This State May Make It Illegal For Dogs To Be In Cars Without Seat Belts


A Maine politician sponsored a bill that would make it illegal to have unresetrained dogs in cars while driving in the state.

Rep. Jim Handy (D-Lewiston) submitted it on behalf of concerned citizens who are worried about the safety of pets in moving vehicles.

“I think it is worthy of discussion, certainly. I don’t know if I support it or not,” Handy said in a story by Portland Press Herald. “I have a dog, I think the approach is laudable. I have heard from people who are for and against it.”

According to the article, Maine currently has a law stating that dogs must be restrained when in an open vehicle, such as a pickup truck or convertible, to prevent them from jumping or falling out.

The bill states that local pups would legally have to be “restrained by a tether or harness that is secured in a manner that would minimize an injury to an 21 occupant or the dog in the event of an accident.” It would also specifically prohibit dogs from sitting in the laps of drivers or sticking their heads out the window.

When the Press Herald posted the article on Facebook, it was met with some strong reactions.

“My dog is a rescue dog. She has severe anxiety and fears. She wouldn’t like riding in the back and would become scared if I harnessed her,” wrote commenter Sue Harrington. “I understand the head out the window, but she enjoys doing that when she is in front with us. She is always held onto though.”

“Absolutely. Long over due,” said Liz McGeehan Smith. “Drives me nuts when I see a dog sitting on the drivers[sic] lap. But if a dog is sitting in the back seat that is fine.”

Either way, I will continue to allow my dog to enjoy the warm breeze, abundance of smells all the while having his head out the window,” commented Tricia Woods Fernald. “I know how to properly and safely care for my boy.”


According to the Portland Press Herald, the bill has since been withdrawn. Regardless, it still brings up an interesting point about pet safety. And, if some states make it illegal for people to ride without seat belts, should the same be said for pets, too?

The article explains:

“Maine’s distracted driving law already applies to motor vehicle operators who drive with a pet in their lap. Veterinarians recommend keeping dogs in a crate while traveling in a moving vehicle. In the case of a crash, unrestrained dogs can be injured or killed.”

What do you think of this bill proposal? Tell us in the comments below! 

(h/t: Portland Press Herald)

Written by Karen Tietjen
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