Tuesday, February 23, 2010

Champion Canine Seat Belt System

This is the second seat belt we are reviewing for our series on vehicle safety restraint systems. Champion Canine Seat Belt System is comprised of a heavy-duty harness and a restraint strap to attach to the vehicle's seat belt or cargo hooks.

This is one of the better seat belt system we've tried with Elaine. However, before we go any further with the review, it is important that we address the biggest weakness or flaw with the system --- the ordering. If you do an online search for Champion Canine seat belt, www.champk-9.com tops the result list. Do NOT use that website. One of the most common complaint found in the online search is the poor customer service and slowness in receiving the product (if you receive one at all). Very few complaints were with the product itself. Apparently, there are currently 2 very similar sites online: www.usaK9outfitters.com and www.champk-9.com. The latter is the bad one. The site still takes your orders but will not process / ship the products. Fortunately, as far as we can tell, you are not charged for the products if they have not shipped them. We placed an order in March 2009 and have been monitoring for any charges.

If you are interested in the Champion Canine Seat Belt System, go to www.usak9outfitters.com for ordering and information. Please note that when we researched this system in 2009, champk-9.com was one of the "good" site to order at the time. Hence, we recommend that you call the contact number to make sure you can reach a person before ordering. That does not guarantee anything but, at least, you will know it's a current active site / business. We have called usak9outfitters (303-343-0406) a couple of times the past several months and have always been promptly assisted by a very nice lady named Susie.

Ordering / Purchasing Experience:
This was rated 0/5 due to the above ordering problems with www.champk-9.com. Initially, we received an email stating the product was on back-order. But after that, we were never able to contact them again: emails were not answered and all voicemail options were full. However, once we contacted www.usak9outfitters.com, the customer service was great and the products were delivered in less than 2 weeks. Hence, we upped the rating to 2/5. Wish the company itself can do something to get their information higher on the web search so less people are led to the bad champk-9 address.

Appearance: 4.5/5
The adjustable harness is made of 1.5 inch (about 3.7 cm) wide nylon webbing. It has a simple but sturdy look. The high rating has more to do with the color choice (black, red, and royal blue) and the reflective Moonglow colors.

Ease of Use: 4.5/5
If you can get your dog into a body (walking) harness, you can get him/her into the Champion Harness. It's just a little more tricky because of the heavy hardware. Elaine was startled by the clanking of the D-rings.
The website has instructions on how to use the restraint strap in your vehicle. We also found a very well-done guide complete with pictures and tips on how to use the strap.

A minor drawback is that the heavy double D-rings may be too big for most regular leashes. You can order a Champion Lead or a universal lead adapter to attach to the D-rings then hook your regular leash to the adapter.

Safety: to be determined
As with the Roadie, we need to use this system a little longer to determine it's safety -- hopefully, not in a real crash. We want to see how Elaine tolerates the system. The floating chest pad is designed to allow the top of the harness to rotate down the side of the chest. We will see if that feature will keep Elaine from tangling with the harness and strap when she twists and turns around in the car.

Cost / Value: to be determined
The large harness for Elaine was $45 + $7.95 for shipping. It is the most expensive of the harnesses we've tried but well worth it if it helps keep us all safe in the car.

Overall First Impression:
Other than the ordering frustration, we like the Champion Canine Seat Belt system. The weight of the D-rings and the need for an adapter to use with our regular leash is a minor trade-off for a sturdier and, hopefully, safer product.


lazykerri said...

I found out through a google search that many people are also having similar problems when ordering from usak9outfitters.com

T-na said...

Thank you for that information. I'll have to follow-up on that. I called USAK9Outfitters 303-343-0406 and was able to get through to a live person. I ordered some adapter for the restraint strap and received it within a week. That was this past March, though.

Elizabeth said...

I have been using the champion seat belt for over two years after trying numerous seat belt systems. It's a great seat belt and I would not go back to anything else. It is very rare to have one of the dogs get twisted up.
I ordered from K9 outfitters and they were back ordered a couple of weeks in the color I wanted but when they shipped another color because I did not want to wait any longer they included a free leash.

Carol F said...

Last summer, my husband and I were in a bad car accident on a three-lane highway. An unlicensed driver, traveling in the wrong direction, hit us head on. Our van received over $9000 worth of damage. My husband and I both sustained injuries -- among them, broken ribs, a fractured sternum, torn rotator cuff and herniated discs. As the van came to a stop, my husband and I both turned around in horror. My physically disabled daughter's service-dog-in-training , Beckett, was in the car with us.

We unhooked Beckett's restraint. He jumped out of the car and began walking around. I was on the phone with our vet who had me run through a series of tests with him. He was completely uninjured! The emergency personnel were surprised.

My daughter had done considerable research before purchasing a car restraint system for her service dog. She chose the Champion harness and Survivor Restraint system because of the glowing reviews and quality construction. I do not want to think about the potential consequences if Beckett had not had his harness and restraint on that day!

