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
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.”