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Summer, Road Trips, & Pets

Driving around with our family pet in cars is something that people and their four-legged friends have been doing for years. Seeing a happy dog with its tongue hanging out of the side of its mouth while taking in all the fresh air from the open window is a sight that is commonly seen- especially in Florida. However, the heat can be suffocating in closed cars for not only animals but also people. Having the window open truly saves everyone from any problems that can occur because of heat related injuries. While the idea is correct (especially if the car is parked), the action can sometimes be seen as distracting for other drivers and for the owner themselves. Thus, it may lead to injuries sustained from the forceful wind.

In a 2010 survey by AAA, 20% of participants admitted to letting their dog sit on their lap while driving. An overwhelming 31% said they were distracted by their dog while driving says Raymond Martinez, chairman of New Jersey’s Motor Vehicle Commission. Even more pressing are the dogs and cats that are too anxious to stay still while the car is in motion. Col. Frank Rizzo, superintendent of the New Jersey Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals was quoted saying, “what people come to realize only too late is that animals act like flying missiles in an impact and can not only hurt themselves but hurt their human family members too.”

Only a couple of states have passed legislation requiring animals to be restrained in moving vehicles like kids or other people in the car. Some states only have laws requiring restraints to an animal riding in a motor vehicle, only when they are riding in the exterior of a vehicle, such as a pickup [1].

In Florida, the only county to have such legislation is Miami-Dade County. Although there’s no specific statewide law for the protection of animals in a moving vehicle, there are still some actions that can be penalized for violating animal cruelty laws. A person may be charged with animal cruelty for transporting an animal in a vehicle in an inhumane manner. Depending on jurisdiction, anyone convicted under the state law against animal cruelty faces a first-degree misdemeanor, possible jail time and a $5,000 fine. A good lawyer can plead a case of animal cruelty if an animal is left in a heated car or unrestrained and distracting to other drivers. So how can you protect yourself and your furry friends?

Easy Ways To Protect Your Pets

  • The Right Car: It’s always good to have the right motor vehicle when transporting pets. The right car, SUV or minivan can be the reliable vessel for giving an animal the correct amount of room to sprawl or lay down. Having a hatchback or small wagon is great for smaller pets. It allows them to roam around. SUVs and minivans are good for larger breeds so that they can get in and out easily as well as having enough room in the cargo area to relax. These vehicles may also come equipped with plastic barriers to protect the car’s fabric.
  • The Right Restraints: Many companies make traveling items for pets to have a safe experience. There are pet barriers that keep pets contained behind a rear seat or in the cargo area. There are harnesses/restraints that keep pets sitting or down comfortably while also acting as an animal seatbelt in case of a car accident. There are also cargo liners that help to make the cleanup easier after a long trip. Having your pet bed in the back can also encourage animals to sleep while on the road. Buying a loading ramp for smaller or older dogs can also make sure that your pet is getting in and out of the car easily.
  • The Right Plan: Make sure that while it may be fun for your bed to be on your lap while traveling short distances, it can be very distracting to not only yourself but other drivers on the road. It can also injure your pet’s eyes, ears and head. When traveling long distances, make sure you check on your pet and let them take a break every so often to relax. NEVER leave your pet in the car and always put them on a leash when leaving the vehicle [2].

Taking the right precautions when traveling with pets can help save a lot of stress and heartache for not only you but also the other drivers on the road. By keeping the traveling tips in mind, you can easily have your furry friends safely make it from one place to another. Although it may be fun for your animal to stick their heads out of the window and not restrained, the bigger problem is that if by chance there is a distracted driver from Buddy hanging his head out of the window, an accident can occur, leaving you liable and a possible injured family pet.

Dolman Law Group

However, if you are injured in an auto accident because an animal is taking up the attention of a driver; you may be entitled to compensation. Drivers already have many other things that can distract their attention off the road. Adding an animal to the situation can only do more harm than good. Contact the lawyers at Dolman Law Group for a free consultation and evaluation of your claim. Call (727) 451-6900 today.

Dolman Law Group
800 North Belcher Road
Clearwater, FL 33765
727-451-6900

https://www.dolmanlaw.com/legal-services/auto-accidents-attorneys/

References:

[1] http://usatoday30.usatoday.com/news/nation/story/2012-06-04/vehicle-pet-restraint-laws/55384736/1
[2] http://www.americanhumane.org/animals/adoption-pet-care/caring-for-your-pet/tips-for-driving-with-your-pets.html