The Mercury News

Florida bill would ban dogs from sticking heads out of car windows

- By Zoe Sottile and Amanda Watts

A new bill in Florida might mean no more joyrides for Fido.

A bill moving through the Florida legislatur­e would forbid dogs from sticking their head out of car windows, in addition to a host of other measures.

The proposed measure is part of Senate Bill 932, a sweeping animal welfare bill sponsored by senate minority leader Lauren Book.

Section 1 of the bill deals with transporti­ng dogs in cars. The section would prohibit Floridians from allowing “a dog to extend its head or any other body part outside a motor vehicle window while the person is operating the motor vehicle on a public roadway.”

The bill says violators would be subject to a noncrimina­l traffic infraction, considered a moving violation.

The section also includes other regulation­s on how dogs can be transporte­d in cars. The bill would ban Floridians from holding dogs in their lap while driving, or transporti­ng their dogs via the car's running board, fender, hood, roof, or trunk. Instead, it stipulates dogs in motor vehicles on public roadways must be either secured in appropriat­ely-sized crates, restrained with a harness or pet seat belt, or “under the physical control of a person other than the operator of the motor vehicle.”

In addition, the bill proposes new restrictio­ns on declawing cats, cosmetic animal testing, animal cruelty, and the sale of rabbits.

Animal abuse registry

Section 9 of the bill would create an “animal abuse registry,” much like the registries that currently exist for sex offenders. Starting January 1, 2024, informatio­n on people convicted of animal abuse would be posted to a publicly accessible state website. The registry would include each offender's legal name and aliases, address, date of birth, and photograph. Registered abusers would also not be permitted to “own, possess, or reside in the same residence with or on the same property as an animal unless authorized to do so in a court order.”

Book said in a statement shared with CNN her family has three dogs that “love sticking their heads out the window.”

“I welcome and appreciate all public comment on this issue, which is only one piece of a complete proposed overhaul of the state's animal welfare system as brought to me by veterinari­ans and advocates,” she went on.

After news of the proposed bill got out, commentato­rs on Book's Facebook page aired their grievances in the comments section on an unrelated post.

“Talked to my dog, he said his body, his choice and to mind your own business when it comes to how he chooses to enjoy a ride in the car,” one commenter wrote.

“You are against dogs sticking their head out the window? Seriously people cannot afford rent but this is your worry,” another wrote.

Bill can be amended

Book added, “We can easily amend this piece out of the bill while protecting the intent of the animal welfare community and vets who proposed the policy because of unintended injuries they've treated — and we will.”

The American Veterinary Medical Associatio­n says on its website allowing a dog to hang its head out of a car window is always “a very risky venture for the dog.”

The practice “means your dog isn't properly restrained,” increases the risk of injury from “airborne objects,” and increases the risk of the dog falling out of the window, being thrown from the vehicle during a crash, or jumping out of the vehicle.

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