A Safer Way To Travel With Your Dogs: Variocage
The Variocage is not for every pet owner, although I wish it were. It seems to be one of the safest car crates around, especially for medium to large to very large dogs. But you really need to dedicate your cargo compartment to the Variocage because it's not at all easy to take in and out.
Nevertheless, if you can devote your cargo area and, possibly, your folded-down back seat area, depending on the size of your car, to the Variocage, it seems like the optimal dog transport crate. Certainly, if you travel a lot with your dog - to competitions, shows, hunting, or even regular visits to the dog park - you should consider the Variocage.
It's built differently than other dog crates. The Variocage is made of stainless steel - no plastic, except for the bumpers on the corners - but what else is different? The Variocage is made with telescoping poles and 'crimple zones.' Crimple zones are areas around the crate - in the front, back, sides, and top of the crate - that absorb the impact of a crash so that the central area of the crate is protected.
The doors of the Variocage are latched tightly, but they can also be locked to protect your precious pets from theft while you get them some fresh air. And, while we're on the doors, if you are in a rear-end collision and the cage doors are crimpled, there are escape doors in the front (seat-facing) of the cage.
The Variocage, made by Swedish company MIM Construction AB, has passed front-end and rear-end crashes tested for dog-safety and human-safety in Sweden, and has been dog tested for roll-over safety as well. (Check out the crash test videos here.) It has been a popular pet transport in Europe for more than 10 years. Just recently available in the U.S., the Variocage has only one safety-tested and passed competitor - the Sleepypod, which only accommodates pets up to 15 pounds, and was only tested in front-end collisions.
But the Variocage is cumbersome, which is why it's not practical to take in and out of your car. For one, it's heavy. Whether you get the Variocage Single for one dog or the Variocage Double for two dogs or one super-size dog, the Variocage can weigh from 37.5 pounds to 110.5 pounds - by itself. The other issue is the Variocage assembly, which should take place in your car because the cage expands to fit snuggly between your seats and your back window, with a telescoping depth so that it fits just right and won't toss your pet around while you're driving.
The Variocage is not cheap; but if you don't have a crash, it's an investment that will last a long, long time... and keep many dogs safe, and give you peace of mind. In this case, as one customer wrote, "You get what you pay for."
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