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: 2/5
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.
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.