Bark Buckle Up, a pet safety group, has launched Pet Safety Days, a nationwide initiative to educate pet owners about the dangers of driving with unrestrained pets.

From 11 a.m. to 3 p.m. Sunday, September 21st, a free Pet Safety Day with Bark Buckle Up to educate pet owners and demonstrate how to effectively use approved pet restraints will be hosted by Volvo of Santa Monica, 1719 Santa Monica Blvd., Santa Monica.

“Seat belts protect millions of people every day,” said Christina Selter, a pet safety advocate and founder of Bark Buckle Up, who says she buckles up her dog Betty, even if she’s just driving to the supermarket. “In the event of an accident, an unrestrained pet can escape and be hit by another vehicle, cause another collision, or attack emergency crews trying to reach an injured party.

“It only takes a few minutes to safeguard your pet and by properly securing your pet, you are protecting yourself, your passengers and your pet from injury — not to mention protecting other drivers and strangers trying to help.”

Unfortunately, many people are unaware that traveling with a pet in a motor vehicle is extremely dangerous for the animal as well as the driver — if the pet is not properly restrained, said a Bark Buckle Up spokesperson.

According to Bark Buckle Up, the incidence of pets traveling with their owners is up 300 percent from 2005 and currently more than 98 percent of pets travel unrestrained. Even in an accident at only 35 mph, a 60-pound dog can cause an impact of 2,700 pounds, slamming into a car seat, a windshield.

Buckling up is an important safety precaution for pets, according to the group, which offers the following information and tips:

— Many states and provinces now require that pets be restrained while in a moving vehicle, and restraints have several advantages.

— Restraints help protect pets in case of a collision and they keep pets from running loose and distracting the driver. They also keep pets from escaping the car through an open window or door.

— Unrestrained pets can also distract the driver and cause an accident.

— Even pets that are normally well behaved could be frightened by something unusual and dive for the driver’s feet or lap, a spokesperson said.

— Pet restraints keep pets inside the car after an accident. A frightened dog may attack strangers who are trying to help.

Bark Buckle UP will be giving away its approved Pet Safety Kit at the event, and there will be prizes, samples and giveaways.

The Pet Safety Kits include an emergency pet card and safety decal on which to list information for first responders to an accident about what should be done if you have a pet at home in need of care and you are unable to care for it, who to call to care for your pet if it has been in an accident with you, and the name and phone number of your pet’s veterinarian.

In the event of an accident, the information provided in the Bark Buckle UP Pet Safety Kit will help rescue workers properly seek care for your pet.

Bark Buckle UP works closely with fire, police and rescue officials nationwide to gain their support and teach them where to locate the emergency pet card and window decal.

Information, www.barkbuckle