Maine politi­cian pro­poses a seat-belt law for dogs. Let the howl­ing be­gin.

Fido can’t feel the wind in his face, and Daisy can't ride in your lap

The Washington Post Sunday - - NEWS - BY KARIN BRULLIARD karin.brulliard@wash­post.com

A Maine law­maker re­cently pro­posed a bill that would re­quire dogs to be har­nessed or teth­ered in mov­ing ve­hi­cles.

In other words: No more dogs joyously hang­ing out the win­dow, jowls and ears flap­ping in the breeze. No more small pooches perched on driv­ers’ laps like mini co-pi­lots.

If com­ments on lo­cal news sto­ries about the idea are any guide, this pro­posal did not go over par­tic­u­larly well.

“My dog’s go­ing to be so p---ed when he finds out,” An­drew Hes­sel­bart wrote on the Face­book page of the Port­land Press Her­ald. “Stop try­ing to con­trol ev­ery­one,” wrote Jeremy Col­li­son.

On Wed­nes­day, one day after the news­pa­per’s story on the bill ran, state Rep. Jim Handy (D) with­drew the bill he had spon­sored, which was soberly ti­tled “An Act Con­cern­ing the Trans­port­ing of Dogs in Pas­sen­ger Ve­hi­cles.” In a state­ment, Handy said the con­stituent who had sug­gested it had changed his mind.

Handy, for his part, seemed pretty luke­warm on the idea from the start. He told the New Eng­land Ca­ble Net­work that he wanted pets to “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 said in his state­ment on with­draw­ing the bill.

Had it pro­gressed, the mea­sure would have made Maine a pi­o­neer in pet seat-belt leg­is­la­tion. Some states have laws that re­strict un­se­cured dogs in open pickup truck beds, and oth­ers al­low po­lice to charge doghold­ing 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, and New Jersey has a law re­strict­ing the “im­proper trans­port” of an­i­mals.

There are plenty of strappy doggy seat belts on the mar­ket. But tests of har­nesses by the Cen­ter for Pet Safety and Subaru re­sulted in only one be­ing crash-test cer­ti­fied by the cen­ter; sim­i­larly, just one brand’s pet travel car­ri­ers, which can be strapped to car seats, earned cer­ti­fi­ca­tion. A pi­lot study of spe­cial pet seats, which are kind of like kids’ car seats, con­cluded that they “may of­fer dis­trac­tion preven­tion, but it will likely not of­fer crash pro­tec­tion.”

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