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Tue, Oct. 15

Take them with you, but do it safely

Not a good idea: if you put him in the pickup bed, place him in a kennel secured to the vehicle.

Not a good idea: if you put him in the pickup bed, place him in a kennel secured to the vehicle.

I happened to be listening to the police scanner the other day, and heard 18-year PV Animal Control officer Robin Petrovsky calling in to say that she was out with a dog that had jumped out of the back of someone's vehicle. The dog was yelping, and Robin was cautioning the lady to be careful, because an injured dog can bite.

That tale had a happy ending - the owner of the dog was driving in her SUV, and her dog had leaped from a back window that was open too far. She was headed for the vet, and you can bet she'll be watching her windows more carefully. Robin said the dog possibly had an injured leg, but appeared OK otherwise.

This story could have been much worse, however, and that brings me to my subject, traveling safely with your pet.

My husband and I have a set of rules we follow when we travel with our dogs. First, each one is in a kennel, secured so it can't move around. In our van, that's side-by-side behind the back seats, because two airlines crates fit perfectly back there without moving. As each dog is kenneled, we place a leash in front of each crate door. In the case of an accident, we can get the dogs out quickly without having to waste time finding leashes. Then, when we arrive home, we take the dogs out before we do anything else, such as answer the phone or head for the washroom. This is to avoid, God forbid, forgetting them in the van. It's too easy to get sidetracked, as one now infamous police officer in Phoenix can testify. His dog died, and he paid with his career. If a trained K-9 officer can become sidetracked enough to forget his dog for 12 hours, what about us? It bears thinking about.

The same rules apply to traveling with cats, although the only time our "carpet otters" get in the car is to go to the vet. A carrier is a good idea with any pet. If your animal is secured in a kennel, they have a much better chance of survival in an accident than if they are hurled through your vehicle or escape when emergency personnel open your door. Accidents are terrifying for everyone, your pet included.

I have to mention one of my "pet" peeves here: dogs in the back of pickup trucks. I see it so often - a lovely, healthy, excited dog running in circles in the back of a pickup truck as the owner flies down the highway at speeds in excess of 60 mph. Your dog may be trained to stay in the truck, but our highways are dangerous today, and it doesn't even take an accident to turn a loose dog into a living missile. A quick stop or swerve could send your pet over the side and into traffic, causing another mishap as drivers swerve or crash to avoid it. If you have to carry the dog in the truck bed, buy a kennel and secure it to the bed. The ranch is one thing, Highway 69 or 89 is another.

And while I'm on the subject of pickups, why is it that folks often don't think about how hot the beds of those trucks can get in the summer. They've trained their dogs to stay in, but then they leave the animals in the hot sun to suffer until they return. Just to take that a little further, hot pavement is another danger. I once saw a man jerking his dog around at a car show because it was antsy and wouldn't sit or heel. It was because he was walking the dog on hot pavement in the summer and the dog was desperately trying to keep his feet from burning. Remember, your dog doesn't wear shoes like you do!

Have a travel bag ready and packed. We put poop bags, water bowls, an extra towel or paper towels, and treats in ours. I don't like to have collars on my dogs when they are kenneled, lest they catch the tags on the door, but have them in the vehicle and put them on when you take the dogs out. If they get lost, someone will be able to help them find their way home.

A final note: Do you have arrangements if you are sick or injured while traveling, so emergency personnel can notify someone to pick up and care for your pet? You should place that information in your registration packet, so in an emergency, you will at least know your "furkids" will be cared for.

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