Pet Product Safety Fails: What You Can Do

by Mary Haight on February 5, 2016

Pet product safety failI published a post on pet product safety fails and a podcast interview with Center for Pet Safety not long ago, so I was so happy to catch the NBC Today report on pet safety restraints for your car.

Unambiguous, substantive information was gathered by National Investigative Correspondent Jeff Rossen, alerting pet owners: Most pet travel safety restraints on the market failed to pass independent crash testing, even when packaging states otherwise.

Reporting began with a general nod to pet travel safety in vehicles, showing what can happen when dogs are allowed loose in the car, even two dogs falling out an open window onto a road with oncoming traffic.

Crash-testing videos from Center for Pet Safety gave viewers a good look at why pets should be properly restrained – hopefully with a product that actually works.

Pet product safety fails

While the American Pet Products Association (APPA) did acknowledge to NBC that safety restraints are a good idea, they had no comment on crash testing results. 25 of 29 products failed to keep dogs – and therefore passengers, and other people on the road – safe.

Why Pet Product Safety Fails Remain on Store Shelves

The violence of these tests – crates breaking apart, dogs flying through what would be the interior of a car at the test facility – is surprising given crash speed is a mere 30 mph. Dr. Flaura Winston of the Center for Injury Research and Prevention said that it’s important to secure any pets traveling in your car because they become projectiles, hurting [Ed. or killing] themselves and others.

As for consumer protections provided by government agencies, Consumer Product Safety Commission (CPSC) told NBC News that they have no jurisdiction over these products according to their mandate from Congress, suggesting NBC should check with the National Highway Safety Administration. The NHSA told NBC to check with the CPSC.

There’s a t-shirt with a finger-pointing I am reminded of…

Products that failed these independent crash tests continue to be sold to the largely unsuspecting public. What a gift it must be for manufacturers to have a “get out of lawsuits” free card. Pets and people die, are seriously injured, and no one pays for irresponsible manufacturing or false advertising claims. You and I go unrepresented, even though we are consumers.

pet product safety fails

Some manufacturers have expressed intent to correct defects according to Center for Pet Safety’s Lindsey Wolko, and are working on it – I have no doubt good brands are doing just that. We’ll see which brand gets certified next. And we’ll also see which do not.

I don’t think I’m going out on a limb when I say:

  • People with pets expect the items we buy for them to be safe
  • to do the job they were designed to do
  • to do no harm.

If you’d like to learn more, you can check out our recent podcasts and posts with Center for Pet Safety (CPS), and go to the CPS website. You’ll be glad you did.

Pet Safety First – What You Can Do

You may know how I hate to give you bad news with no recourse for taking action. Note the new banner in the sidebar for Center for Pet Safety. Big or small, you can send any size donation Paypal will allow. Care to contribute the price of a Starbuck’s? Please do! And if you have a site of your own and would like a banner, just let me know in the comments, via email, or check out the Center for Pet Safety site for more.

Pet parents can help keep Center for Pet Safety doing the job that needs to be done, exposing unsafe products. Government moves too slowly on, well, most things. Manufacturers – some will fix the problem, some will stall until they must act, and others may try an end-run around independent testing.

Without laws to hold pet products, all pet products, to a set of safety standards, I’m afraid significant change is not something all manufacturers are willing to offer. I hope I’m wrong.

Center for Pet Safety reminder: If you’ve had a bad experience with a pet product, report it! It’s so important to document instances of pet product failure. Here are instructions on how to do that.

If you’d like to help CPS test more products, helping you and your pets stay safe, be part of making change happen. You win, pets win, and, just as Consumer Reports has done successfully throughout the decades for consumer products, pet product manufacturers will be put on notice – no more pet product safety fails — pets deserve your best.

Now take a look at the video report.

(Image source: Center for Pet Safety)

49 comments
ThePlayfulKitty
ThePlayfulKitty

@dancingdogblog I totally agree that products that claim to keep a pet safe should have to prove that they live up to their marketing!

Ruth and Layla
Ruth and Layla

This is scary and that is why I am so hesitant to buy products in the pet stores including treats lately, 

CarolBryant
CarolBryant

I met Lindsey W at BlogPaws a few years back and loved talking to her and why she does what she does. We follow her advice and have a harness for Dex from this list.

MaryEHaight
MaryEHaight moderator

@CarolBryant Yes, I think it's great to have someone who has worked in the pet industry giving manufacturers an opportunity to see what results independent product testing yield. We also touched on her personal experience with safety equipment that failed to save her dog from harm in the first podcast. Clearly she is fully invested in her mission. Thanks for sharing your experience =) 

Latest blog post: Pet Product Safety Fail

Oz_theTerrier
Oz_theTerrier

I first saw some of the crash tests years ago when Sleepypod came out with their first ClickIt travel harness.  I remember thinking I needed something better for Oz to travel in the car with us because the crash tests results are downright scary.  I have both the original ClickIt harness and the newer ClickIt Sport - both are excellent and have passed the crash-tests with a 5-star rating.  I am so happy I have them and just wish that other car restraints would improve their reliability and safety as well.  Pets should be protected as much as adults and children are in the car.

