Earlier this week USA Today published an article on new state laws requiring pets to be restrained when riding in vehicles. No doubt, last year’s pet travel survey by AAA and Kurgo is part of the reason. The results of the survey were distressing:
- 56% of respondents had driven with their dog in a vehicle at least once per month over the past year.
- Only 16% of owners who had driven with their pet used some form of restraint for the dog in the vehicle.
According to the American Pet Products Association, there are 78 million dogs in US households. So, if 56% of those 78 million dogs are going for a ride at least once a month … that’s 43,680,000 dogs traveling in vehicles. And, only 16% are buckled up? That means 36,691,200 dogs’ lives are being put at risk every month.
But it gets better … more than four out of five people (83%) responding to the survey agreed that having an unrestrained dog in a moving car can be dangerous. That seems to be the impetus for laws being applied to pets in vehicles.
Arizona, Connecticut and Maine – distracted-driving laws can be used to charge drivers with pets on their laps.
Hawaii – explicitly forbids drivers from holding a pet on their lap.
New Jersey – a NJSPCA officer can stop a driver they believe is improperly transporting an animal. Tickets range from $250 to $1,000 per offense, and a driver can face a disorderly person’s offense under animal-cruelty laws.
Rhode Island – Democratic State Rep. Peter Palumbo has proposed legislation that would make having a dog in your lap a distracted-driving violation.
The goal of these states is not to save the lives of our pets … though it will be a nice side effect. The main focus of the legislation is to protect humans lives – the pet owners’ and everyone else on the road. Unrestrained pets can become a distraction. Distractions cause accidents. In a collision at 50 mph, an unrestrained 10-pound dog will hit you with about 500 pounds of force – more than enough to do serious damage to you and the dog. Just imagine the kind of force a dog Buster’s size would inflict!
We have laws that require us to wear seat belts and ensure our children are properly restrained in the car. There are laws to protect us from drunk drivers and people who text, apply make-up, or talking on the phone while driving. Is the requirement that we buckle up our pets really too much to ask?
What do you think? Would you support a pet restraint law in your state?