It all began with a simple proposed bill from a Maine lawmaker that would require dogs to be harnessed or tethered in moving vehicles. Then it turned into angry conversations like this.
Scott Knox wrote on the Portland Press Herald Facebook Page, “I think we have more important issues to worry about.” Paula Plate wrote, “This is absolutely, positively ridiculous!” Kendall F. Stratton asked, “I can see having to have the dog secured so that he/she cannot interfere with the driver, but what’s wrong with letting him hang his head out the window?”
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The bill did is not going over well with many. This could mean no more fun rides for our dogs. No more sunny days hanging their out of the window. No more lounging in the back seat. Some people think the bill proposal should focus on other safety rules for dogs.
Melissa Redmen commented, “I usually never comment, but I just couldn’t keep quiet. This is absurd. As the owner of dogs, my babies love to take in the fresh air, but we are responsible and only crack the windows just enough for them to be restrained, and NOT jump out. Why don’t they fine the people who leave their dogs in the back of a truck with no restraints? I cannot tell you how many times I have rescued dogs who have jumped out of the back of a truck after falling out. Seriously….This is plain wacky!”
After news over the proposed bill broke last Wednesday, Republican Jim Handy withdrew the bill titled, “An Act Concerning the Transportation of Dogs in Passenger Vehicles.” Handy mentioned the constituent changed his mind.
Handy from the beginning believed pets should “have the freedom to stick their head out of the window,” and that his own dog “loves the fresh air coming into his face.”
“As a dog owner myself, I had reservations about whether that’s a good idea from the beginning, but it’s my job as a legislator to hear and represent the concerns of my constituents,” Handy mentioned in his statement regarding the withdrawal of the bill.
Had the bill advanced, measures would have made Maine the first in pet seat-belt legislation. Some states have laws that restrict unsecured dogs in open pickup truck beds, and others allow police to charge dog-holding drivers under distracted driving laws. Only Hawaii explicitly prohibits driving with a dog on your lap and letting an animal roam loose in a vehicle.
New Jersey has a law restricting the “improper transport” of animals, and in 2012, a state-sponsored event about pet safety in vehicles seemed to suggest that authorities would be keeping an eye out for dogs hanging out windows — and ticketing their owners.
“You wouldn’t put your child in the car unrestrained so you shouldn’t put your pet in the car unrestrained either. What people come to realize only too late is that animals act like flying missiles in an impact and cannot only hurt themselves but hurt their human family members too,” Col. Frank Rizzo, superintendent of the New Jersey Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals, which co-sponsored the event, said at the time. “A dog traveling on a driver’s lap is bad, but so are dogs hanging their heads out of windows, birds traveling on a driver’s shoulder or cats resting on a dashboard.”