Should Seat Belts for Pets be Mandatory?

Most people know that they either click it or ticket, but should the failure to buckle up your pets lead to a fine as large as $1,000? That's the question facing New Jersey, where a mandatory pet seat belt bill has been proposed:

Assemblywoman L. Grace Spencer, a Newark Democrat who owns a Pomeranian named A.J. along with five cats and a rabbit, has introduced a bill to require motorists to secure dogs and felines with a seatbelt-like harness if they’re not being transported in crates. Violators would get a $25 ticket that might escalate to an animal-cruelty charge with a fine of as much as $1,000 in extreme cases, such as having an unrestrained pet in the bed of a pickup.

Not everyone agrees, however:

Her proposal riles Assemblyman Jay Webber, a Morris Plains Republican who calls the bill “busybody government at its best.” Webber, whose family when he was a child had a Lhasa apso, introduced a measure to clarify that failure to restrain an animal isn’t equivalent to inhumane treatment. He also said New Jersey is grappling with bigger issues, including a budget deficit and a stagnant economy.

Bloomberg has the story: Link

What do you think? Should pet seat belt be mandatory?



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I worked in a veterinary hospital for 10 years. I've seen first hand the damage that can be done when an unrestrained animal slams into the back of a seat - or into a windshield when the driver hits the brakes. It ain't pretty. And one of our patrons died when her cat went flying into her head during an accident. So yes, restraints should be mandatory.
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Here in Argentina they are mandatory.

I have a Shetland sheepdog (the Scottish one, a medium sized dog), and he uses a special seatbelt that anchors in the regular buckle of the backseat on one end, and to his harness on the other. I find it extremely useful, as people here are not renowned for their magnificent driving skills or education, when I have to hit the brakes a bit hard. He is comfortable with it, and I can be sure that he will not hit the back of the seat, or worse, suddenly appear over the dashboard, getting hurt.
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Most dog "seat belts" can only handle very small (<20lbs) dogs. I had a golden retriever jump out of the car, snapping the seat belt...

As long as the dog rides reasonably safe and comfortable - as in the back of a station wagon, behind the seatbelt, with or without a cage - and not slamming around on the bed of a pickup, I don't see a big problem. It's not certain that a seatbelt would be better for the dog than in the back of the car.

But if you want your dog to ride shotgun or in the backseat, then a seatbelt might be in place.
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