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How Much Do We Really Love Our Dogs?

October is National Pet Wellness Month and October 22 is National Make a Dog’s Day – make pet safety a priority in your vehicle just as your do at home or at the park

I have had pets for most of my adult life. When I was married, we had dogs, cats, birds and fish. Every once in a while, a stray rabbit would come calling. I also had 3 children and animals seemed to go with children. My daughter Cari, before she was killed, would bring home every stray animal that wandered in the area between our house and school. She found a cat that was pregnant and then there were kittens.  Next, the cutest Yorkie got my daughter’s attention.  And more animals kept showing up out of nowhere. I think these darling lost little animals waited in anticipation of my daughter’s arrival. We didn’t think too much about securing them in the car at the time. We did put the cats in their carriers, but the dogs roamed free within the confines of the car. 

During the pandemic, I like everyone else made the decision to have a dog. Every time I thought of getting a puppy, I would watch people from my window bundled up at ungodly hours, leash in hand and dog behind. I planned to get a dog that was pee-pad trained so I didn’t have to go out in the rain and snow.  I know my limitations and I didn’t want any 4-legged creature to suffer because it snowed or rained! However, due to allergies I needed a hypoallergenic dog and it took me a long time to find what I wanted, a Maltese. 

I was fortunate, and Cuddles, my Maltese male puppy, is my new addition. He is adorable, a real joy, and loved by so many. It is a real pleasure to call him my buddy. His motto in life is to love and be loved, and every day we go out looking for people to love. One thing about being a dog owner: suddenly you notice so many other people with dogs, and you quickly have new friends in your life. Cuddles is also a living being and I can’t imagine making any decisions that could cause him pain or to die, if it can be helped. Yet, people who say they love their animals risk their dog’s life every day.   

84 percent of animal lovers allow their pets to ride in a motor vehicle unrestrained

It boggles my mind when I see pets riding in cars, completely unrestrained.  We certainly don’t allow our children to travel without wearing a seat belt. They are buckled in their seats for a reason. Why, in heaven’s name, do we allow our BELOVED animal companions to risk their lives, as well as the lives of ourselves and others on the road, by riding in the car unrestrained? Yet, we do, according to a Kurgo and AAA survey of people who frequently drive with their pets. 

What is worse is that these supposed animal lovers even admitted to other gross misdeeds while driving such as:

  • Playing with their animals 
  • Feeding them treats 
  • Carrying them on their laps 
  • Petting them 

And last but not least, they even admitted to taking their dog’s picture while they were riding in the car. (Perhaps for their obituary after they crash from such dangerous behavior?)

An estimated 100,000 dogs die from riding in truck beds alone each year

Dogs love to hang out the window with the wind blowing in their face, all the while potentially causing major ear trauma, not to mention the possibility of a quick exit out the window during sudden braking or while turning a curve.  Even more frightening is the animal that gets thrown through the car after a sudden stop, or the one who gets underfoot, preventing braking. It is illegal in some states and municipalities to allow pets to ride in the back of trucks (it should be illegal in all) and perhaps we should consider similar pet safety legislation.

What has happened to common sense? Pets should be able to trust their owners to protect them from harm.  That is why We Save Lives, the American, American Veterinary Medical Association, and others strongly urge pet owners to restrain their furry friends in a travel crate, or a short and secure animal safety belt to keep them from strangling to death in the back seat or cargo area of the car. If placed in the front seat they can be killed by the airbag or could be crushed between your body and the airbag in a collision.”  Our dogs deserve the best and that means making wise pet safety decisions that will ensure their safety at all times, especially when traveling. Don’t you think they are worth it?  


Candace Lightner

Founder, We Save Lives

Because We Care…

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