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Thread: Should dogs have to buckle-up, too?

  1. #1
    Vulture of The Western World Eric's Avatar
    Join Date
    Jul 2006
    The Land of The Edentulites

    Should dogs have to buckle-up, too?

    Some state and local governments have been floating the idea of making it illegal for dogs to ride in the back of a pick-up truck "unsecured" - or mandating that they be "strapped in" somehow when they're sitting inside the vehicle.

    But is it sensible to apply human standards of safety to our four-pawed friends? And more fundamentally, is this something the government should be involved in at all?

    It's true a dog riding in the back of a pick-up could leap out to chase something he sees, such as a squirrel or maybe another dog - possibly hurting himself in the process as well as creating a potential road hazard. And a dog riding shotgun could slam into the dash in the event of a collision - and would probably be injured as a result.

    These are the main arguments trotted out in favor of mandatory canine confinement and buckle-up laws.

    But first of all, these arguments assume every dog owner is an irresponsible idiot. There is, for example, a big difference between trundling down a lightly traveled country road at 30 mph with Old Blue in the bed out back - and doing the same on a crowded highway at 70 mph. And not all dogs are idiots, either. Some know not to jump out of the bed; and their owners know they won't - which is why they can be trusted back there.

    And why the dog's owner can be trusted, moreover. (This works both ways, too. An owner who knows his dog can't be trusted typically won't put him out in the bed - no law required.)

    Then there are the practical considerations

    How, exactly, are dogs supposed to be "secured"? Will a leash wrapped around a tie-down suffice? Does it matter at all that this is apt to get the dog tangled up and maybe choked to death? If he's in the vehicle, will we be required to buckle him up as if he were human? Or are we all going to be required to cart around enormous, unwieldy dog carriers every time we take our dog for a ride - even if it's just down the road?

    Anyone who owns a dog knows they tend to move around a lot; they can't be expected to sit still - and their bodies aren't designed to work well with shoulder and lap belts designed to fit us, even if they could be persuaded to sit still. Try and wrap a squirming 85-lb. Labrador retriever in a three-point belt and see where it gets you. Often as not, he'll flail around even more frantically than he would if he were just allowed to hang out, as dogs like to do - free to stick his head out the window to enjoy the breeze.

    Whatever happened to common sense? To letting individual dog owners decide whether (or not) their dogs are ok out back? Some dogs would never jump out of a moving vehicle; some might - and some do. But the only person who really knows is that dog's owner.

    Why not let a dog's human family - instead of the government - make the decision?

    Instead, we've got a renewed cry from that relentless Greek Chorus of busybodies - the very same crowd that began with a campaign merely to "encourage" seat belt use by humans that in short order morphed into "primary enforcement" laws empowering police to pull people over and ticket them simply for failing to buckle up - that's now pushing hard for new laws that would make it a ticketable offense not to "secure" our dogs when we take them for a ride.

    Some of these professional nags even want us to stuff our friends into a cumbersome pet carrier every single time we take them for a ride.

    So much for the "Dogs love trucks" ads Nissan used to run, huh?

    That's become a politically incorrect no-no on par with Dean Martin nursing his scotch and water behind the wheel of a Ferrari 308 while dressed as a Catholic priest.

    But driving drunk is one thing; letting a dog enjoy a ride in the breeze is something qualitatively less.

    Isn't it?

    Is there "risk" involved in allowing such an unfettered mode of transport? Certainly. But there's also something called balance - and it needs to be brought back into play. The never-ending, ever-expanding campaign to eradicate risk is a crusade that cannot be won (first point) and whose stifling impact upon our ability to choose, to exercise our own judgment, to be allowed to function as adults is simply not worth the supposed gain (point two).

    Yes, there will unfortunate incidents and accidents resulting from the poor decisions made by some - whether it's dogs in the back or drinking up front. But the idiots will be among us, always - no matter what the laaaaaaaaaaw says. All you've done is throttle the rest of us with red tape and hassles that we (the not-brain-dead element) never required in the first place.

    Bottom line: You can't legislate stupidity out of existence - but you can make it more common by constantly forcing everyone down to the level of the least common denominator.


  2. #2
    Senior Member misterdecibel's Avatar
    Join Date
    Apr 2007
    Little Rock, Arkansas

    Re: Should dogs have to buckle-up, too?

    A dog safety seat? That's gonna go over well.

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