Love dogs. Love regulation.

House Bill 290, which passed out of the House Motor Vehicles committee last week, would make it illegal to drive a vehicle with an unrestrained animal in the back. The punishment? A $15 fine.

The bill’s sponsor, Democrat State Representative Karla Drenner, told the AJC that “The fine is not designed to be a deterrent. It is more about educating people on the potential cause of accidents.” The bill originally included all public roadways, but after considerable push back from rural legislators in Committee, was changed to only apply to state interstates.

According the Georgia DOT, animals in the roadway are the 6th leading cause of crashes in Georgia, however, the statistics do not delineate between animals that jump from vehicles and animals that are hit in the roadway.

The bill makes exceptions for:

  • animals in a crate or other secure container;
  • animals that are cross-tethered to vehicles and “encircled around the animals rib cage and shoulders;”
  • animals riding in trucks with 46 inch high side/tail racks – something opponents of the bill say will be difficult to enforce.

Probable cause, with regard to this bill, is simply the plain view of a law enforcement officer.

Now, I’m one of the biggest animal lovers you will ever find. I tense up when I see a dog riding in the back of a pickup truck and probably wouldn’t let my own dogs partake in such activities unless I was driving 5 mph in an open field, but plenty of people train their dogs (and other animals) to sit and behave while riding in the fresh air of a truck bed. Accidents sometimes happen.

The bill also isn’t clear about specifically applying to pickup trucks. The language is loose and says in vehicles in a space “intended for any load” which could potentially mean an SUV.

Another aspect that is problematic to this bill is the notion that animals are the 6th leading cause of car crashes. The state does not keep statistics on how many of those animals jumped from a truck bed at a high rate of speed and how many of those animals sprang from the wood line along a highway. Are we tugging on the right heart string?

More importantly, do we really need a law for this?

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Charlie
Charlie

Do we need a law for this? No.

Calypso
Calypso

Is a dead six-pointer still allowed to be strapped across the hood of a 1983 Buick?

The Eiger
The Eiger

Six-pointer? You should have let that poor baby walk.

Andrew C. Pope
Andrew C. Pope

So the legislature, which used to be vehemently opposed to requiring drivers in pickup trucks to wear seat belts now wants to make sure dogs are properly secured?

Fascinating.

Benevolus
Benevolus

I’m more bothered by bees and mosquitoes in my car than I am by my dog.

edatlanta
edatlanta

I mean, the state kind of does set standards for operating vehicles on roads and un-tethered do offer a not-insubstantial degree of risk to drivers and it is the state’s job to promote safe driving so philosophically yes, there is a need of some degree.

As to whether it is pressing or not, I’d probably say no.

That said when I went to GSU’s inception program my ride to school was marked with a dog jumping off the bed of a truck on 75 and it was a horrific experience.

eric
eric

You mean FGSU

chefdavid
chefdavid

With this and the adoptable dog the house passed looks the the house is succombing to the doggy lobbyist this year. We should deem this years seassion ” The year of the dogs”. Now if we could only get Hillary to bark in Georgia. These are the type of things, bigger government control, that keeps the party wondering how could Trump have so much support? Don’t preach smaller government but when in control keep passing laws that limit my life. Can you imagine the Republican outcry of this being a pro-big government law if the Dems controlled the house?

Charlie
Charlie

This is an unrelated bill/story but I believe it makes Jessica’s bigger point. I believe during the 2000 session then Minority Leader Westmoreland was getting all kinds of grief from animal right’s activist because he was opposing a bill that would have criminalized all forms of animal cruelty. The authors had good intentions but let their pens get the best of them and my memory tells me that it would have been a felony to kill or harm virtually any animal in Georgia outside of hunting. A few of the activists cornered Westmoreland in the capitol and demanded to know… Read more »

Dave Bearse
Dave Bearse

Great vignette.

Saltycracker
Saltycracker

Chevy Chase taught us all we need to know on tethered dogs:

https://m.youtube.com/watch?v=5HbBL62IiRE

Saltycracker
Saltycracker

How about we amend in women driving with a dog in their lap ?

FreeDuck
FreeDuck

I’d love to see the raw data. I would put money down that the majority of the “animal in roadway” accidents were deer, not dogs. If there were evidence that untethered dogs caused accidents, say, by stepping on the gas pedal at an inopportune moment, then maybe.

xdog
xdog

If we can mandate booster seats for children, why not for dogs? Eliminate potential canine projectiles.