News / Vancouver

Vancouver dog owner urges others to use pet restraints after pooch killed in car crash

Elisha McCallum believes her dog Radar's death could have been prevented if she was strapped in a pet restraint.

Radar, a 12-year-old Jack Russell, was killed in a car crash on Wednesday. Her owner, Elisha McCallum, believes her death could have been prevented if she was secured using pet restraints.

Courtesy Elisha McCallum

Radar, a 12-year-old Jack Russell, was killed in a car crash on Wednesday. Her owner, Elisha McCallum, believes her death could have been prevented if she was secured using pet restraints.

A Vancouver dog owner is warning others to buckle up their pets when they get behind the wheel after her beloved Jack Russell was recently killed in a car crash.

Elisha McCallum said her dog Radar was sleeping on the front seat of a dog walker’s car on Wednesday when they were struck by another vehicle. The sudden impact sent the small dog’s body into the air where she was thrown against the dashboard.

“Radar’s neck was instantly broken and she passed away very quickly,” an emotional McCallum told Metro. “There was essentially no suffering, which gives me comfort. But with that being said, I firmly do believe that this was a preventable accident.”

Elisha McCallum is urging other dog owners to use pet restraints to keep their animals safe while behind the wheel.

Courtesy Elisha McCallum

Elisha McCallum is urging other dog owners to use pet restraints to keep their animals safe while behind the wheel.

When the dog walker, who survived the crash and is recovering, called her to tell her about the crash, McCallum said she struggled with a mix of emotions.

Although McCallum said she always placed Radar and her other Jack Russell, Detour, in crates that are secured to the vehicle when driving with her dogs, she said she doesn’t believe the dog walker used pet restraints.

“I’ll never know what happened in the vehicle because I wasn’t there,” she said. “But there was a lot of guilt on my side to understand whether or not I had made the right decision as an owner to make sure my walker understood the importance and value of safety in a vehicle.”

Radar, a 12-year-old Jack Russell, competed in agility sports. She was killed Wednesday in a car crash in Vancouver.

Courtesy Elisha McCallum

Radar, a 12-year-old Jack Russell, competed in agility sports. She was killed Wednesday in a car crash in Vancouver.

Pet restraints are safety harnesses similar to a seatbelt that can be secured around a dog or cat to keep them safe while in a vehicle. They are available in most pet stores and range in price from about $25 to $50.

Alternatively, many owners choose to place their pets in crates, which are then tethered to the inside of the vehicle, both to keep the animals from distracting the driver and to keep them safe in an emergency.

Although pet restraints are important for keeping animals safe in vehicles, Vancouver veterinarian Dr. Kathy Kramer, who looked after Radar, said they aren’t widely used.

Radar, a 12-year-old Jack Russell, was killed on Wednesday in a car crash in Vancouver.

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Radar, a 12-year-old Jack Russell, was killed on Wednesday in a car crash in Vancouver.

Kramer admitted that even she is guilty of not using a pet restraint for her own 13-year-old dog. Still, she urged pet owners to do their research and consider investing in a pet restraint with a strong safety record for their dog or cat.

“Nobody expects to get in an accident, but disaster can happen at any moment,” said Kramer. “If you do it for your kids— especially in this town where, for a lot of people, their pets are their kids— if they were aware of the consequences, I think they would start using pet restraints more.”

A tearful Kramer thanked the firefighters and paramedics that responded to the car crash and tried to save Radar’s life.

“There’s nothing they could have done,” she said, her voice shaking with emotion. “But the fact that they tried is really huge.”

Detour, left, and Radar, both Jack Russell-breed dogs, are shown in this Facebook photo. Owner Elisha McCallum says Detour is already missing his companion Radar, who was killed in a car crash on Wednesday.

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Detour, left, and Radar, both Jack Russell-breed dogs, are shown in this Facebook photo. Owner Elisha McCallum says Detour is already missing his companion Radar, who was killed in a car crash on Wednesday.

McCallum said Radar, who had a healthy appetite and was lovingly nicknamed “Pot Roast,” competed in dog agility sports and excelled in scent detection.

“Radar was very quirky and entertaining,” McCallum said. “She was a great little dog with a great personality and very much a big part of my husband and I’s lives for the last 12 and a half years.”

She said her other dog, Detour, is already missing Radar’s presence and searching for his companion, “which is hard to watch.”

McCallum urged other pet owners to always use restraints to keep their animals safe to avoid facing the same devastation.

While some dogs might not like to be restrained or placed in a crate, she encouraged people to train their pets using positive reinforcement to be comfortable in that setting.

“You will save yourself and your pets a lot of pain and heartache if you’re able to prevent an injury or a death from occurring,” she said. “If something good can come out of this, then I’m a firm believer in sharing experiences so that somebody else doesn’t have to have the suffering that we’ve gone through.”

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