While you’re probably aware of the dangers of leaving your pet unattended in your car, you might not also be aware of the life-threatening danger you could be exposing you and your pets to, simply by transporting them incorrectly.
But did you also realise if you’re caught illegally transporting your pet you could be fined, lose points off your licence and even potentially go to jail?
Why is it dangerous to have animals unrestrained in vehicles?
Restraining your pet in your vehicle not only protects your pet…it also protects the human inhabitants in your car and the other drivers on the road.
If your cat or dog is able to move around your vehicle they can easily distract the driver, causing accidents to occur and potentially injuring or killing other people on the roads as well.
In the event of a crash or the need to suddenly apply the brakes, any unrestrained animals will be flung around the inside of your car. This not only increases the risk of injury and even death of your pets…it also turns your pet into a lethal weapon, with the ability to seriously injure or kill you and your other passengers, as well as cause serious car accidents.
And if your windows are wound down while you’re travelling in the car there is also the risk that your pet could intentionally jump or accidentally fall out of the window. An unrestrained dog on the tray of your ute is in even greater danger in the event of sudden braking or swerving, with an increased likelihood of them jumping or falling of the back of the vehicle.
In fact, according to RSPCA statistics, about 5000 dogs each year are injured or killed in Australia as a result of falling from a moving vehicle.
What are the penalties for illegally transporting your pet?
The Prevention of Cruelty to Animals Act in NSW clearly outlines the penalties for driving with an animal on your lap or on a motorcycle petrol tank.
“…due to concerns for both animal and human safety, it is a traffic offence to drive with an animal on your lap or to ride a motorcycle with an animal on the petrol tank. These offences are punishable by hefty fines and carry a 3 or 4 demerit point penalty, with a higher penalty if the offence occurs in a school zone.”
And if you’re caught with your dog unrestrained in the back of an open ute, in addition to being fined…you may also spend time in prison.
Other states and territories have similar laws to NSW. In Victoria, it is an offence to transport cats in the boot of your car. In fact, right across Australia you have ‘a duty of care’ when transporting your pets.
So, what is the safest way to transport your pets?
If your car is fitted with airbags do not allow your pet to travel on the front passenger seat as the airbags could prove fatal for your pet in the event of an accident. Just like children, most pets are safer travelling in the back seat anyway, and they are less likely to distract the driver.
Cats can get easily stressed in the car and may prove very distracting to drivers if they begin to scratch and meow or try to escape out of the car. Placing them in an enclosed carrier with their favourite bedding or toys will help keep them calm and prevent them from escaping out the car windows. Secure the carrier to the back seat with a seatbelt or place the carrier in the back section of a station wagon or 4WD vehicle.
The easiest way to transport your dog is by using a dog car harness, which secures your dog via a seatbelt link attachment. Dog car harnesses come in a range of sizes and need to be fitted correctly before use. Harnesses are a far safer option than attaching the seat belt link attachment to your dog’s collar.
You can also use a hammock seat cover or front seat barrier to restrict any access to the front seat by your dog, or they can travel in the open cargo area of a wagon type vehicle behind a cargo barrier. And if your dog is small enough they can also travel in a travelling crate or an enclosed carrier.
Driving with pets, especially when they’re unwell, can be a potentially stressful, dangerous or even illegal experience…but it doesn’t have to be like this.
If you need to take your pet to the vet but you’re not sure whether you have the ability to get them there safely and legally, why not get the vet to come to you instead?
Whether your pet is too ill to safely transport, gets stressed in the car, doesn’t like being restrained, or you simply can’t get transport them safely yourself…
…at Vetaround, we can come to you instead.
We have a fully equipped van for truly mobile house vet calls. We can comprehensively assess and manage your pet’s health care in your own home…taking away the stress and risks of transportation by car.
Find out more.