We never travel with a dog in the car without the Champion harness and restraint system. I am forever grateful the USA K9 Outfitters for designing such an amazing product. Every dog is an important family member. A service dog is a lifeline. I highly recommend your products to everyone who loves and wants to protect their dog!

T-na said...

Carol F,
We hope you and your family have recovered / are recovering from that horrific accident. Thank you for the testimonial. It serves to remind me that there are many harnesses out there -- some are called restraint harnesses, etc... which are fine when the purpose is to keep your pet from distracting you or getting in your way. But in an actual accident? I am starting to believe that the Champion Canine Seat Belt System is "the one" if you are serious about safety / life-saving in an accident. Thanks again.

ABC123 said...

I called in my order on Jan 31 2012, Survivor big dog seat belt system $75.00 and Big dog lead for another $16 total of 98.95 w/shipping.
On Feb-4th I receive the harness only nothing more.
I write and email with no return answer. I then wait until the 6th and call to ask about the seat belt system and the lead.
Comment Oh we forgot to send that?
On the 8th I receive the shipping "label creation" conformation. Then on the 10th I still see no shipping movement from the tracking via US Mail. I write and email with no return answer. I call and left a message.
I did get a call back from a Susie Hawkins saying that they are busy and will send it out. I then get an email from her giving me the tracking number again.
I look and see there is no movement and call the post office. They say "We have no package for that number!" I then email Susie and tell her that creating a shipping label is not the same as shipping the item. I included the screen shot of the tracking information "Empty". I then tell her I'm and reporting this to me credit card company.

This was on the 10th at about 10am. later that night I check the tracking and see the item HAD finally been dropped off at 5:55PM only after I got mad and told her to put it into the mail. Her house (where they do business out of) is only 1.6 miles from the post office so I can only assume that it was not the distance that kept her from the post office but maybe was American Idol or something.
It is now Feb 11th and still only have the harness. Well I looked on whois.domaintools.com (the place that you look up web sites) and see that usak9outfitters has changed their name server 3 times in 5 years indicating the possibility that these two could be one and the same.
The harness is very good Quality I love it but for $98 I would have gone with something else had I known of all this trouble.
I can only wonder what I may or MAY NOT get for the rest of my order. Before ordering look up the address on Google and note that they do business out of their house. That tells you something right there.

T-na said...

I hope you get the rest of your order soon. Someone commented over a year ago that people were having ordering issues with the company regardless of the website or phone orders. It is a great product. Too bad their ordering system is not reflecting the quality of their product.

ABC123 said...

Well here I am again with an update. They only sent the lead and not the restraint system. I have called about 7 times and also email the same amount. I think that there must be a drug or alcohol problem with one of the people (I will not name) but the way that this person sounds on my answering machine sounds like they are high or drunk.
I filed a dispute with my Credit Card company. I Goggled this place and they are out of a house, not a commercial building. This was/is not worth the $98.95 I now have a harness and a lead but no way of restraining my 245 pound English Mastiff into my van for my move. This is the whole reason why I bought this was for the safety. I'm going to a local TAC shop to have a system made today.
Your time would be better spent by going to another place to buy your pet needs.

Yes the harness is very nice & sturdy. The ends of the web needs to be sanded before use or they could cut the dogs skin. No big deal took me a few minutes. The reason is that the ends are melted to seize the threads, but the edges of the melted areas are as sharp as a razor.
The system has the ability to be a great system if and only if the people would have a clue on how to run a business. It is Very, Very obvious that not one person had checked the order against what they are shipping out. I had a day set up for a bunch of people to meet up at my veterinarians office to see this system but the day came and went before I got all of the parts. Just to be clear I have not yet received the seatbelt system that secured the harness to the vehicle. I'm using a rope to tie my dog into the van right now.

ChristyB said...

I had been researching different systems and could NOT decide which was best. This blog post help me decide!

I called and left a message for USA K9 Outfitters before ordering. They called back within the day and I shared that I was hesitant to order because of troubles I had read about actually receiving the order. I felt reassured and so I ordered.

I got mine without incident - this was about a year ago. I have recommended the system to lots of people. I know some others that have also ordered - without calling first - and they haven't experienced any problems either.

I love the system. My only wish is that you could make the restraint even shorter so the dog would stay on the seat in case of an accident (my dog doesn't move around in the car).

I have the restraint clipped around the buckled seatbelt itself with the thought that the seatbelt would tighten in a crash and that would aid in keeping my dog safe. Anyone know if that's okay or not?

T-na said...

The diagram on the website showed the restraint strap attached to the buckled seatbelt -- the part that goes over your lap. If that's what you are doing then it should be fine. Although that part should already be tightened down and not "tighten in a crash" as you described. Not sure if you have a small or big dog but the Survivor Restraint Strap for big dogs can be adjusted down to about 6 inches.