Ford Motor Co has developed a prototype quiet kennel for dogs by using noise-cancellation technology created for high-end vehicles sold in Europe.

For years, veterinarians have urged people to find quiet space for their pets because holiday fireworks can terrify the animals. They run away, get hit by cars, develop anxiety and stress that can lead to injury and self-harm. Dogs have an acute sense of hearing that is far superior to humans, so loud noises can be especially painful and upsetting.

“We get animals that are absolutely scared to death,” said Michele Mara, a vet tech at Gasow Veterinary Hospital in Birmingham, Michigan, the United States. “They go through glass windows, rip the house up on the Fourth of July. They don’t like the sound of guns or fireworks. They just don’t handle it well. Many people often medicate the animals.”

The Ford quiet kennel design detects noise and transmits opposing frequencies. In addition to noise cancellation, the structure also has a sound-proofing component and an automatic door. Mara sees a strong sales potential if the kennel is produced commercially.

The kennels are not available for purchase and not yet being produced.

“We’re not in the dog kennel business,” Anthony Ireson, director of marketing and communications for Ford Europe, said, laughing.

But if someone wants to develop the prototype? Ford is open to the idea.

“We wondered how the technologies we use in our cars could be applied to help in other situations. Could dogs enjoy quieter New Year’s Eve celebrations through the application of our Active Noise Control system?” said Lyn West, brand content manager, marketing communications, Ford of Europe.

“We have a few more ideas in progress as to how our everyday lives might benefit from a little Ford know-how.”

Dogs in the quiet kennels hear less sound and feel less vibration. The sound systems are located in microphones around the dog bed in the kennel.

Ford uses the technology in its Edge/Endura SUV that went on sale in Australia last month for US$44,990 (RM186,155).

“All we’ve done is try to see how the technology could be used in life,” Ireson said during a phone interview on his lunch break outside London. “If there’s enough interest, we’ll explore the technology” for production.

The project started as just a way of showing technology that’s often invisible to the consumer and now available in cars, Ireson said. “It’s hard to demonstrate what can be done. This is the first of a series we’re doing about how our vehicle technology impacts life in other ways. This just struck a chord.” – Tribune News Service/Detroit Free Press/Phoebe Wall Howard