To Crate...or...Not to Crate, the Decision is Yours

March, 2004

Barbara Foley

If you have been reading this column for any time, you already know that I am a staunch believer in crating all pets when traveling. Occasionally, I get "hate mail" from those who disagree with me. That goes with the territory, as the saying goes. Everyone has the right to make their own decision on the issue. My goal is to present the information in hopes that fewer pets will lose their lives in accidents.

A few of you may already know that in November 2003 I flipped my travel trailer and tow van. I was driving alone to a dog show. The pavement was slightly wet as it had just started to rain, and both vehicles began to slide on a curve. I've been pulling trailers for over 25 years, so I knew not to make a drastic turn to keep us on the pavement but my gradual attempts were fruitless. As I got that "sinking feeling," the trailer tire slipped off the pavement, and both vehicles flipped on their sides.

Luckily, I was not hurt. As soon as I recovered from my initial shock, my concern was for the eight dogs traveling with me. One was a small puppy, and several were clients' dogs also going to the show. All the dogs were silent, deadly silent; no one was screaming or anything. I was trapped by a food cooler which had been sitting in the passenger seat beside me. I was frantic to see if the dogs were okay, and the state trooper who extracted me was indeed my "knight in shining armor." I clamored back into the van to rescue the dogs. Imagine my relief when I saw each of them moving, though shaken, in their crates.

Each dog was confined to a wire crate, and all the crates were tied to each other with bungee cords. The bungee cords kept all the crates connected, kind of like one unit. Because the dogs were crated, they were protected from flying debris and they did not become missiles themselves. The puppy, being smaller, would surely have died had he been thrown about in the van. The dogs tumbled in their respective crates but they were unhurt. The rescue squad helped me extract each dog from the van. We examined them closely, and no one was hurt.

So, the decision is yours, of course. But your life can change literally in seconds. For you and your pet's safety, please crate them while traveling. I'm sure glad I did!

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