Pooches 'pawing' over travel brochures with owners

Article date: 21 August 2009

  • But not enough consideration given to in-car safety 

Britain is a nation of animal lovers; owning eight million dogs*. An RAC survey** of 2,000 dog owners revealed that a third of owners are increasingly including their dogs in their holiday plans and contrary to the economic downturn, only 1 in 7 put this down to cutting kennel fees***.

35% of owners consider their dog as their ideal travel companion, with a further 10% saying their dog is more entertaining than their actual partner, their best friend or their children. Dogs were also deemed 50% more likely to entertain than the extended family!

The survey also found that over a third of owners are planning every aspect of their holidays around their dog with:

  • Almost half of these (47%) only considering dog-friendly accommodation
  • 44% choosing to stay in the UK
  • A fifth curtailing their time away
  • 1 in 5 only considering outdoor holidays such as camping

However owners often fail to give consideration to the in-car safety of their dog on a journey, so RAC has teamed up with Dogs Trust to urge holidaymakers to take care and strap-in their dogs when they go away this summer. 88% of Brits surveyed agreed that belting up during a journey is an important safety measure however unnervingly 60% have never used a dog harness/seat belt to keep their dog secure.

Head of RAC patrols and dog owner, Phil Ryan said, “It’s great that owners are involving their dogs in their holiday plans but rather than just ensuring the destination is dog-friendly, thought and care needs to be given to the journey. There is no legal requirement for owners to secure their pets when travelling, however this should be considered given that, at 30mph for example, an unrestrained 50lb border collie would be thrown forward with a force equivalent to almost nine 12 stone men**** and also considering the high regard that owners give their dogs – no longer ‘pets’ but ‘partners’.”

The Road Traffic Act 1988 states that “Dogs travelling in vehicles should not be a nuisance or in any way distract the driver during a journey”, but without further regulations in place this law is extremely hard to enforce. The Highway Code also advises that dogs are suitably restrained so they can’t injure you or themselves, if you stop quickly. To encourage safe travel for dogs RAC has teamed up with Dogs Trust to offer canine travel tips:

  1. Make sure your dog is secure and comfortable on a journey for their own safety and so they cannot distract you – they should be fitted with a correctly sized harness or within a travelling crate or container
  2. Allow your dog to become familiar with car journeys by ensuring they have positive experiences over a number of short trips before embarking on a long journey
  3. Plan your journey time and route carefully as - you'll need to stop at regular intervals to exercise your pet. To help plan your route visit www.rac.co.uk
  4. Travel first thing in the morning or later at night when it is cooler, and less busy
  5. Consider your pet with regards your destination. Busy environments, such as  bustling city centres or loud carnivals and public events are not always suitable for dogs, as they can get distressed
  6. Feed your pet no sooner than two hours before a long journey, to ensure that your pet does not have a full stomach when travelling
  7. Take a supply of your dogs usual food, in the event that you get stuck in traffic or have a breakdown
  8. Always take plenty of water and make frequent stops
  9. Keep the dog’s harness/lead close to hand in case you need to get out of the vehicle
  10. And remember; never leave an animal in a car on a warm/hot day - even for a few minutes. See www.dogstrust.org.uk for more information about dog friendly holidays.

Dogs Trust Chief Executive Clarissa Baldwin added: “The clunk-click seatbelt message is well known for humans, but sadly not always applied to our beloved pets. We know that more and more families are involving their dog in their holiday plans, including travelling outside the UK. Dogs Trust urges people to consider their pet’s travel needs at the same time that they are stocking up with sun cream and foreign currencies.”

Keeping your pet safe en route can cost less than £10 although 40% of those surveyed thought it would be more than three times that amount. RAC dog harnesses, which work with any normal seatbelt to keep your dog secure in the event of an accident, start from £7.99 and are available from RAC’s webshop, www.rac.co.uk. For a limited time they come with a free dog water bottle too.


Notes to editors
For more information and case studies please contact:
Vicki Burn / Erik Nelson, RAC press office
01603 684224 / 01603 682264 vicki.burn@aviva.co.uk / erik.nelson@aviva.co.uk

Shelley Doyle, Hill & Knowlton
0207 413 3734 / shelley.doyle@hillandknowlton.com   

Charlotte Speedy, Head of Communications Dogs Trust
0207 833 7705 / charlotte.speedy@dogstrust.org.uk

* According to the Pet Food Manufacturers’ Association’s annual report 2009

** Research was conducted on 2,000 British dog owners, by 72-point on 13 August 2009

*** According to www.boardingkennels.org kennel fees cost an average of £150 per week

**** According to RoSPA, ‘Carrying Pets Safely’ 2006

About RAC

  • With around seven million members, RAC is one of the UK's most progressive motoring organisations, providing services for both private and business motorists. Whether it's roadside assistance, insurance, vehicle inspections and checks, legal services or up-to-the-minute traffic and travel information - RAC is able to meet motorists' needs.
  • RAC is committed to providing the very highest levels of service to its members and has been ranked first for customer service by J.D. Power and Associates' UK Roadside Assistance Study for the last three years and the top named service organisation in the July 2009 UK Customer Satisfaction Index from the Institute of Customer Service.
  • Aviva bought RAC in May 2005. The acquisition brings together RAC's powerful brand and customer base with the expertise and leading position in motor insurance of Aviva UK Insurance (formerly Norwich Union Insurance). Aviva is the UK's largest insurer with a market share of around 15 per cent.
  • RAC is part of Aviva, the world's fifth largest insurance group which operates in 28 countries.
  • RAC's news releases and a selection of images are available from the internet press centre at www.racnews.co.uk.

About Dogs Trust

  • Dogs Trust is the UK’s largest dog welfare charity, and is dedicated to ensuring the welfare of dogs everywhere. Through its network of 17 Rehoming Centres across the UK, the charity cares for over 16,000 stray, unwanted and abandoned dogs each year.
  • As suggested by its famous slogan, “A Dog is for Life, Not Just for Christmas”, Dogs Trust is dedicated to promoting the message of responsible dog ownership. The charity invests in campaigns to reduce the number of stray, unwanted and abandoned dogs by promoting neutering, microchipping, and invests in education programmes to reach the dog owners of tomorrow.
  • Dogs Trust has a non-destruction policy, and will never put a healthy dog to sleep. The charity is working towards the day when all dogs can enjoy a happy life, free from the threat of unnecessary destruction. For more information please visit www.dogstrust.org.uk

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