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Crash test doggies take a hit so real dogs don't have to

Posting in Technology

How safe is your “adventure box” for your dog? The same technology that tests vehicle safety systems for us are finally being used for man’s best friend.

Subaru and the Center for Pet Safety (CPS) converged on a federally approved vehicle occupant testing lab to see how well some of the most popular pet restraints hold dogs during a crash. The short answer? Not well, Wired reports.

MGA Research Corporation’s lab conducts tests for the National Highway Transportation Safety Board. Seven harnesses were tested at the lab, using at least three plush test dogs: one representing a small 25-pound terrier mix, another for a medium 45-pound border collie, and one for a large 75-pound golden retriever.

Only one restraint ranked as a “top performer” in the CPS Harness Crashworthiness Study [pdf]. The Sleepypod ClickIt Utility was the only one that aced all the tests -- keeping the dogs in place, limiting their spinal movement, and controlling rotation.

The other six exhibited everything from stitching and hardware problems to what researchers called “catastrophic failure” -- failing in such a way that “it allows the test dog to become a full projectile or releases the test dog from the restraint.”

Watch these tests in the video below and here (prepare for some ruff landings), and please check out the epic gallery here and here.

large CPS crash test dog having a ruff day.jpg
Despite manufacturers’ claims of “testing,” “crash testing,” and “crash protection” on their websites or packaging, there are currently no standards or uniform testing procedures for pet travel products. That’s the bigger problem.

In order to lay some groundwork for a standard, the CPS looked to the Federal Motor Vehicle Safety Standard 213 that outlines how a child safety seat must perform during testing. That includes a dynamic test that mimics a 30 mph crash, with a sled that bursts into motion to see how the various restraints hold up to the force. It’s also the standard many of the companies making the dog restraint systems say they adhere to.

Subaru will start offering Sleepypod’s harness for purchase through its gear catalog and a dealers.

[Center for Pet Safety, Subaru via Wired]

Images: Center for Pet Safety

    

— By on October 9, 2013, 6:45 AM PST

Janet Fang

Contributing Editor

Janet Fang has written for Nature, Discover and the Point Reyes Light. She is currently a lab technician at Lamont-Doherty Earth Observatory. She holds degrees from the University of California, Berkeley and Columbia University. She is based in New York. Follow her on Twitter. Disclosure