Pet car harnesses tested by Center for Pet Safety

There are dozens of pet harnesses in the stores and several manufacturers market their products as being "crash tested." But ABC7 found out that many of them are not telling you the whole truth - like the fact that their product actually failed the crash test.

The Center for Pet Safety in Reston is using new technology to put pet harnesses to the test. It uses a specially designed stuffed animal with sensors.

In simulated crashes at 30 miles an hour, there was a 100 percent failure rate of tested products, even though several of the manufacturers advertised them as being "crash tested".

"We had one the other day we tested. It says it tested to 2,000 pounds," said Lindsey Wilco, Center for Pet Safety Founder. "But when you actually take the harness and look at it, there's a metal carabiner that says it's tested to 2,000 pounds. The rest of it failed miserably."

Wilco says manufacturers get away with the false labeling because there is no oversight of the industry.

Dr. Sherman Canapp, a veterinary orthopedic surgeon has operated on many dogs injured in car crashes. He says unrestrained dogs can fly forward into the dashboard, causing broken bones. He also says that even though pet harnesses are not yet what they should be, they're still better than nothing.

"Owners really should be buckling in their dogs just like they buckle in their children," said Dr. Canapp.

Before you buy a safety harness, make sure you check the manufacturer's website and look for the full crash test video to make sure it actually passed the test.

Right now the Center for Pet Safety is doing a new round of tests on the latest harnesses to hit the market. ABC7 will keep you posted on the results which should be out this summer.

To see the full report, plus video of the testing, click here.

Here are some suggestions for traveling with your pet:

• You should never allow your pet to ride in the front seat or on your lap. Not only is it distracting but when airbags deploy they can seriously injure or kill your dog.

• The safest restraint system is a crate with padded sides that is attached to a seat belt or secured to a D-ring.

• Feed your pet a light meal a few hours before your trip to reduce the chances of car sickness.

• Plan ahead. Pack things you may need in advance, especially for long road trips. Including; a bowl, leash, waste bags, any medication your pet may need, a pet first aid kit and necessary travel papers (some states require rabies vaccination records).

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{ }• Only give your pet bottled water; introducing water from a new source could upset their stomach.