Dogs at Chevrolet stand at NY Auto Show

GM Goes to the Dogs at New York Auto Show

It's a comment sentiment to say "GM is going to the dogs" in any number of ways (design, government loans, etc.) but not in the way you would least expect: serving them and their owners breakfast while letting them prance around the GM display at the New York International Auto Show.

On Wednesday, before the doors opened to the general public, GM put the call out for owners and their pooches to come on down to the show for breakfast and a sampling of what makes GM a dog-friendly company. Of course, at the same time, there was advice for owners on what attributes make a car pooch friendly.

Not surprisingly, the expert GM had at the show, Charlotte Reed, was loaded with advice about what Chevrolets make the right vehicles for pets. However, you can take her advice and apply it to most any vehicle on the road, now that you know what to look for in a vehicle friendly to your pets.

“To avoid stress, do your homework in advance and make note of your specific pet’s needs and review safety features,” said Reed, a pet lifestyle expert and First for Women pet solutions columnist.. “Whether you need space, special safety features or convenience technologies, today’s automobiles offer a range of options that can make traveling more enjoyable.”

Here are a few tips to keep in mind for finding a pet-friendly vehicle:

· Safety features. According to the 2011 AAA/Kurgo study, three out of 10 pet owners admit to being distracted while driving. One in five admits to driving with a pet in their lap. The Chevrolet Equinox, for example, has a lane-departure warning system, stability and traction control and forward-collision alerts that help heighten driver alertness to possible danger. Owners can reduce distractions by keeping pets restrained in the back seat or in a pet carrier.

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· Exterior and interior features. Look for vehicles that are wide, tall and slightly square at the back. This will make it easier to get pets and pet equipment into and out of vehicles. Cargo room and additional cup holders are useful to stow pet food, water and accessories. The Chevrolet Traverse crossover sport utility offers best-in-class roominess and class-leading cargo space. It has flexible and fold-flat seating, as well as a rear cooling system that is ideal for pets on a hot summer day.

· In-vehicle technology. The Chevrolet Equinox, Traverse and TahoeSUV offer power lift-gates that make it easier for pets to access the vehicle. They also have fold-flat seats offer more space for transporting pets and crates. Additional safety and security technology such as remote unlock, vehicle location and crash-detection services from OnStar can provide live help at a touch of a button during pet-emergency situations. All Chevrolet vehicles come equipped with OnStar that uses GPS and cellular technology to provide help during emergency situations -- such as finding the nearest veterinarian's office while travelling in unfamiliar locales. (OK it's propaganda but give the GM press flack who wrote the press release a little credit for creativity.)

· Fuel efficiency. Gas-saving vehicles can save money, leaving more to spend for pet treats and toys. In addition to extra space, the Equinox crossover offers the interior room of an SUV along with the improved handling and fuel economy of a car. With its rear hatch and fold-down seats, the Volt extended-range electric vehicle is an option that’s good for both your pet and the environment.

OK, some of the advice is basic, but in keeping with the theme of the press release, there were some tasty morsels of information that should help pet owners carry their precious cargo safely.