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Group pushes for dog safety harnesses that actually work

Center for Pet Safety

The reason we're supposed to wear seat belts is pretty clear to most of us by now.  It's to keep us from becoming human projectiles in a crash.

That's the same reason more and more dog owners are buying safety harnesses for their dogs.  But, unlike seat belts, there is no independent testing of dog harnesses and no national standard.

The Center for Pet Safety hopes to change that.

Last year, the group selected four of the strongest safety harnesses intended for large dogs and tested them with a new dog test dummy on a track.

All four failed, miserably.  One completely broke, allowing the dog dummy to fly through the vehicle.  Another wrapped itself around the neck of the dog dummy.  In real life, that would have strangled a dog.  You can see videos of the tests here.

Now, with funding provided by Suburu, the Center plans to conduct more extensive testing, and use the tests to develop a standard that harness manufacturers can voluntarily adopt.

The group now has a test dummy that comes in three dog sizes, small, medium, and large, and will test most of the harnesses made by companies that claim to do their own safety testing.

Lindsey Wolko is founder of the Center for Pet Safety.  She says it's not just about keeping the dog safe.

This is actually consumer safety, because if these products fail to perform, and you are in an accident, the consumer themselves and their passengers and the kids in the child safety seat are at risk. I mean, imagine having a 75-pound German Shepherd coming at you at 30 miles an hour. That's gonna be painful.

Suburu says seven out of ten of its customers own dogs, so it has a special affinity for the issue.  The company also prominently features dogs in many of its ads.

Tracy Samilton covers energy and transportation, including the auto industry and the business response to climate change for Michigan Public. She began her career at Michigan Public as an intern, where she was promptly “bitten by the radio bug,” and never recovered.