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Safe and Sound

Stacy Mantle//April 30, 2015//

Safe and Sound

Stacy Mantle //April 30, 2015//

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Not too long ago, the words “cat carrier” indicated a cardboard box. But now that the pet industry is a $65 billion behemoth and nearly 25 million Americans travel with their pets each year, carrier manufacturers have created new designs and safety features that make traveling with any pet much easier and much safer.

Safety First

A survey by AAA and Kurgo produced some startling statistics on dogs, driver distraction and the dangers involved. It was found that 65 percent of pet owners admit to petting or holding down their pet, reaching back, taking photos or engaging in otherwise distracted behaviors while driving. Considering a 10-pound unrestrained cat can generate upwards of 500 pounds of force in a 50 mph crash, it’s to the owner’s and the cat’s advantage for the pet to be restrained. The AAA Foundation for Traffic Safety found that looking away from the road for only two seconds doubles the risk of being in a collision.

Designers are going to extremes to ensure the safety of felines and canines alike, with safety guidelines being developed from those established for infants. Many manufacturers are even implementing crash testing guidelines to ensure the safety of their products.
Sleepypod is one such manufacturer.

“Our carriers have been crash tested at 30 mph and meet Sleepypod’s high standards for safety,” said Michael Leung, Sleepypod co-founder and lead product designer. “Our carriers are everyday pet beds designed to be used at home and on the go. When cats use Sleepypod beds/carriers at home, they become acclimated to the bed that transforms into a carrier. Since a pet is traveling in its own bed, travel is easier and less stressful. Also, the quality of the materials is the best in the industry. Sleepypod uses ballistic nylon for durability, tear-resistant mesh and ultra-plush bedding.”

When shopping for a cat carrier, Leung recommends that the consumer, “…first determine if the carrier will be used for road trips and/or air travel. They also need to know what size pet will fit in each model.”

Kurgo carriers are also fan favorites among pet-owning road warriors. Their Wander Carrier accommodates dogs and cats up to 18 pounds and features both top and side entries, which makes it easy to get even the most reluctant cat safely inside. This collapsible carrier is designed for easy storage and features a machine-washable interior pad for easy cleanup.

“As more and more states pass progressive legislation and/or legislation that makes it illegal for animals to ride in cars without being restrained to promote safety and well-being for the pets, plus the humans in the car [and] on the road, QPG is seeing an expansion into the types of travel and safety products pet owners are seeking and working hard to stay ahead of both the legislation and our consumers’ demands by offering innovative, convenient, high quality and affordable solutions,” said Cristen Underwood, QPG’s director of marketing.

New this year is the Sherpa Safety Suite, which helps make safe travel with your cat’s favorite carrier much easier. The Safety Suite attaches to a vehicle’s standard in-seat latch to keep pets and carriers securely in place while traveling inside the car. It offers five additional points of security through a system of adjustable straps that help ensure the stability of all sides of the carrier. The pet safety system is compatible with any brand of soft-sided pet carrier and has undergone safety testing.

Pets in the Air

“I believe pet parents often make the mistake of forcing their pet into a carrier that they might have purchased last minute,” said Penny Johnson, executive vice president of Sturdi Products, Inc. “This should be avoided since the animal is likely to associate the carrier with this trauma and will hide when it’s time to go next time. The owner has to find and force the pet in again [and] that reinforces the negative experience. Take your cat or dog for a car ride in the carrier without ending up at the vet! Remember to use a carrier with seat belt straps, like The SturdiBag.”

Consumers should also look for effective guaranteed programs, such as Sherpa’s Pet On Board program. As a leader in pet travel, Sherpa continues to grow their exclusive partnerships with all major airline carriers and the expansion of their proprietary Guaranteed on Board program. This program guarantees that should a passenger be denied boarding while traveling with a Sherpa carrier, Sherpa will refund the cost of the flight and pet travel fee.

Pets in Hotels

“We’ve designed the Carryin’ Cove to provide a combination hideout and scratcher for use in home, which allows the cat to become comfortable in the space so when it’s time to travel they are less stressed,” said Aimee Diskin, director of innovation and product development at Worldwise, Inc. “The replaceable double scratcher inside also provides surfaces to scratch out stress in transit.”

“Our carriers are designed completely around comfort,” said Dana Williams, Marketing Director of Bergan Pet Products, LLC. “Comfort for the pet and the owner. From superior ventilation, wide openings, fleece comfort pad, padded shoulder straps and multiple pockets, both the pet and owner are front and center in our design.”

No matter which type of carrier is selected, it’s important for retailers to educate themselves on the benefits of products they stock, as well as help the customer decide which type of carrier is best for their pets