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Toyota's New 'Venza' is dog-friendly

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The “Big Three” automakers may be in the doghouse, but Japanese carmaker Toyota is betting that a canine-friendly car may entice some dog owners to buy a car with their pet in mind.

Car accessories for dogs, such as restraints and snap-in seatbelts, aren’t anything new. But Wade Hoyt, spokesman for Toyota, said the new Venza, a “crossover” model in the station wagon category, could be the first car designed with dog accessories in mind. According to Hoyt, the Toyota Associated Pet Products line will be the broadest line of pet products ever sold through car dealers. “We think that’s pretty much a first,” he said.

Prices have not been set for the restraints and other products, which will hit the market around Christmas, when the Venza is launched. Some of the products are designed to work with other Toyota models.

Pet-friendly features

The Venza, which starts at $25,975 with four cylinders, has a large cargo capacity and a rear hatch for easy entrance and loading of pets. Toyota will offer a pet ramp for easy entrance and exit, and a leash tether to secure pets in the vehicle. The Venza also features a large cargo-area pet barrier, which can convert the back of the car into a kennel on wheels.

Toyota’s line also includes pet seatbelts; rear seat zip harnesses; waterproof, removable hammock-style seat covers to fit Venza’s bench and bucket seats; and a pet booster seat with a harness.

"Venza is a vehicle designed to meet the needs of people with a fun and on-the-go lifestyle, especially active boomers," said Bob Zeinstra, national product marketing manager for Venza. "Many of these buyers look to their pets to fill the gap left by their kids. We wanted to make sure the Venza can accommodate this important family member and traveling companion."

The new car and product line emphasize the importance of keeping your pet safe and comfortable during car travel. The American Pet Products Manufacturing Association found in a recent survey that half of all dog owners consider their pet's comfort when buying a car. Zeinstra also noted that the American Automobile Association has found that unrestrained pets cause more than 30,000 accidents annually. As a result, some states are considering legislation to require pets to be restrained for their safety and to reduce driver distraction.

Credit: Reviewed by Susan E. Aiello, DVM, ELS and John A. Bukowski, DVM, MPH, PhD
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