Two dogs have gone missing after two separate car accidents over the past couple of weeks. It serves as an unfortunate reminder that pets should be safely secured when riding in a car. 

When it comes to pets, it's always better to be proactive rather than reactive. Microchipping your pet is the most important first step for ensuring their safety. 

One of the dogs who recently went missing is an American Staffordshire Terrier/Whippet mix named Mara. She went missing on December 22nd after getting into a car accident with her owner on I-80 near Verdi. An already anxious dog, her owner, Pascale Manuera, says she likely got spooked.

"She just ran really quickly down the 80..She's my [emotional support animal] pet so it's really weird not having her around," she says.

It's not uncommon for this to happen to pets after accidents. Hope Rinehimer, a veterinarian with Sierra Veterinary Specialists, explains.

"When a dog gets freaked out...and if their owner is injured and can't calm them down, that's going to be their first thing is 'run,'" she says.

Just last night, another local pup went missing after a car crash on Lake Tahoe Boulevard. South Lake Tahoe Fire Rescue says they searched the area, but were unable to find the dog, a chihuahua in a pink sweater. 

Unfortunately, these instances are reminders to keep your dogs secured while driving with them.  Not only will a dog seat belt keep your dog from escaping, but will help avoid any injuries too.

"They can be thrown and sustain broken limbs, head trauma," Rinehimer says.

Many pet stores, like 'Natural Paws' in Reno, sell crates and seat belt harnesses, ideal for securing your pup.

"It prevents the dog from going forward," says Rob Burks, owner of Natural Paws. "The dog can still sit up in the seat and move left and right, but they can't get out of the seat, so if there's a sudden stop of the car, they don't shoot forward."

Burks says another important reminder is to sit your pets in the backseat. This can help avoid accidents caused by a pet jumping in the driver's seat. 

If you have any information about Mara's whereabouts, contact her owner at 415-876-8444. Her owner says she was recently sighted near Boomtown. 

If you have any information about the chihuahua wearing a pink sweater, contact South Lake Tahoe Dispatch at 530-542-6100.