by Jason Smith
When Gunner Kennels’ founder Addison Edmunds decided, during a duck hunt, that his buddy Gunner needed a better crate, he didn’t go shopping. He started a company. That simple desire to give his canine pal the best protection possible led to the creation of Gunner Kennels with the slogan: “Man’s best friend deserves man’s best kennel.”
And holy cow! It’s the most durable, toughest, most solid travel crate I have ever seen. The testimonials on their fantastic website (www.gunnerkennels.com) speak to that. Having been in a rollover accident myself on the way to a duck hunt – black ice on a South Dakota state highway – I have never felt like my Labs are protected enough when I travel with them. But with the G1 kennel, that’s pretty much a thing of the past.
Heavy, double-wall rotomolded, two layers of protection, built-in pins for tie-down straps, rubber feet to prevent sliding, a door with a keyed lock plus two safety locks at the top and bottom…the safety features on these beasts are impressive. They even put them through crash-testing, earning a five-star rating in the Pet Travel Crate Crash Test Protocol and Rating System through the Center for Pet Safety. The G1 kennel is the first – and only – kennel to receive the five-star rating. (And the people at Gunner Kennels did a lot of other toughness testing, the videos of which you can see on their website.)
“Whenever we receive a call that a customer’s dog would not still be alive without our kennel, it sends chills down my back,” Addison says. “We are actually making a difference in the world.”
Four sizes are available:
- Small: dogs up to 30 pounds; exterior 24.5” L x 18.625” W x 19” H;
- Medium: dogs up to 45 pounds; exterior 29.5” L x 20.5” W x 23.5” H;
- Intermediate: dogs up to 75 pounds; exterior 34” L x 23” W x 28.5” H (this is what I tested for our Lab, Bulleit; I had to cram and wiggle a little bit to get the crate into the cargo area of my Dodge Journey);
- Large: dogs up to 110 pounds; exterior 40.25” L x 28” W x 33.25” H; the large crate also has rear wheels.
Bulleit is a pretty solid 70 pounds, and he fit comfortably snug in the intermediate, which is the kind of fit you want in a travel crate. And make no mistake, these crates are designed for travel in vehicles. You can get optional tie-down straps to secure to the anchor points in your truck bed or cargo areas. (They also meet most airline requirements, but you will still need to confirm with the airline about what you are required to provide for air travel.) The Gunner Kennels website has a little quiz and additional information to help you pick out the best-sized crate for your dog.
But it’s not just vehicle safety that drove Addison when he developed the G1. He was also concerned about heat. The front, side, and rear windows provide excellent ventilation, and there’s even a built-in fan kit you can purchase that fits securely inside one of the windows. The optional Seadek Kennel Padding for the interior also helps to cool things down. You should really see the temperature test video they performed on a hot day (without dogs, of course). There are still more options and accessories you can explore on their website, but a couple I have to mention: removable carry handles; and a nifty drain plug, like in a cooler, to make hosing out and draining much easier.
Now, with these features, safety, made in America construction, and lifetime manufacturer warranty, these aren’t cheap. But it’s also likely the last plastic travel crate you’ll ever have to purchase no matter how many dogs fill your lifetime. Prices: Small – $349.99; Medium – $429.99; Intermediate – $499.99; Large – $599.99. Tie-down straps are an additional $74.99. However, the company also offers a 12-month payment plan option (see website for details, interest, and to see if you qualify). Shipping costs are additional as well, and the larger crates are considered oversized packages.
Spend the time on the Gunner Kennels website and explore the testimonials, videos, safety ratings, and information. If you’ve ever worried about your pal while in the car or truck, you owe it to him.