Keep pets in their place
Kitter Spater's dog, Zelda, wouldn't stay in the back seat of his car. Wendy and Russ Moen's German shorthair was riding in the bed of their pickup truck one day when it spotted a squirrel and jumped out onto the road. Like so many people, Spater and the Moens like taking their pets along for the ride, but recognized the potential dangers and created solutions they now sell through their respective companies.
Spater devised the Back Seat Barrier, a steel-reinforced polyester panel that keeps a dog—or cargo—from moving from the back seat to the front seat. The Moens developed the PupHut, which provides shelter and a restraint leash for dogs riding in pickup truck beds.
Spater, his college friend Ryan Myers—they hold master’s degrees in industrial design from the prestigious Pratt Institute—started creating automotive aftermarket products in college and joined Spater's brother, Gordon, a Harvard business school graduate, to found Motivation Design LLC of Salisbury, Mass., to produce and market those products under their own Kurgo label.
Their first pet travel safety product was Back Seat Barrier, a steel-reinforced polyester wall that attaches to the front seat backs. The devise is designed to keep a pet from jumping into the front seats. It also restrains cargo should the driver have to make a panic stop. The team subsequently developed additional pet products, including the Tru-Fit Smart harness (a safety belt system for dogs), the Auto Zip Line (which allows the pet to move freely across the back seat while still in the harness) and several others, including a booster seat so smaller dogs can be secured but still see out of a vehicle's windows.
While Kurgo products are designed for use inside a vehicle, the Moens' PupHut fits into the bed of a pickup truck. The Moens used to live in Sacramento, Calif., and it often was simply too hot to take their dogs along. Russ Moen, an electrician, used conduit to fashion a frame for the first PupHut and had a canvas shop fit a canopy around it to provide shade in the truck bed. Later, he and Wendy added a leash system so pets aren't slammed around should the driver have to make emergency maneuvers.
Based on the success of their prototype, the Moens secured patents and launched M4 Products, LLC of Sandpoint, Idaho. Unlike the original prototype, PupHuts have powder-coated metal frames and vinyl shelter. No tools are needed to attach or remove at PupHut from a truck via four hand-tightened aluminum clamps.
The PupHut is priced at $229.95. Kurgo's Back Seat Barrier is $52. The Tru-Fit Smart Harness is $27.50. All products can be ordered through the companies' respective websites: www.kurgo.com and www.puphut.com.
Click here for more product reviews and do-it-yourself articles.