Chances Are You and I Are Breaking the Law When It Comes to Our Pets and Vehicles in New England
If you're like me, you take your four-legged furry best friend almost everywhere you go. From quick errands to long road trips, the vet, or the dog park, our dogs spend lots of time with us in our cars. And especially here in New England, we're crossing state lines all of the time.
So I was surprised to learn that here in New England, sans Vermont, we actually have laws that affect how we drive around with our pets. This is according to News Orvis and Pet's That Travel, which laid out each and every state law that involves distracted driving, proper restraining, convertibles, and pet cruelty laws.
There is some ambiguity on what exactly this all means, so here's an easy-to-follow outline on what you need to know if you're in New Hampshire, Massachusetts, and Maine.
Right now, unrestrained pet laws only apply to the bed of a truck according to the News Orvis article which outlines actual law. In this case, your dog must be properly and safely restrained when he or she is traveling outside your vehicle.
And of course, there are anti-cruelty laws for animals that law enforcement can look at on a case-by-case basis when it comes to the safety of your pet, according to News Orvis.
News Orvis says distracted driving laws kick in here when it comes to your pet roaming freely in your vehicle. These laws indicate that anything or anyone that could distract or impede your driving opens you up to fines.
Dogs on your lap or in the front seat unrestrained, or jumping around in the back seat and hanging out of windows could be an issue, and police can fine you according to the News Orvis article highlighting Massachusetts law.
Meanwhile, the article also says pets riding outside of the vehicle, in the bed of a truck, for instance, must be in a crate or cage that is properly secured to the truck.
Additionally, if the police feel that your dog is being treated or traveling in a cruel and inhumane way, you can face fines if they appear in danger according to the News Orvis. This includes convertibles, as your pet could easily jump out if they aren't in a seatbelt.
Just like Massachusetts, if your pup isn't restrained inside your vehicle while you're driving, law enforcement officials technically can fine you with current distracted driving laws, and that includes any pups riding on your lap News Orvis says.
Also, if you drive a convertible, News Orvis sites law that says your dog must be in a pet seatbelt. If your doggie rides in the bed of a pickup truck, your pet must be in a crate or cage that is properly secured to the truck.
I must applaud England, Scotland, Northern Ireland, and Wales for making it law to restrain your pets when they're traveling in vehicles. I personally have a doggie seatbelt, but admit I don't always use it for my pup. I think I'm going to get back into the habit for his safety.