It's odd the collaborative online research conducted by and Bark-BuckleUP in its "Top Ten Pet-Safe Vehicles" rankings released on March 5, 2013, omitted an obvious contender. In my post, "Canines Motor Minis…Meet World's First Driving Dogs," I reported on the Auckland SPCA's successful program dedicated to teaching dogs how to drive cars. One would have to wonder if the British-made Mini Cooper Countryman was good enough for a dog to drive, why it wouldn't have made it to this TOP TEN list?

According to a CBS report, while there are many rankings to determine how safe cars are for drivers and their human passengers, they often leave their pets at risk.

“Not only are these vehicles safe for pets, but they also offer a certain measure of convenience for pet owners,” said Automotive Content Editor Warren Clarke. “And with each one of these vehicles starting at under $35,000, owners won’t have to chase their own tails to make ends meet.”

The top ten pet-safe vehicles selected by and Bark-BuckUP breaks down in alphabetical order, as such:

  •     Dodge Journey – Available features include an in-dash cooler that can be used to store beverages, medicine or pet food.
  •     Ford Flex – The crossover offers ample legroom and wide door openings for your pet’s easy ingress and egress.
  •     GMC Acadia – The Acadia’s tri-zone climate control helps monitor temperature in the rear of the vehicle, thus ensuring that pets secured in back aren’t exposed to extreme heat
  •     Hyundai Tucson – This Hyundai offers privacy glass that helps block the strong rays of the sun.
  •     Jeep Liberty – The Jeep brand offers specialized pet travel gear, including crates, carriers and a ramp.
  •     Kia Soul – The Soul comes standard with side curtain airbags that can keep both two-legged and four-legged passengers safe in the event of a collision.
  •     Mazda 5 – The Mazda 5 has tethers and anchors in both the second and third rows — helpful since pet safety seats need to be secured in the same way as a child’s seat.
  •     Mitsubishi Outlander – The SUV also boasts fold-flat seating and stow-able third-row seats – both of which increase the amount of room available for larger pets.
  •     Subaru Tribeca – Pet owners will appreciate the Tribeca’s five-star crash test scores, steering-wheel-mounted auxiliary controls and rear back-up camera.
  •     Volvo XC70 – The XC70 is available with a Volvo-designed pet barrier, created to remain intact during a collision.

According to, their research concurred that most drivers aren't taking the necessary precautionary steps  to ensure pet safety. Most animals ride unrestrained, increasing the risk of pet injury or fatalities during an accident.

If you have an accident at 35 mph while toting your 60-pound unrestrained dog, your pet is capable of causing an impact of up to 2,700 pounds, slamming into the seat, the windshield, or even a passenger. If your unrestrained pet survives the crash, "Fido or Fifi may impede or slow the progress of rescue workers, who'll need to secure the traumatized animal before treating human victims," noted the report.

Seems to me that if the Auckland SPCA deemed the Mini Cooper Countrymans safe for pets, particularly  since their dogs were put behind the wheel (no longer passengers), why the slight in not listing those cars in this TOP TEN? Perhaps it had something to due to the 'driving dog's  latest updates. When dog trainer Mark Vette was asked how his mixed-breed rescue dogs "Monty" and "Porter" performed in the driver's seat, he noted that while Monty handled "the straightway flawlessly --Porter, assigned to steer around a bend, ran off the road." Oh, well, I guess it's back to Drivers' Ed! Better luck next year, Porter and the Mini Cooper!