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Making Sure That Fido Buckles Up When He Insists on Riding Shotgun

November 19, 1998|LYNN SIMROSS | SPECIAL TO THE TIMES

You buckle up, so why not your Fluffy or Fido?

Many of us travel with our pets, even if it's just to the vet. And given the size of the market--Americans own nearly 60 million cats and 53 million dogs, according to the American Veterinary Medical Assn.--pet product manufacturers have responded with roadworthy items designed for safety's sake as well as creature comfort.

Dogs spend more time on the road with their owners than do cats, according to the American Animal Hospital Assn., which found that 66% of dog owners travel with their animals and 48% of all pet owners take their animals with them on errands.

Here, we'll examine five animal-friendly auto products:

*

Pet Car Seat Lookout: Designed for small dogs that can't see out the car window without standing on the seat or, worse, on the driver, this booster seat keeps both animal and owner safe.

The seat, for pets that weigh as much as 18 pounds, is buckled in by the car's seat belt. The dog, sitting inside the wool-lined foam seat, is secured with a restraining strap that fastens around the lap seat belt and snaps to the animal's harness.

Norman O'Donnell, founder of pet products firm O'Donnell Industries in Greenville, S.C., designed the canine car seat for his own dog Dusty, a 10-year-old cockapoo. The seat can also double as a dog bed at home or on the road.

Barbara Brunnenmeyer of Oakland, an early aficionado of the Lookout, laments that her West Highland terrier Duffy has now outgrown his car seat: "I loved it when he was small. The seat was wonderful. He could see out and didn't jump around."

Pet Car Seat Lookout ($59.95) has a removable cover that is machine-washable and comes in black or paisley quilt.

* From O'Donnell Industries: (800) 635-9755.

*

Truck Tieout: This set of cables is ideal for securing your dog in the back of your pickup--and thus comply with the law in California and several other states.

Although the California Highway Patrol does not recommend what kind of product to use--whether homemade or store-bought--a spokesman confirmed that dogs must be tethered in the open bed of a truck. The only exception to the law is if the truck is a farm vehicle traveling in a rural area.

The Truck Tieout, from Cider Mill Farms Co. of Fitchburg, Mass., is made of galvanized steel aircraft cable that's stronger than rope or nylon. A vinyl coating prevents rust, and swivel snaps eliminate tangles. The main cable is designed to span the width of the pickup bed (you can install it through pre-drilled holes on the inside walls of most trucks) and connects, via a second cross-cable, to the dog's collar.

Truck Tieout ($24.99) comes in two sizes, for small- or large-bed pickups.

* Available at selected pet stores. Information: Cider Mill Farms, (978) 342-5840.

*

Pet Barrier: Dogs should stay put in the back of your minivan, station wagon or sport-utility vehicle with the use of this welded aluminum barrier, which adjusts in height and width and is held in place by suction cups for easy installation or removal.

Pet Barrier, made in Germany, comes in two sizes: a 48-inch, six-bar model for station wagons and small SUVs ($109.95); and a 63-inch, 10-bar model for minivans and large SUVs.

* Available from Beverly Hills Motoring (800) 367-2462 or on the Internet at http://www.bhma.com.

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Highway 1 contributor Lynn Simross can be reached via e-mail at highway1@latimes.com.

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