For three years, Chloe’s car safety solution was a combination of the medium-sized Snoozer Lookout car booster seat (strapped to the car with the right rear safety belt) and a harness-and-belt that she wore while in it (clipped to the right rear “latch bar” of our car). I felt pretty good about that approach, right up to the day that I watched a series of videos filmed by the Center for Pet Safety, showing what happens to a crash-test dummy of a Boxer wearing a number of safety harnesses/tethers (makers unidentified) in a 50 mph crash.
I was so horrified by the videos that I immediately swapped Chloe’s harness and tether and Snoozer booster seat out in favor of the Pet Tube from PetEgo. It was not a popular move: Chloe missed seeing out the window, and my husband missed canoodling with her. A year later, though, I can report that Chloe travels comfortably in the Pet Tube, and my husband has stopped sulking.
More about the Pet Tube in a moment, but those of you who travel a lot with dogs (going to dog shows, for example) will be wondering why I didn’t choose the safest option of all, a crate like the classic PetMate Sky Kennel or the snazzy new 4Pets Dog Box, strapped to the car with a safety belt or tie-downs. If I were starting from scratch, with a new puppy, that’s what I’d do, but I felt like that would be too much of a change for Chloe’s comfort. She had grown accustomed to being able to see us, everything in the car, and a good chunk of the outside world from her booster seat, and from a crate she’d see none (well, much less, anyway) of those things. She was cranky enough in the Pet Tube for the first couple of weeks, and it at least lets her see easily around the car.
[1/28/14 It turns out that this entire next paragraph (and the picture, above) is wrong: In fact, per the video reader that Terri posted in a comment (see below), the Pet Tube is actually secured by fixing its two straps around the back seat. Please see my update post for more details. Now, mind you, the Pet Tube worked for us for over half a year as I’ve described below, and I don’t believe it’s unsafe used that way — and it certainly is easier to move from one car to another if the straps are merely hooked over the headrest. On the other hand, secured around the seat back, the Pet Tube doesn’t budge — and it can be installed even in cars without headrests.]
The Pet Tube turns out to be a good choice. It took me awhile to figure out how it works best — initially, I left the straps long, and pulled the right rear seatbelt across them to keep the tube pinned closer to the seat, but a few months ago I realized that if I dramatically shortened the PetTube’s hanging straps instead, there was no need for the safety belt. In an accident, if the hanging straps were cinched short enough, the Pet Tube would swing up and forward without hitting the passenger seat in front of Chloe.
Here’s what I like about the PetTube: It has excellent ventilation and visibility. Both ends zip open, so when the tube is hanging from your car’s right rear headrest, you can load your pup into it from the right rear door, and also reach into the tube from the driver’s seat. It can be collapsed into a thick pancake (18″ in diameter and about 3″ thick) and secured with a zipper, so it can go into a suitcase for those trips where you’ll be driving at your destination. Chloe likes the PetTube because she can change positions without getting tangled up in a harness strap (and no harness means that loading and unloading her is easier on us too). Although it’s an awkward shape for a carrier, I like the fact that you can attach a shoulder strap to it in a pinch — it doesn’t come with one, but if you have an extra, stow it in the car for emergencies.
Here’s what I’m less fond of: The “optional” comfort pillow really is a necessity, since it creates a firm, flat platform for your pup to lie on (we add a soft pad on top of that — neatly, the same size supplemental pad we use for Chloe’s large SturdiBag, the XS Pet Dreams Plush Sleep-Eez pad, also works in her PetTube). That’s not a calamity, but the pillow does take up a significant amount of suitcase room. The PetTube also requires a real headrest to hook around — on a couple of occasions, we’ve found ourselves in cars with only vestigial headrests on the back seats, and Chloe’s had to ride in the right front seat area (if this happens to you, be sure to disable the right front air bag).
On balance, I’m happy with the PetTube. A hard crate would be safer, there’s no doubt about it, but the features (and convenience) of the PetTube work well for us.