Source: Toronto Sun (Extract)
Posted: July 04, 2023

A new Leger survey commissioned by Allstate Insurance Company of Canada says 47% of Canadians drive with pets loose in their vehicles, putting their fur babies at risk for injury.

Of those, 20% say their pets are left to move freely in the back seat and 6% even let their pets ride on their laps while they drive.

The survey also found 58% of Canadians are planning to go on a road trip with their pet this summer and 38% of respondents plan on taking their pets on a road trip of at least an hour while the weather is good.

“Many Canadians affectionately refer to themselves as pet parents, which is an example of how much they care about the furry members of the family,” says Gene Myles, agency manager at Allstate, in a statement.

“But what we are seeing in this survey tells a bit of a different story and illustrates how much room for improvement there is to keep all vehicle occupants — both two-and four-legged — safe from possible harm. Ensuring every person buckles their seatbelt is an incredibly important safety measure in a vehicle, and taking extra precautions for our beloved pets should be an extension of that commitment to safety.”

The survey also found that 25% of cat and dog parents travel with a pet in a moving vehicle at least once per week, 22% travel with their pet in a car a couple of times per month, 35% ride with their pet only once or twice per year and 18% never bring their animal in their car.

Toronto Traffic Services Police Const. Sean Shapiro says it’s not illegal in Ontario under the Highway Traffic Act to have a pet unrestrained in the back of a vehicle, but it is preferable.

“For their safety and yours, they should be tethered in the backseat or crated in the backseat,” said Shapiro. “Because we don’t want them to become a projectile in the event of a collision and even if they’re not injured from the collision itself, you may be trapped in the vehicle and your animal may be roaming about on the highway. And another thing about the front seat is that airbags could harm or in fact kill an animal.”

However, there are fines for having a fur baby in the front seat with you under the charges of Drive While Crowded ($110 and three demerit points) or Careless Driving ($490 and six demerit points).

“(Drive While Crowded) is the most obvious charge for driving with an animal on your lap or beside you and that’s a problem we see all the time,” said Shapiro.

“If (it) were to result in collision or we saw dramatic driving issues as a result of the animal being there, then (the) Careless Driving (charge) would likely be the appropriate.”

Leger conducted the web survey between May 12-15, among a sample of 1,559 Canadians, including 821 who own a cat or a dog, aged 18 and over.