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Buckle up! But wait, what does the law say about driving with pets?

September 12, 2019

Reading Time: 4 minutes

 

Our pets are part of the family and we love to take them with us wherever we go. Not only do we enjoy their company, but we also feel safe when they tag along for the journey. However, is it safe, or even legal, for humans and their pets to travel together? Read on to find out!

Before we get upset – let’s talk legal first. It’s not illegal to drive around with your pets, but it is of the utmost importance that the driver of the vehicle is not distracted by fellow passengers – irrespective of whether they are humans or animals!

“Animals tend to get upset and disorientated when travelling by car. Knowing how to cope with this is vital to their wellbeing – as well as your own!”, says Arrive Alive.

 

Here are some pet travelling guidelines by Arrive Alive:

 

Before travelling with your pet

 

  • We need to ask whether it is a good idea to take our pet on vacation with us – is it best for the animal as well or only best for us?
  • Early acclimation to car travel is the key. If your pet dislikes travelling by car, it might be worth taking him/her out for a few trips in the car before you set off to try to prepare him/her for the journey ahead.
  • If you will be going over international borders, make sure you have your pet’s proof of rabies vaccination and their current health certificate on hand.
  • Some animals shouldn’t travel at all. If your companion animal is very young or very old, sick, recovering from surgery, or pregnant, then leave her at home.
  • On the day that you leave, maintain your pet’s usual feeding routine. Anything out of the ordinary will probably make them feel more uneasy.
  • Keep favourite toys and food handy as animals tend to respond better when they are surrounded by familiar things.

 

Restraining the Pet

 

  • Net pet barriers can keep animals in the safe area of your vehicle and keep them from distracting the driver.
  • Truly pampered pets can ride in style in booster seats, right next to their owners.
  • These pet travel seats are supported from below, so your pet has a great view along with a comfortable ride. There are straps to secure your pet to the basket of the booster seat.
  • There are various sizes of padded pet vehicle safety harnesses that secure your pet to the vehicle’s seat belt system.
  • The safety harness keeps your pet from distracting the driver and keeps your pet secure in the event of a sudden stop.
  • If you are involved in a car accident, the restraining device will keep your companion animal from crashing into the front window or car seat.

 

The health of the travelling animal companion/pet

 

  • As soon as you know your companion is vacationing with you, see your veterinarian.
  • Have your vet check your pet’s general fitness and ability to travel.
  • Check with your vet that your pet has had fully up-to-date vaccinations.
  • Take along a jug of cold water in case other water sources are not available.
  • Stop every couple of hours to allow your pet to get some exercise. Remember to pack the lead!
  • Don’t let your pet put its head out of the car window in case grit and dust gets in its eyes. This can cause a nasty injury or infection.
  • Be sure to keep the windows closed, or open them slightly on a warm day.
  • Don’t leave your pet alone in the car if you can help it. The temperature can soar very quickly inside a locked car.
  • If you must leave your pet in a parked car, make sure you lock the doors and park in some shade.
  • Keep a first-aid kit containing bandages, gauze squares and antiseptic cream in the car. Anti-diarrhoea tablets are also useful. Ask your vet to recommend the best ones for your pet. You should keep the phone numbers of your vet and a 24-hour emergency vet hospital near where you are staying with the kit.
  • If you’ll be at your vacation spot more than just a few days, if possible, get a reference from your vet for another vet at your destination. When you get to your destination, find the veterinarian’s office on a map or ask around for directions.
  • Knowing where to go if problems arise will make it easier for everyone.

 

RULES OF THE ROAD WHEN TRAVELLING WITH PETS

 

 

According to the Road Safety Regulation 308, there are a few rules to which drivers and passengers should adhere to:

 

GENERAL DUTIES OF DRIVER OR PASSENGER OF VEHICLE ON PUBLIC ROAD

 

Reg 308.   (1)  No person driving or having a vehicle on a public road shall—

(c)   permit any person, animal or object to occupy any position in or on such vehicle which may prevent the driver thereof from exercising complete control over the movements of the vehicle or signalling his or her intention of stopping, slowing down or changing direction;

(j)    permit any person or animal to occupy the roof, any step or running board or any other place on top of a vehicle while such vehicle is in motion;

 

As loving pet parents, we cannot distance ourselves from the responsibility that comes with our furballs, especially when on the road. The most important thing to remember is to always put safety first and to take extra care not to endanger your life, the lives of our (pet and human) passengers and fellow road users. If Bella drools in distress every time you take her with you on a short drive, rather not let her tag along for the journey – especially if there are other, more convenient options available, such as your pet-loving friends/family members who would gladly volunteer as pet sitters. On the other hand, if your pet enjoys a road trip, grab their leash, buckle that booster, and let the wheels on the ‘bus’ (safely) go ‘round and ‘round. Anybody else in the mood for a ‘lekker’ road trip and some carpool karaoke?

Just before we drive off and get lost in the lyrics of don’t forget to cover your pocket, pet and car against unexpected emergencies that might try to pull the brakes on your fun! Luckily, this is the easiest part of your trip, because dotsure.co.za offers a wide variety of options for easy and affordable pet and car insurance. You can even quote and buy online right from your phone in minutes! So, there’s no need to move and shake without enjoying complete peace of mind. 😊

 

Safe travels!

 

 

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