantee of veterinary care and treatment and encloses that in a plastic pencil case which is attached to the crate.

 

I always worried about being rear ended with the dogs in the back but I'm really pleased how the car and the crate held up.

 

Car was totalled

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The impact pushed the compartment that stowed the spare tire forward. I had three crates in the car that are all ruined.

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And this is Bill's crate. Not too bad for such a blow.

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Be safe out there!

 

Michelle

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Hello everyone,

 

Michelle, it is such a relief that both you and your dog, Bill, were able to walk away from such an accident! Thanks for your post reminding us that the safest way to transport our dogs is within a sturdy crate, too. Your post mentioned the instruction letter that I feel is also essential when traveling with our dogs, and here is a link to that letter.

 

I can not take responsibility for creating this letter, as that credit goes to the late Ethel Conrad. I still can remember seeing her letter taped to the dash of the big, gray station wagon in which she transported her dogs. Ethel kindly allowed me to revise and publish the letter to several dog related periodicals, and it is now on the internet (some websites give credit to Ethel, but, unfortunately, some do not).

 

Michelle's post mentioned the pouch in which I keep my emergency instructions, and here is a photo of what she described.

 

post-6118-1278904910_thumb.jpg

 

Safe travels to all,

nancy

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Thanks for posting this, Michelle, and a much bigger thanks that you and Bill are going to be fine (I'm sure there are a few aches and pains to deal with).

 

It is so important to crate or seat belt dogs in the car for so many reasons, and this is one of them.

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What brand/type of crate is the one pictured? I always like to use tested products and I'd say this qualifies. Also, by any chance did you have any plastic crates in the car? If so, how'd they hold up?

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Scary stuff! Hope Bill doesn't become car phobic now. That had to be frightening, for both of you! Glad everyone's okay!

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WOW, Michelle, I'm so glad you and Bill were OK! Yegads!!!! Hope you and Bill are not suffering any ill effects, other than the (not inconsiderable) nuisance factor!

 

I've always driven with Duncan in the back of my wagon, with one of those vertical barriers between the passenger compartment and the back. This is making me reconsider the wisdom of that. His "large" crate only fits (in my Passat wagon) sideways though, making it a pain to get him in and out. The wagon has to last us quite a few more years - and it's a much better vehicle for transporting the dog (and for road trips) than DH's Mini.

 

What do others do? Put a smaller crate into a vehicle that may not allow a dog as much room to spread out? Leash the dog to the barrier? (though I could see a barrier coming loose if a car got kersmooshed as bad as Michelle's car did, and a dog still managing to take off in a panic if the back of the car flew open). Attach a harness to one of the seatbelts in the passenger compartment (with the barrier still in place?).

 

Yikes....

 

And thanks to Nancy for the info on a "car safety" letter. I'm planning a long road trip (drive to New Hampshire) in a couple of weeks, though there's no reason why I shouldn't put something like this together NOW to fix to the barrier (or crate).

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How do you seatbelt a dog? Vala's crate won't fit in my tiny Pontiac Sunfire.

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did you have any plastic crates in the car? If so, how'd they hold up?

Wachusett American Eskimos has a website with photos of plastic crates that went through a similar accident. The owner of that site has also gotten permission to post a pdf of a series of German crash tests with dog dummies that is quite an eye opener. I strongly recommend checking it out. The take home message is that dogs in horizontal crates do better than dogs in crates aligned with the long axis of the vehicle (if that makes sense). Seat belts? No comparison.

 

But if you must choose seat belts over crates, Holly at Huber Hound has an in depth discussion of what features to look for, with a number of products evaluated.

 

As long as I'm linking, Taj MutHall has a post with several variants of the letter with instructions for rescuers, including places where you can buy fancy ones with pouches for vet records, etc.

 

Michelle, I'm so glad you and Bill are okay, and thank you so much for posting. Firsthand reports from real people are the best wakeup call for those of us who've been blithely going through life unaware of dangers we can actually protect our dogs from with a little extra effort.

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How do you seatbelt a dog? Vala's crate won't fit in my tiny Pontiac Sunfire.

I am sure seatbelts are not as safe as good crates, but in our small cars, they are the only option when I'm travelling with three dogs, lots of gear, additional people, etc. Plus, I have to admit, I don't have car crates in addition to my house crates.

