I am going to NY this weekend and currently suffering from some yucky cold that I can’t kick, so when my hubby called and woke me up at almost 10 o’clock last night to tell me he had lost his cars keys I was less than thrilled, to say the least. He was at an NBA game downtown and needed me to bring him the spare set. I decided that if I had to drag my butt out of bed, I might as well bring the dogs along and make it an adventure. So I folded down the seats, rolled the windows down (but not too far because Buddy has been known to jump out so he can go introduce himself to strangers) and off we went.
Getting downtown was no problem, nor was finding Rich….but getting back? For whatever reason I took the wrong exit and we ended up going waaay out of the way. And then a police officer pulled up behind me…and stayed there. I suffer from the delusion that I’m always going to get caught when there is a police officer around. For what? Who knows. But my mind was racing. Was he running my plates? Was he looking at my “My Pit Bull is Family” bumper sticker and getting ready to pull me over and shoot Maggie? (I have read one too many sad storied about pit bulls being shot and yes, I’m a “worst-caser”, plus I was sick and tired!) Could he see the dogs in the back and was getting ready to pull me over for that? It seems like I remember hearing that they are going to start requiring dogs to be restrained, but I can’t quite remember….then the officer turned and I was safe. But my mind kept going. Had I in fact been breaking a law by having the three of them loose in the back of my SUV? Turns out, Rich had already researched this and I completely forgot to read (and obviously post) what he had learned! Let’s all find out together:
There is currently a push for legislation in states to prohibit driving a car with a dog unrestrained in it. The push stems from a fear of dogs causing accidents by interfering with the driver’s use of the steering wheel or pedals, or distracting the driver or from the added damage that can occur when in an accident, that the dog can become a “missile” further injuring itself and/or the occupants of the car. I know in our household traveling with the dogs in the car has lead to more than one red light being run to avoid having to slam on the brakes and making them go flying.
There are seven states that restrict letting dogs or other animals ride in the back of a pick up truck or otherwise open air vehicles. Though many of these statutes can be complied with by putting the dog in a crate in the bed of the truck, or by cross tethering the animal to the truck.
There are only a few states that currently have any law on the books that can be used to ticket someone that drives with an unrestrained dog inside the car. New Jersey is one such state and a fine of up to $1,000 for someone improperly transporting an animal. At this time, Florida does not have a specific law on the books for this.
Other states prohibit driving with a pet in your lap. Hawaii has an explicit law prohibiting this conduct and Arizona, Maine and Connecticut can use their distracted driving laws to ticket drivers for this conduct.
What do you think? Is driving with a dog unrestrained in the passenger compartment of the car inherently dangerous, should there be a law against it, or would this just be more needless regulation? Don’t just tell us! In a previous post we linked to this Library of Congress website that allows you to contact your local state legislator. Write them and tell them what you think about potential legislation and then share your thoughts here with us.