TODAY   |  October 15, 2012

Do dog seatbelts keep your pet safer?

A proposed law in New Jersey that would require dog owners to secure their dogs with seatbelts has been causing controversy, but a new study shows that dog seatbelts may not provide any extra protection and may even injure the dog. NBC’s Mara Schiavocampo reports.

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This content comes from Closed Captioning that was broadcast along with this program.

>>> a followup to a story we first brought you two weeks ago. dog owners who restrain their pets when driving. it's a bill that's being met with mixed reaction. nbc's mara schiavocampo is live there with more this morning. mara, good morning.

>> reporter: savannah, good morning. as you mentioned, we got a huge response from this story. now one organization says they have tested some of these dog harnesses and found shocking results. pet harnesses, seat belts for dogs, designed to keep our best friends safe while we chauffeur them around. there are dozens of dog safety products on the market. lawmakers in new jersey are even considering a bill to require a car restraint for rover.

>> reporter: people tend to treat their animals and their pets like members of their family. why don't they treat them like that when they are in the car.

>> reporter: while harnesses may give peat owners peace of mind , a new study suggests they may not offer much actual protection.

>> it was just astounding what we saw.

>> reporter: lindsay founded the center for pet safety in 2011 after getting into a car accident while traveling with her dog. the harness failed, and maggie suffered spinal injuries . so she decided to test four of the strongest dog harnesses on the market, applying the same federal motor vehicle safety standards for testing child seats. using a 55 test dog she and her team simulated a 30-mile-per-hour collision. the result, every single harness fail failed. in the first test the harness held up but provided too much slack. the dummy dog rocketed forward, crashing into the back of the test bench . the results would get far worse. in two of the tests the harnesses snapped completely, sending the test dog flying through the air totally unprotect unprotected, becoming a dangerous projectile. it's estimated that in a crash at 30 miles per hour a tiny ten-pound dog will exert 300 pounds of pressure. and in the fourth test a devastating result. the harness slid up to the test dog's neck upon impact.

>> i don't think that there's any doubt that those dogs would have been severely injured if not fatally injured.

>> reporter: she doesn't identify the manufacturers in the test because she says they are not doing anything wrong. there are no existing safety standards in place for dog harnesses, something the center for pet safety is working to change so that road trips are safer for all passengers, including the four-legged ones.

>> my dog was injured by one of these products, and i felt that this was inexcusable. this should not happen. the pets that we love, they need real protection.

>> reporter: the american pet product association represents those dog harness manufacturers, and in response to the findings they released a statement saying there are an increasing number of reported accidents where a pet distracting the driver is being cited as the cause. a pet restraint that merely limits pet's access to distraction and the driver and limits its motion in the event of an accident is s still an improvement over no restraint. savannah?

>> esschiavocampo in chicago, thanks so much.