Close on the heels of their 2015 pet carrier and crate study comes Subaru of America’s and the Center for Pet Safety’s 2015 Pet Travel Seat Pilot Study. Continuing a partnership that began in 2011, this study examines the crashworthiness of portable seats that elevate and contain dogs in cars. The products are popular with owners of smaller dogs.
This latest study is significant because it concludes a three-phase examination of pet travel products frequently promoted as providing safety for pets and human passengers in vehicles. In reality, they often don’t. Following the 2013 harness study, which designated only the Sleepypod Clickit Utility as a Top Performer in a test of seven harnesses, Subaru and CPS looked at pet carriers and crates. Completed earlier this year, that study found two carriers and one crate that met federal safety standards and were designated as Top Performers (CPS tests use federal criteria established for child-safety seats). The pet travel seat study was done in response to inquiries from consumers about the products’ safety.
Related: Tested: Clickit Sport Dog Harness
CPS crash-tested four pet travel seats with high sales volumes or claims of crash-testing: PupSaver, Snoozer Lookout I, PetSmart Top Paw Booster Seat and Kurgo SkyBox Booster Seat. Using 25- and 30-pound specially made test-dog dummies, CPS followed manufacturer instructions for securing them to the pet seat and the pet seat to the crash-test bench. The travel seats required dog attachment via harnesses or collars depending on the brand. None of the seats earned the CPS Top Performer designation, a program that CPS CEO Lindsey Wolko likens to the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety’s Top Safety Pick program. See videos of the crash tests here.
While the PupSaver remained attached to the test bench and the test dog stayed attached to the pet seat, a plastic buckle broke, releasing a strap; the seat and the dog rotated to their side. Additionally, PupSaver recommends placing the pet seat on a vehicle’s front seat, something CPS takes exception to. “This is not the safest location in the car for your pet, exposing them to a) airbag deployment, and b) occupant compartment intrusion in frontal crashes,” CPS said in its report.