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Illegal Lap Dogs

There was a time when I thought nothing of allowing my dog to be free in the car and stick his head out the window. Then I woke up and realized that if we were in an accident, the rest of his body would go through that window. I would have no one to blame but myself for his injuries, suffering and possibly death. We now use wire crates and seatbelt harnesses to ensure all five of our dogs travel safely.

So you'd think I'd be all rah-rah about the proposed legislation making it illegal for people to drive with dogs on their laps. Frankly, I think attempting to legislate common sense is ridiculous. No one likes to be told they HAVE to do something, like they're five years old. Plus, it's a waste of time and money as the bill meanders through the maze that is our government. Isn't there a better way to educate the public about safe dog travel? I'd love to hear your ideas.

Julia Kamysz Lane

May 6, 2008 in Current Affairs, Humane, Legislation, media, Travel | Permalink


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I am opposed to new laws (don't we have enough) but I do see the reason behind this one and it's lesson hits very close to home.

A few years ago, a young co-worker in her 20s was killed in a one-vehicle accident while on her way home from visiting her parents. Her dog was in her lap and also died due the impact of the airbag. The cause of the accident was never officially determined. It was decided that she may have fallen asleep or lost control due to her dog being loose. We'll never know. Lisa and her beloved dog might be alive today if the dog had been properly secured. To this day, we have a fundraiser for shelter animals during the month of June in her honor. We also try to educate people on the dangers of driving with an unsecured dog.

Our dogs have seatbelts. They don't like them but we're all safer that way.

Posted by: charli | Jun 8, 2008 1:42:17 PM

Whatever would possess a person to drive with a dog in her or his lap? Isn't barreling down the road inside a dangerous weapon at murderous speeds risky enough? Why would you want to enhance the risk to a) yourself, b) everyone around you, and c) your dog?

Amazingly, people have to be told--by laws with teeth in them--to put their kids in seatbelts and not to haul Granny around in the back of a pick-up. If it takes a law to convince people to secure their dogs (and cats!) inside a vehicle rather than letting them climbing around the driver's seat, then so be it.

The seatbelt I got for my Ger-shep is as arcane as some ancient mystical tool. Even following the instructions word by picture by word, it's hard to get on. Best trick I've found: a sturdy wire "den" secured firmly to the hardware in the back of the van.

Posted by: Funny about Money | May 25, 2008 4:54:48 PM

It is unfortunate that the few out there with no common sense end up in situations that result in laws for their protection (and ours).

I have never thought that driving with your pet on your lap was terribly smart for lots of reasons...secure your pets in the back and keep everyone safe!

Posted by: Gunner | May 9, 2008 10:34:04 AM

In a way, its very exciting because it seems that both legislation and general perception are starting to see dogs as more than just property, which they are, so much more.

Posted by: K9 Amiga | May 7, 2008 5:39:24 PM

Belt up like this?


Tee hee hee hee..

my dog wasn't belted up previously.. and this was what he did to my windscreen when a motorcyclist pissed him off..


we were lucky.. no damages to the dog or to any human.

it is dangerous for both the driver.. being distracted and such by the happening in the car, as well as having to pay attention to the roads..

crating and belting up is the way to go.

Posted by: kingsley | May 6, 2008 11:26:52 PM

My dogs are belted in for their safety, but also for mine. An unrestrained dog can cause injuries to occupants in an accident, interfere with drivers and cause one, or jump out an open door/window in a high-traffic area.

Personally I think the law makes sense. People didn't wear seatbelts until it became the law, despite their use being as common sense as it gets. If people want to dismiss common sense and harm themselves, that's OK, but the problem with senseless driving habits is that it puts other people at risk.

Such behavior really should be legislated. That's what laws are for, to protect us from others who might do harm. After all, shouldn't it be common sense to not murder someone?

Posted by: Andrew | May 6, 2008 8:02:49 AM

i have to admit.. i am an illegal lap dog person, my little westie insists on laying on my lap.. granted, she doesn't stick her head out of the window, but i have recently worried about this for these exact reasons..
do you reccomend any specfic products?

thanks for bringing this up, i think alot of people make this same mistake without realizing it.

Posted by: emily | May 6, 2008 7:38:05 AM

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