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New Jersey lawmakers are considering a new bill which would require pet owners to restrain their un-crated pets or face a $20 ticket and a possible animal cruelty charge that may include a civil penalty of up to $1,000.
The proposal, started by Assemblywoman L. Grace Spencer (D., Essex), has gained both support and ridicule. Typically, those who rarely travel with their pets or already restrain them are in support, while those that love the joy their dogs feel with their heads sticking out the window, drool flying and ears flapping, aren’t thrilled with the proposal.
The Philadelphia Inquirer reported,
Spencer, who has a Teacup Pomeranian named AJ, isn’t without sympathy for canine passengers. “It’s iconic . . . dogs getting a breath of fresh air and drooling down the side of the car,” she acknowledged. “But something needs to be done about restraining [pets] so they don’t create distractions that could impact other motorists or pedestrians.”
Among those that oppose the bill are Assemblyman Jay Webber (R., Morris), who thinks an animal cruelty charge is excessive. “A dog lying on the backseat of a car or sticking his head out the window shouldn’t be an offense,” said Webber. “We’ve gotten along just fine for the past 100 years.”
While we’re big advocates for automobile safety, charging a dog owner with animal cruelty for allowing their dogs to ride unrestrained may be a bit over the top. Although, a seatbelt law for dogs isn’t an entirely bad idea…
Some states, including Arizona, Connecticut, Hawaii, and Maine, currently have “distracted-driving laws” in place that can be used to charge drivers with pets on their laps or otherwise causing a driver to be distracted, but do not specifically call for the pets to be restrained.
Nationally, about 90% of dog owners regularly travel with their dog in the car. Only 2% of those dogs are properly restrained. You’d be hard-pressed to find any organization that doesn’t recommend that all dogs be restrained. Having a dog on your lap while driving is dangerous, not only for the driver and other motorists, but unrestrained dogs can be seriously injured, even killed, in the event of an accident.
Restraining your dog is just a plain ol’ good idea. But is it animal cruelty if you don’t? Weigh in with a comment!