BBC Autos

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Subaru, dog's best friend

About the author

Editor of BBC Autos, Matthew is a former editor at Automobile Magazine and the creator of the digital-only Roadtrip Magazine. His automotive and travel writing has appeared in such magazines as Wired, Popular Science, The Robb Report and Caribbean Travel + Life. He lives in Los Angeles with his wonderful wife and four-year-old daughter.

 

Crash-test doggies

(Subaru of America / Center for Pet Safety)

Subaru has a proud history of attracting canine-loving car-shoppers to its showrooms.

It's a relationship the Japanese automaker is keen to maintain – and not just by featuiring a load of Subaru-branded dog accessories in its gear catalogue. The first step in keeping a loyal customer and his loyal companion is to keep both safe on the road.

In a car wreck, a loose or poorly restrained pet can become, in effect, a missile – endangering itself and its human companions. And while there is no shortage of seatbelt-like pet harnesses on the market, there are currently no official performance standards for pet travel accessories, or protocols for testing manufacturer claims for these products. So Subaru of America teamed with the non-profit Center for Pet Safety to put a pack of harnesses to the test.

The study, the results of which were released on 3 October, tested the effectiveness of several pet harnesses – specifically those sold with lofty safety claims. The team enlisted an independent US National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) testing laboratory to subject a trio of doggie dummies – a 25lb terrier mix, a 45lb border collie and a 75lb golden retriever – to the same sort of crash-testing that human-replicating dummies endure in the assessment of child-safety equipment.

The results? Of the seven harness brands put through crash testing, only one – the Clickit Utility Harness from Sleepypod – met its safety claims. Notes the report: “The overall results of the testing indicated Sleepypod’s Clickit Utility Harness as the clear top performing harness brand, as it was the only harness tested to consistently keep a dog from launching off of the seat and the only restraint deemed to offer substantial protection to all passengers, including the dog, in the event of an accident.”

Naturally, Subaru has announced plans to include the Sleepypod harness in a future gear catalogue.

To have a look at the full study results, visit www.centerforpetsafety.org.