 

In my Subaru, there are attachment points on either side, and one dog is attached to each of those. The third dog's harness is attached to the ceiling attachment (made for a child's car seat tether).

 

The dogs adjusted to the use of the seatbelts quickly and, since we always use them, they are ready to have them put on and snugged up. They seem very good at not getting tangled up in any way and travel quite comfortably. Crates would be a better option if it was an option that my car would allow.

 

When I travel with two, I can fit in two 36" wire crates as long as one has a long-side door and the other has an inward-opening end door (that one is accessed from the rear side door, and the other from the back door).

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What do others do? Put a smaller crate into a vehicle that may not allow a dog as much room to spread out? Leash the dog to the barrier? (though I could see a barrier coming loose if a car got kersmooshed as bad as Michelle's car did, and a dog still managing to take off in a panic if the back of the car flew open). Attach a harness to one of the seatbelts in the passenger compartment (with the barrier still in place?).

 

I have a hatchback and like you the crate will only fit in the cargo area sideways unless I fold the seat down. My dogs ride in a slightly smaller crate than they use at home (32" vs 36") so that entry is easier.

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I am so relieved to hear that everyone is ok!

 

And thank you so much for posting the pictures and information.

 

I too only have the ability, for now, to seat belt my dogs in the back seat. (I have a Mini Cooper.) I am hoping that within the next year to trade in for a more dog friendly vehicle, hopefully, a Honda Element.

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I use Midwest crates. I had one plastic Vari Kennel behind the front passenger seat and the door popped out. I thought it was cracked in the front but it was just knocked out of alignment. I put it all back together and it seems to be fine.

 

The car was a Toyota Matrix and I am very, very pleased how it held up to such impact in the back.

 

Michelle

 

 

What brand/type of crate is the one pictured? I always like to use tested products and I'd say this qualifies. Also, by any chance did you have any plastic crates in the car? If so, how'd they hold up?
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One of my metal Midwest crates has double doors. One on the short side and one on the long side. Gives you a little more flexibility in where you can place it in the car without the dog having to come out sideways.

 

Michelle

 

WOW, Michelle, I'm so glad you and Bill were OK! Yegads!!!! Hope you and Bill are not suffering any ill effects, other than the (not inconsiderable) nuisance factor!

 

I've always driven with Duncan in the back of my wagon, with one of those vertical barriers between the passenger compartment and the back. This is making me reconsider the wisdom of that. His "large" crate only fits (in my Passat wagon) sideways though, making it a pain to get him in and out. The wagon has to last us quite a few more years - and it's a much better vehicle for transporting the dog (and for road trips) than DH's Mini.

 

What do others do? Put a smaller crate into a vehicle that may not allow a dog as much room to spread out? Leash the dog to the barrier? (though I could see a barrier coming loose if a car got kersmooshed as bad as Michelle's car did, and a dog still managing to take off in a panic if the back of the car flew open). Attach a harness to one of the seatbelts in the passenger compartment (with the barrier still in place?).

 

Yikes....

 

And thanks to Nancy for the info on a "car safety" letter. I'm planning a long road trip (drive to New Hampshire) in a couple of weeks, though there's no reason why I shouldn't put something like this together NOW to fix to the barrier (or crate).

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[ The take home message is that dogs in horizontal crates do better than dogs in crates aligned with the long axis of the vehicle (if that makes sense).

I plan to read the site, but I take this to mean that for a rear impact, crates do better if they are hit from the side and not the front or back. Is that correct?

 

J.

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Jeez. I have 6 crates containing dogs in my van and I live in a constant state of terror of an accident. Manipulating the space to fit 6 crates is a bit tricky, but as a result, I guess statistics prove that only Dexter and the foster dog would be likely to best survive an impact. The other crates are horizontal within the car. Maybe Tweed and Dexter should trade places, as I like Tweed better...

 

I knew a woman who was hit on the highway and her car flipped over into a water-filled ditch. Her crated dogs drowned as nobody could get them out in time. OTOH, I know a woman who was also in a collision on the highway and her uncrated dog was ejected from the vehicle and killed by another car on the road. So I suppose, in the end, if it's their time it's their time no matter what you do to keep them safe in the car.

 

I am glad you and Bill were okay. It's scary out there. Thanks for the reminder about instructions re: the dogs in the car. I'm going to produce one today.

