Toronto Veterinarians - Pet Wellness Network

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Contact Willowdale Animal Hospital

Open 24 Hours, Year Round

256 Sheppard Ave. West
Toronto, ON M2N 1N3
(416) 222-5409

I want to tell you about 3 recent incidents that illustrate the concern regarding animals travelling in our cars.   In December, I was called by a distraught client’s family.  Their sister Louise was driving her car and was hit by a transport truck .  Louise herself was injured and in hospital.  At the time she had 4 dogs in the car.  Chico, a gorgeous Springer Spaniel, severed his spine on impact.  Tessa, a very gentle Italian Greyhound, escaped the car but was later found dead, apparently hit by a car.  Bud and Macho, both feisty terriers, survived the impact, with some minor bruising and abrasions.  I drove up to the township of Sharon to visit Louise in hospital and Chico in the local vet clinic.  Chico spent a few hours at my house sedated with heavy pain medications before Louise was released from hospital.  The whole family gathered around and we all spent time with Chico before we humanely euthanised him. Louise had buckled in Bud and Macho with dog safety belts as they were the most active and she wanted to secure them.  They survived.  Chico and Tessa were less active and didn’t have safety belts (who would have predicted that fateful night?).  Unfortunately they did not survive. To be honest, pet safety belts are not regulated (like most things in the pet industry) and there is no testing yet to show that their use increases safety of our loved ones.  However, it makes sense that they would decrease injuries in minor collisions and sudden stops.  They should prevent dogs from being projected forward and causing injury to themselves. They also restrain our dogs and stop them from interfering with our safe use of our vehicle.  In Louise’s animals’ case, they saved 2 animals in a very serious accident. See the pictures below. Use common sense when buying one of these products. Apparently there are zip lines that you can setup in your back seat. Any product that allows movement of an animal will not protect your animal.  Consider the purchase of a safety belt that is connected to a harness.  More importantly, if your pets do not need to come with you on your car trips then leave them home. With cats, ensure that they are crated.  Yesterday a client told me that he was  travelling to his country property.  On the way there he had car issues and had to call a tow truck. As he opened the door of his car, one of his cats escaped.  They were not able to find the cat.  Richard realized that the outcome would likely be poor. However, luck was on their side when the tow truck driver brought his Weimeraner back to the isolated area and took him straight to the cat. This story has a better outcome but it illustrates that cats should be confined. I can also tell you of stories where panicked owners call us with their cat stuck up the inside of the dashboard of their car. I can actually remember this happening to our cats when I was young. The third story is more graphic and my heart breaks for the owner (as it did with Louise).  A client, with a new dog, left their dog in a car for a brief period. They left the window open enough for some fresh air on a warm winter day.  The dog managed to get out of the window and unfortunately strangled himself with his attached leash.  The dog was brought in dead and the owner was devastated. Again, nobody would have predicted this. Most people will tell you they took the same actions as all of these owners and have never had poor outcomes. Nobody would ever blame these owners for the outcomes. But we can all learn from these incidents and make sure that we are extra vigilant about our animals when we travelling.   Take heed and drive safely — And that’s your Doctor’s Orders. Dr. Mark Dilworth Beaches Animal Hospital   Watch the Global TV Story about Pet Safety in Cars featuring our very own Dr. Dilworth.

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