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Keeping Them Safe

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Pet safety is a hot topic, particularly when it comes to pet travel, emergency preparedness and the outdoors.

Customers prove their concern for safety with their purchasing habits, too.

Steve Briggs, Jr., is the marketing manager at Allie’s, a pet food and supply store located in North Kingstown, Rhode Island.

He said his customers specifically ask for a couple of categories of safety products regularly: car harnesses, LED collars and leads.

In addition to water safety, these are the trendiest areas when it comes to customers’ purchasing habits of safety products.

“The most common products sought are harnesses for dogs in the car to keep them safe,” Briggs said. “Many feel it’s necessary to harness their dog to the seatbelt in the car due to the risk of getting into an accident with a loose pet.”

This is particularly important in Rhode Island, which has a bill that doesn’t allow pets to be in the driver’s lap while driving.  Hawaii and New Jersey have similar laws, and other states are considering legislation. Drivers in Arizona, Connecticut and Maine can be ticketed as distracted drivers for having a pet on their lap.

As these laws become more common, consumers will need to find ways to contain their pets, and car harnesses and tethers are a natural product to stock to meet this demand.

Road Safety

One option that customers might be interested in is a pet carrier with a built-in restraint.

For example, Sherpa Pet Group, a part of Quaker Pet Group, equips their entire line of pet carriers with an Auto Safe Strap, which complies with auto-safe legislation for properly secured pets in moving vehicles.

This is an appealing option for pet owners with smaller dogs because the carriers can easily be transported in and out of their vehicle.

According to Briggs, Allie’s carries a popular option, the Solv-it Vehicle Pet Harness. He said that they are popular during the summer because families are traveling by car.

“What’s great about these harnesses is the sizes they offer, small, medium, large, and extra large, and the added safety features of a padded vest that integrates into the seatbelt to provide range of motion but also a lock mechanism when the car suddenly stops,” Briggs said.

Another popular type of safety harness is one that increases mobility in senior or disabled pets. For senior pets, or pets with any type of joint or ligament issue, strained mobility can become a daily hazard.

Silver Tails offers the Bottoms Up Harness, which provides hind support for daily walks or help up stairs, or for getting in and out of the car. Its patented design allows for comfortable “always-on” wear and does not inhibit elimination.

Ruffwear also manufactures harnesses that are rugged enough to withstand travel but have convenient built-in handles that pet owners can use to lift their dogs into a vehicle, up stairs or along uneven terrain. The brand’s Web Master Harness is a popular selection because its webbing keeps dogs comfortable even during long periods of wear.

Light It Up

“Other items customers look for are light up collars and collars that have strobe lights attached to them,” Briggs explained. “Walking the dog at night or early morning is becoming a more common occurrence, and dog owners want to make sure that others are aware when they are walking on the street or in the park.”

His customers are fans of Safety Glo Collars.

“They are solar and USB powered, and many customers love that aspect about them,” he said. “To charge the collar or lead, it requires eight hours of direct sunlight for a solar charge or three hours for a full USB charge. This provides two-and-a-half hours of continuous use, which means you can go for long walks.”

The Safety Glo collars also give customers the option of a constant or flashing light.

Sportdog, a hunting and tracking gear manufacturer, produces a Locator Beacon. This fits onto a standard collar or attaches to a D-ring with an included carabineer clip, and provides either a constant or a flashing light.

“Walking your dog at night in the warm weather is nice, and having the extra reassurance of a lit up dog collar or lead makes it that much better,” Briggs said.

Though its popularity varies by both geography and season, customers in the right market are also concerned with water safety and seek out products that meet their needs.

For retailers in areas with pet-friendly water activities, stocking a range of products to meet customers’ varied needs can boost business. For the boating crowd, for example, life jackets are popular options.
“Water safety products for pets are in high demand as Rhode Island has many beaches and ponds,” Briggs said. “Customers are always asking for floats, water harnesses, and other products that help keep pets safer around pools, ponds and beaches.”

Outward Hound offers a number of  lifejackets in a variety of colors and sizes, as does Ruffwear.

- Maggie Marton

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