 

RDM

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Thank God you and Bill are ok. I thought that was a Matrix. I have one as well. Nice to know how happy you were with how it held up. Oddly enough, I had an accident in mine last week, too. Only I did the rear ending (don't ask, no, I wasn't drunk!). It wasn't a bad accident, but my husband commented that the damage to the front of my car showed it did exactly what it was supposed to in an accident. Regardless of Toyota's recent problems, I'm still a fan.

 

Anyway, thanks for the important reminder. My dogs are always crated in the car, but it's important to get the message out there.

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I also have a Toyota Matrix and I too was hit from the rear by a driver going about 40mph. I had one Corgi in a plastic crate just inside the hatch, and the rear seats were up. The dog was shaken up, but all of the doors on the car stayed closed, and everything inside was a jumble. I had $4400 worth of damage, including a bent rear axle. Once insurance paid for the repairs, I traded it in.... on another Matrix. The only thing I changed was buying a model with 4wd and side airbags. You can't be too careful out there!!!

 

Debbie

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Wow. I'm so glad you are okay, and the lesson you share is sobering. My dogs travel loose in the camper shell on the back of my small Mazda pickup. There's very little room back there for much else, certainly not room for more than one crate with the shell on, but it makes one think. If I were in a serious accident such as a rollover or heavy side impact, it's probable that my camper shell would just pop right off. Dead dogs.

 

Man. What to do? Well, if nothing else, I'm going to type up my own version of an "In Case of Accident Pet Instructions" letter, for my trip to the Lacamas SDT this August ...

 

Again glad you and Bill are all right. Thanks for sharing powerful food for thought.

Cheers ~

 

Gloria

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I am sure seatbelts are not as safe as good crates, but in our small cars, they are the only option when I'm travelling with three dogs, lots of gear, additional people, etc.

 

Hmm. I'm not sure that crates are safer than seatbelts. In fact, for the most part I stopped crating in the car though I have room in my CR-V. I feel my dogs are safer in the passenger area of the car with seatbelts and side curtain airbags. Then again, the OP's story makes me realize that maybe the way back is safer than I thought it was and not just the crumple zone I've been calling it. But as RDM points out, depending on the accident, the various restraint systems all have their pluses and minuses. Probably there isn't a whole lot of research on the subject.

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I plan to read the site, but I take this to mean that for a rear impact, crates do better if they are hit from the side and not the front or back. Is that correct?

You've probably read the report by now, but here is the rationale: "As the pet is positioned transversely to the direction of travel, loads are distributed over the whole body and the vertebral column is not compressed." The test vehicle in this study simulated a 50 kph frontal impact; side impacts were not addressed.

 

Wondering whether the side curtain airbags in your car do any good for your dogs? Read this: Who benefits from side and head curtain airbags? Not all side curtain airbags are alike, so it does depend on the vehicle.

 

No car-dog-crate-whatever configuration will protect against all possible accidents, but there is a lot of information out there. I just try to educate myself, then configure the car I have as safely as I can for the dogs I have. But in the end, there are other factors, like avoiding driving when drowsy for example, that can shrink the likelihood that one's dogs will be injured in a car accident to a much greater degree than any tinkering one might do with the type or location of restraint systems.

 

Not to mention...ahem...avoiding cellphone use when at the wheel :rolleyes:

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Hmm. I'm not sure that crates are safer than seatbelts. In fact, for the most part I stopped crating in the car though I have room in my CR-V. I feel my dogs are safer in the passenger area of the car with seatbelts and side curtain airbags. Then again, the OP's story makes me realize that maybe the way back is safer than I thought it was and not just the crumple zone I've been calling it. But as RDM points out, depending on the accident, the various restraint systems all have their pluses and minuses. Probably there isn't a whole lot of research on the subject.

 

Setting aside the question of safety for the dog in riding in a crate, two other benefits to crating the dog in a vehicle are that the dog can't contribute to an accident by becoming a distraction to you and if you should be in even a minor accident and the door pops open (or someone opens the door to help you) the dog can't get loose and run off.

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And one other, very important, aspect of confining a dog - in case of an accident. you don't want a dog getting protective when police/rescue assistance is trying to help or extricate you. That confinement alone could save your dog's life.

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