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Norwalk Daily Voice serves Norwalk & Rowayton

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Buckle up Your Pup

You would never think about putting your car in "drive" if one of your passengers didn't have on their seatbelt. But do the same rules apply to your dog? Thousands of pets are injured in car accidents every year. Clearly, like humans, animals need to be belted in for safety.

According to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration , pet travel in the United States has increased 300 percent since 2005. But in the 1.63 million traffic accidents reported in 2009, 775,800 of the drivers involved had pets in their cars at the time. Given that statistic, it's hard to believe that less than 85 percent of drivers who travel with their pets take the time to restrain them. As a point of reference, at a speed of only 35 mph, a 60-pound pet can become a 2,700-pound projectile in your car.

"Safety belts can only work if you use them," says self-proclaimed "Pet Safety Lady" Christina Selter. She is the founder of Bark Buckle UP , an online resource for pet safety, that informs pet owners of the dangers of unrestrained animals. Selter created the "Be Smart, Ride Safe" pledge, pushing people to commit to pet safety for the protection of the owner and their animals as well as first responders.

In her quest to promote pet safety, Selter has buckled more than 10,000 animals into vehicles; been featured on 1,200 national and local newscasts, international news conferences and automobile trade shows; delivered more than 4,000 pet oxygen masks through her Bark 10-4 program; and secured nearly 3,000 animals in life vests.

Surveys have revealed that pets help to lower blood pressure, reduce stress, prevent heart disease and fight depression. It's time to return the favor.

For more information on how to travel safely with your pet, go to Bark Buckle UP.

Do you restrain your pet while he or she is traveling with you – even if only to a nearby dog park? Let me know.

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