MaryEHaight
MaryEHaight moderator

@Oz_theTerrier I agree, the crash tests are scary. No one should be fooled into thinking the harness they bought will keep their dog safe when it won't. Glad you've got Oz all set! Thanks for stopping by and sharing your story =)

Latest blog post: Pet Product Safety Fail

MarjorieDawson
MarjorieDawson

Obviously the pet products are focused on profit not pet safety. How shameful there is no redress.

Sweet Purrfections
Sweet Purrfections

I saw the episode on TV and the images were terrifying.  We as consumers expect theses products to be safe for our fur babies.

CathyArmato
CathyArmato

Excellent post, thank you Mary!  Consumers are starting to fight back to both pet food manufacturers and pet products, we are demanding the same level of safety for our fur kids as we do our human kids - and why shouldn't we??  Pets are family now, companies need to recognize that and produce products and services appropriately.  Thanks for doing all this research and sharing it with us!

Love & Biscuits,

Dogs Luv Us and We Luv Them

MaryEHaight
MaryEHaight moderator

@CathyArmato Thanks, Cathy! You've got it right -- pet product manufacturers, whether it be of food, toys, clothes, or pet gear, have to step up and create quality products. Consumers are not as naive as we once were, and we'll just keep talking to everyone about how dangerous this lack of legal recourse is, and in this instance, how cruel it is to put animals, their humans, and other drivers lives in danger. It should be required that third-party safety testing be done. Thanks for speaking up on this topic =)

Latest blog post: Pet product safety fail 2

FiveSibesMom
FiveSibesMom

Wow. Those photos of crash tests are horrifying. Thank you for sharing this information. We are huge believers in buckling up and safety first. I want to know that my product will indeed be safe. This awareness is so important. Thank you for writing about it.

MaryEHaight
MaryEHaight moderator

@FiveSibesMom The photos show clearly what horrors await dogs in a 30 mph crash when they are wearing inferior safety gear. I think they drive the point home too, Dorothy! Thanks so much for reading. I hope you tell all your friends =)

Latest blog post: Pet product safety fail 2

spencerthegoldendoodle
spencerthegoldendoodle

The Rossen report was eye opening! With a big trip to Arizona this summer to BlogPaws conference I need to look into a better seat belt. 

Sadie_and_Co
Sadie_and_Co

UUUUGH!  Those are some terrifying images.  Those are stuffed toys, but the reality is, it does happen!  Thank you for sharing this information.

MaryEHaight
MaryEHaight moderator

Terrifying describes the action in those photos well. Those specially constructed and designed test dogs tell the tale of what happens in a 30 mph crash. What I see is "what if that was my dog". I shudder.

Thanks for reading!

Latest blog post: Pet product safety fail 2

ThePlayfulKitty
ThePlayfulKitty

I couldn't agree more. If a product is going to claim that it can keep your pets safe, it should be required to actually do that. It isn't unreasonable to ask that devices made to transport our pets via car can handle a 30 mph crash. I would definitely pay a higher price for a safe, reliable product. 

-Purrs from your friends at www.PlayfulKitty.net

MaryEHaight
MaryEHaight moderator

Thanks Robin. This is the main concern I think we all have. Pet products should serve their purpose without harming pets or people =) Thanks for stopping by!

Latest blog post: Pet product safety fail 2

claycath
claycath

Are there any car seats that are safe for dogs?

MaryEHaight
MaryEHaight moderator

The short answer is no, not yet. We don’t know how long it will take manufacturers to get their act together on this, but if some news breaks, we'll cover it. Keep your eye on CenterforPetSafety.org for announcements and thanks for stopping by =)

Latest blog post: Pet product safety fail 2

dailydogtag
dailydogtag

It is very disturbing to me that these companies are intentionally misleading consumers.

MaryEHaight
MaryEHaight moderator

@dailydogtag Me too! I think intentionally misrepresenting your product is a flagrant abuse of trust and in some cases outright fraud. Those brands who leave their unsafe products on store shelves for sale should be ashamed. Consumer action, complaints, returning defective goods and demanding money back, is what will get their attention. Thanks for joining the conversation =)

Latest blog post: Pet product safety fail 2

mattiedog
mattiedog

We've read a lot of literature on this very topic - thanks for sharing, it's important information!

MaryEHaight
MaryEHaight moderator

I wish more people would write about it, keep the problem in the spotlight. I'm afraid the public mind is too full of the bad news of the day to notice this before their next trip to the pet store :/ Glad you're checking this out, and thanks for chiming in!

Latest blog post: Pet product safety fail 2

christycaplan
christycaplan

This is really scary - all three of our dogs ride in their crates, even to the park -a short distance from our house! I'm happy to see the CPS doing such important work - I'll look for updates on products I can look at. 

