Driving with Your Pet needs Common Sense, not Legislation

By Automotive Staff | January 23, 2008
For once in my life, I am absolutely speechless. Not for lack of anything to say, but for a complete feeling of incredulousness that a new group called Bark Buckle Up thinks we need legislation forcing all dog owners to implement the use of doggie seat belts for our four legged friends. Does anyone in this group own a dog? This idea comes hot on the heels of California passing a law that made it illegal for owners to leave their dogs unattended in a hot vehicle. But in actuality, that law has been used even to penalize drivers with dogs in the car when it isn’t hot out. Let’s just start with one thing. I take my dog everywhere with me in the car. To the store, to the post office--everywhere except work. I understand that a canine in the car can be dangerous in emergency braking, but so can that loose case of soda or whatever that people have lurking in their backseat.
Bark Buckle Up points to the danger of airbags to dogs in the front seat. All I have to say is that your dog should always ride in the back. They don’t need to be up front with you or in your hands if it is Paris Hilton Chihuahua-sized. These are standard, logical things any rational, sensible dog owner should know. My parents were warned by a passing animal control officer one chilly winter evening as they went into the local grocery store that they would get a $250 ticket if they didn’t leave the windows cracked halfway down. A.) It was cold out and B.) they had two boxers in the car that have really thin fur coats. For you and me it would be like sitting outside in the car only in your boxer shorts (sorry, bad pun) on a 55 degree evening. It does get that cold at night here in Southern California! Returning to the topic of pet seat belts, what would our options be for buckling down our pets? Well, one would be an actual harness that attaches to your seatbelt. Those are easily available at Pet stores and from Specialty Pet catalogs like Doctors Foster and Smith. Another option is the use of specially fitted cages and rear seat or cargo hold separators sold as dealer installed options by automakers ranging from Acura to the perennial safety worry-wart Volvo. My mom actually invested $400 in a dog separator for her Acura MDX but it has never been used because she believed her boxer did not like riding in the “cargo area.” Apparently he has claustrophobia. Must everything in this country be legislated? Are we all too stupid to make decisions on our own?Are we dumber than the average Dalmatian? (No offense to that breed, but have you ever met a smart one? I didn’t think so.) To be honest, I think this group should focus more time worrying about other segments of the pet owning population, like those that refuse to spay or neuter their pets, instead of people who bring their dogs everywhere. To be honest, have you ever met a person who brought their canine in the car with them who appeared to have an abused pet? These are the most spoiled dogs in the world! So much so their “caretakers” can’t bear to be apart for them even for a short while. So please, members of Bark Buckle Up, don’t try to legislate common sense. If you take away my dog’s right to ride along with me in the car, the only one paying that ruff penalty will be my four-legged best friend. via guest blogger Jim Hamel