leash for truck bed

California Car and Truck Pet Laws

The California Department of Motor Vehicles writes:

A loose pet in a moving vehicle can be very dangerous. Properly secure your pet in a pet carrier, portable kennel, or specially designed pet harness when you are driving. Never allow your pet to sit in your lap while you are driving your vehicle. CA DMV Driver Distractions

Read on for more information on California laws about pets in cars and trucks.

We offer two popular means of securing pets in your vehicle, whether pickup truck or enclosed passenger car.

Securing Dog in Pickup Truck

dog leash for truck bed
Pick Up Pal secures one or two dogs

Pickup Pal is a cross–tie truck attachment designed to keep your dog in your truck bed, out of harm’s way. Combined with a leash extension and a dog harness (instead of a dog collar), you have a complete system for your dog’s safety in the back of your open bed pickup truck.

Pet Vehicle Laws Overview

Here is an overview of vehicle laws about pets in vehicles.

  1. Parked Vehicles

    Most laws about pets in vehicles pertain to leaving them in parked cars. Cars heat up quickly, even in relatively mild weather. With rising temperatures and improper ventilation, your dog can die within minutes. Owners or guardians can be punished for leaving pets in parked vehicles under laws specific to the situation or under laws addressing cruelty to animals.

  2. Pickup Trucks

    Transporting your dog in the bed of a pickup truck is dangerous. The animal is at risk of being hit by a flying object, incurring an eye injury, jumping or being thrown from your moving vehicle. Any of these eventualities will seriously injure or kill your pet and may cause a traffic accident. In California, Oregon, Minnesota, Connecticut, Massachusetts, New Hampshire and Rhode Island, pet guardians are often required to have pets caged or cross-tied in open pick-up truck beds. Nevada bans cruel and inhumane methods of transporting dogs. Washington bans dog transportation methods that pose a risk to public safety, but these methods are open to interpretation.

  3. Distracted Driving

    Several states, including Hawaii, Arizona, Connecticut and Maine ban driving with your pet on your lap. Rhode Island has proposed a similar measure. In New Jersey improper pet transportation is a citable offense, but the interpretation is left up to traffic officers. For your dog's safety, your safety and the safety of other drivers, you should not allow your pet to ride in the front seat regardless of your state's laws. If you have to make a sudden stop, your dog can be thrown through the windshield. There is the risk of your pet climbing into the driver's seat and interfering with your driving, and she could also be thrown to the floor and interfere with your access to gas and brake pedals. Airbags pose an additional risk to pets. When an airbag deploys, it has enough force to injure or kill a dog.

  4. Loading and Unloading Pets

    While there are no laws which directly address loading and unloading your pet from a vehicle, pay attention to safety. Many animals are lost at these times. Keep a firm grip on your pet's leash. Ensure that the pet has current identification tags secured on a collar that won’t come off. Include on the ID tag a telephone number at which you are easily reached, such as your cell phone number.

  5. Pet Restraints

    Laws do not require pet restraint inside a vehicle, but rather, preclude driving with your pet on your lap or allowing pets to hang out of windows. Simply put, unrestrained pets can interfere with driving, so smart owners do employ some manner of restraint. Dogs become hazardous projectiles in an accident, could go through the windshield, or attack first responders whose job it may be to pull you out of wreckage. Some harnesses can double as seat belts for dogs, or have seat belt attachments. A pet barrier across the back seat of your vehicle is another option, or you can place your dog in a crate. Holly Chavez writes more about pet restraints and dog owner responsibility.

  6. Windows

    Keep windows sufficiently closed that your dog can’t squeeze through. Dogs can squeeze through much smaller spaces than you may expect and are likely to attempt to do so — even from a moving vehicle. Don’t let your dog ride with its head hanging out the window. Flying objects can cause not only eye injury but also severe trauma or death.

  7. Travel Prepared

    Before departure, check that you have anticipated your dog’s needs. Have you packed a bowl and water, for instance? Ice cubes melt and can provide water for your pet. When traveling longer distances, pack first aid and clean–up supplies. Consider medications your dog may need, a supply of regular food, and veterinary records, including rabies vaccination certificate.

Adapted from Laws About Dogs in Cars on ehow.com

Carrying Dog in Truck

California vehicle code pertaining to unrestrained carriage of dog in back of truck makes narrow allowance for agricultural situations. Otherwise, in all other situations when dogs are carried in back of truck, such dogs must be restrained. This is for the dog’s protection as well as for other drivers’ protection.

V.C. Section 23117, Carrying Animal in Motor Truck

23117. (a) No person driving a motor vehicle shall transport any animal in the back of the vehicle in a space intended for any load on the vehicle on a highway unless the space is enclosed or has side and tail racks to a height of at least 46 inches extending vertically from the floor, the vehicle has installed means of preventing the animal from being discharged, or the animal is cross tethered to the vehicle, or is protected by a secured container or cage, in a manner which will prevent the animal from being thrown, falling, or jumping from the vehicle.

(b) This section does not apply to any of the following:

(1) The transportation of livestock.

(2) The transportation of a dog whose owner either owns or is employed by a ranching or farming operation who is traveling on a road in a rural area or who is traveling to and from a livestock auction.

(3) The transportation of a dog for purposes associated with ranching or farming.

Added Ch. 224, Stats. 1987. Effective January 1, 1988.
CA DMV Vehicle Code - Carrying Animal in Motor Truck
California Car and Truck Pet Laws was last modified by Happy Tails

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