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Study Shows Many Pet Car Safety Restraints to be Unsafe

CHERRY HILL, N.J., Oct. 3, 2013 Subaru of America, Inc. and the Center for Pet Safety (CPS), announced today the results of a collaborative study to test the effectiveness of pet harnesses marketed with safety claims. Sleepypod’s Clickit Utility Harness has been identified as the 2013 Top Performing Harness. The pet harness study was designed by CPS – a registered 501(c)(3) non-profit research and advocacy organization dedicated to companion animal and consumer safety – to mirror the same crash tests used to measure the effectiveness of child safety products. The crash tests uncovered serious flaws in many of the popular pet restraints currently on the market, with many resulting in catastrophic failure. The goal of this study is to enforce the importance of driving safely with pets. In addition, the performance data will assist in the development of the first harness safety standard and test protocols that will serve as guidelines to the pet products industry.

Subaru and the Center for Pet Safety conducted a collaborative crash test study to test the effectiveness of pet harnesses marketed with safety claims. The tests were run by MGA Research Corporation.

There are currently no performance standards or test protocols in the U.S. for pet travel products. While many pet car restraint manufacturers claim to test their products, without uniform test standards and protocols, these claims cannot be substantiated. Recognizing the severity of this issue, Subaru teamed up with CPS to conduct this study in order to ultimately allow consumers to select independently tested pet products and help them to identify top performing brands. The Center for Pet Safety is actively working toward publishing a harness standard later this year.

“Safety for all passengers, including our pets, is very important to Subaru and to our drivers. Selecting the wrong harness could be just as detrimental as not using one at all,” said Michael McHale, director of communications at Subaru of America, Inc. “Most pet owners don’t know the dangers of not properly harnessing their pet while in the car. With nearly half of Subaru drivers also being dog owners, we want them to be as informed as possible.”

Subaru and CPS enlisted MGA Research Corporation, an independent National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) contracted testing laboratory, to conduct rigorous crash testing on commonly available pet safety harnesses using realistic, specially designed crash test dogs. Testing was performed using multiple, specially designed crash test dogs developed by CPS, including a 25 lb. terrier mix, a 45 lb. border collie and a 75 lb. golden retriever. The life-like dog models provided a realistic representation for testing purposes, similar to the testing conducted for human occupant safety.

“Subaru and CPS share a common love for pets and safety, and it is our mission to communicate to pet owners that an effective harness should keep the pet in place to prevent distraction to the driver as well as offer measurable levels of protection to all passengers in the event of a crash,” said Lindsey Wolko, founder and CEO of the Center for Pet Safety. “I, like many people, consider my dog to be a part of my family, and dogs need to be secured with harnesses that have been tested for safety the same way car seats and seat belts that protect our family members have been tested, both for the pet’s safety as well as the safety of all passengers.”

The overall results of the testing indicated Sleepypod’s Clickit Utility Harness as the clear top performing harness brand, as it was the only harness tested to consistently keep a dog from launching off of the seat and the only restraint deemed to offer substantial protection to all passengers, including the dog, in the event of an accident. If a pet launches off of the seat, it can strike a human passenger or risk serious contact injury to the dog from internal structures in the car.

“Sleepypod has been researching and crash testing pet safety restraints in autos for six years because we’re serious about safety,” said Michael Leung, Sleepypod co-founder and product designer. “We admire CPS and Subaru for conducting this study on behalf of pet owners and use the CPS testing protocols as an extension of our own safety program.”

Pet owners may purchase Sleepypod’s Clickit Utility Harness on www.sleepypod.com. Subaru will also be offering these harnesses for purchase through its Subaru Gear catalog and at dealers in the near future.

All manufacturers whose products graduated to crash testing in the study were issued courtesy invitations to attend product testing. Those companies that were unable to attend were contacted with their test results, and several companies are already working to make improvements and enhance quality control. To view the full study results please visit www.CenterforPetSafety.org. More information about how to keep pets safe in vehicles can also be found on www.Subaru.com.

MGA Research Corp. staff preps a crash test dog for testing.

The Center for Pet Safety is not affiliated with the pet product industry. The organization uses scientific testing and references Federal Motor Vehicle Safety Standards to study pet products and establish criteria and test protocols to measure whether pet safety products provide the protection claimed by advocates and intended by the manufacturer.

About Subaru of America, Inc.
Subaru of America, Inc. is a wholly owned subsidiary of Fuji Heavy Industries Ltd. of Japan. Headquartered in Cherry Hill, N.J., the company markets and distributes Subaru vehicles, parts and accessories through a network of more than 600 dealers across the United States. All Subaru products are manufactured in zero-landfill production plants and Subaru of Indiana Automotive Inc. is the only U.S. automobile production plant to be designated a backyard wildlife habitat by the National Wildlife Federation. For additional information visit www.subaru.com.

About the Center for Pet Safety
The Center for Pet Safety (CPS) is a 501(c)(3) non-profit research and advocacy organization dedicated to consumer and companion animal safety. Based in the Washington, D.C. Metropolitan area, the Center for Pet Safety’s mission is to have an enduring, positive impact on the survivability, health, safety and well-being of companion animals and the consumer through scientific research and product testing. For additional information visit www.CenterforPetSafety.org.

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