- American Humane makes the astonishing claim that as many as 100,000 dogs are killed each year riding unrestrained in the back of a pickup truck.
- A new state legislator in Utah has introduced the Transportation of Dogs Act to make sure this potentially dangerous activity becomes illegal.
- Currently, only six states have specific laws against this sort of thing.
The state of Utah is about to consider legislation to make it illegal to let your dog(s) ride in the bed of a pickup truck. One impetus for the bill is the outrage that was created when the Utah Humane Society video (below) of a dog standing on a truck zooming down the highway went viral. Unrestrained dogs can be tossed around in the bed or fall off while the truck is moving—a problem with an easy solution, but even easy may be too hard for people used to the practice. Still, if the American Humane organization's claim—that 100,000 dogs die each year from riding in pickup-truck beds—is anywhere near reality, it's a serious problem.
Rep. Ashlee Matthews, the only Democrat to win in Utah in November, has introduced the Transportation of Dogs Act (officially, H.B. 386) to the state legislature. The bill would make it illegal for people to drive faster than 40 mph with unrestrained dogs in the back of their truck. There are exceptions for working farm dogs and hunting dogs or if the sides of the bed are at least 46 inches tall. A driver's first violation would result in an infraction, and any further violations would be misdemeanors. Rep. Matthews did not respond to Car and Driver’s request for comment.
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Deann Shepherd of the Humane Society of Utah told local news station WITN last year that the group would support a law similar to what Rep. Matthews has introduced. The Utah state legislative session ends March 5.
"This bill is long overdue," said Rachel Heatley, Utah Humane Society advocacy director, in a statement. "This legislation is an easy and effective way to reduce distraction on Utah's high-speed roadways and save countless lives of humans and animals."
Other States' Laws
According to outdoor supplier Orvis, only six other states have laws that ban unrestrained dogs riding in truck beds: Connecticut, Maine, Massachusetts, Minnesota, New Hampshire, and Rhode Island. Some states also forbid drivers from having dogs on their lap while driving, and some states require dogs to be in the back seat of cars. Orvis notes there are 16 states where the laws regarding dog transportation are ambiguous enough that it's likely up to a law enforcement officer to decide if the way the dog is being carried is dangerous or against the law.
The American Humane Society says pets should always ride inside the cab, never in a truck bed. In fact, it is the first safety rule listed on the group's website, which goes on to point out that it's not just falling or jumping out of the bed that can hurt the animal. There's no protection from the weather in the bed, so at the very least you should use a secured crate back there if you have to carry your dog and there's no room in the cabin.
Dogs falling out of truck beds can also be hazardous to other drivers, but simply leashing your dog to the truck is not a good idea, the group said, because "many dogs have been strangled when tossed or bumped over the side of the truck and been left helplessly dangling."
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