MaryEHaight
MaryEHaight moderator

@christycaplan It is scary, and we as consumers (or petsumers as some would say!) shouldn't have to feel that way after paying what amounts to a lot of money for crates, car seats, carriers, and seat belts that won't keep our pets safe at all. Thanks for being aware =)

Latest blog post: Pet product safety fail 2

ChroniclesCardi
ChroniclesCardi

I was disturbed when I read your previous post/listened to the podcast, and I still am. Glad the national news got in on the action, and that at least a few manufacturers seem to want to get in compliance. It's the least they could do, right? (sarcasm) I will not buy anything but Sleepy Pod for car safety now. I hope they stay in business a long time!

MaryEHaight
MaryEHaight moderator

@ChroniclesCardi I know, Elizabeth -- it's really hard not to get cynical about these things, and while I never want to lump good, even great brands in with those who are...not so much...there seems to be too much room for error in the pet product industry as whole. Self regulation simply doesn't hold up over time. It just doesn't. So independent testing is a must and products should get that done and proudly display it on their packaging. Because they actually *did* third-party testing for each size of their product. Not because some marketing person thought if one size passed a test, no need to spend to test all other sizes (!!) offered, if the principle is the same, they should all work, right? (sarcasm) 

Pet Ego also had a lovely carrier pass the test -- their ISOFIX Latch Connection. I've not heard of them until this testing or purchased from them before, but they are Italian designs and I need to remind myself that they should be heaped with praise too! Thanks for your thoughts, Elizabeth!

Latest blog post: Pet product safety fail 2

mk_clinton
mk_clinton

It is such a shame that companies aren't held to higher safety standards. There are so many restraints being sold and people are putting 100% trust in them. SMH

MaryEHaight
MaryEHaight moderator

@mk_clinton It is shameful and negligent that pet products are not held to higher standards. At least we now *have* some standards, so I thank CPS for that! Thanks for stopping by =)

Latest blog post: Pet product safety fail 2

ZoePheeDogs
ZoePheeDogs

I knew that there were a lot of products on the market that failed the safety tests but I had no idea you could actually report the fail! It's pretty scary that they are being allowed to continue to have these products out there! Thank you for sharing!

MaryEHaight
MaryEHaight moderator

@ZoePheeDogs Oh, hey, that's great that you now know you can report the fail! Love that, and thanks for telling me. We spend sooo much money on these products it's only right to report fails to the mfg and through CPS.
 

Latest blog post: Pet product safety fail 2

mileydailyscoop
mileydailyscoop

Wow! How frightening that this could actually happen in a crash! 

MaryEHaight
MaryEHaight moderator

@mileydailyscoop Something most of us don't think about when we bring our pets along...you'd be shocked at the force a 30 lb dog becomes as a projectile inside your car. Thanks for stopping by, Miley =)

Latest blog post: Pet seat belt safety fail

ValSilver
ValSilver

Those photos show quite a frightening picture of what could happen in a crash. Yikes!

MaryEHaight
MaryEHaight moderator

@ValSilver It's unreal how those safety buckles just snapped in a 30 mph crash test. Good to keep that in mind with all products we buy...is it plastic, is it well-made and strong at all the seams, is it steel? If it's a cheap price, it's likely a cheap product might be one way to go, but then, look at the the booster seats...$70 for a product that won't protect your dog! I agree, Val, those photos drive it home. Thanks for chiming in =)

Latest blog post: Pet seat belt safety fail

kittycatchronicles
kittycatchronicles

It's ridiculous that there isn't more accountability for these companies and products who claim to be "safe." I checked the CPS website and was happy to see that the Sleepypod carrier that we have has proven to hold up in car accidents. Thank you for helping to spread the word about this issue 

MaryEHaight
MaryEHaight moderator

@kittycatchronicles The accountability gap is a real problem. I'm glad you hopped over to the CPS site, it's very informative. And I love Sleepypod -- so pleased to see a brand hop to it to get their product certified. I, and many other dog lovers, won't forget that. Thanks for stopping by =)

Latest blog post: Pet seat belt safety fail

tenaciouslittleterrier
tenaciouslittleterrier

We have a Sleepypod that I bought specifically because of the test results. I hope some manufacturer comes up with a crash-tested, safe car seat. I think Mr. N would prefer that.

MaryEHaight
MaryEHaight moderator

@tenaciouslittleterrier Just make sure the product is independently tested -- for real :) Mr N is pretty small, isn't he? I think Sleepypod recommended all dogs under 16 lbs be in carriers on the floor of the back seat. Maybe that will change, but for now, Tashi doesn't like it either, but I'd rather he not get fractured/badly bruised. When you look at the force a 30 mph crash produces, that's a lot of pressure on a small dogs bones. And generally, depending on where you live and drive, the normal speed is higher than that, so the force is even greater. I worry about stuff like that and know you do too! Thanks for the visit!

Latest blog post: Pet seat belt safety fail

pawesomecats
pawesomecats

Pet safety is so important when travelling in the car - that's why I also seatbelt the cat carriers into the car so that they're even more secure. 

Previous post:

Next post: