Jersey dogs: Buckle up or face stiff fines
And the fine for an unrestrained dog — unlike the $46 one for an unbuckled human — can cost you up to $1,000.
Because it’s considered animal cruelty under state law, penalties for transporting your dog without a restraint range from $250 to $1,000 and as much as six months in jail.
“That’s for each offense,” Col. Frank Rizzo, the police superintendent for the New Jersey SPCA, told reporters this week. “So, if you have more than one animal loose in your car, just do the math.”
Rizzo and representatives from the state the Motor Vehicle Commission briefed reporters about the law as New Jersey entered the initial phase of its “Click It or Ticket” campaign, at the outset of which police in 23 Bergen and Passaic county towns issued 359 tickets for back-seat violations — none of them involving dogs.
While some reports are calling the doggie seat belt mandate a new law, the Bergen Record’s Road Warrior column reports that leaving your dog unrestrained in the back seat of your car violates state statute 4:22:18, which is 16 years old.
(An unbuckled adult human in the back seat only became illegal in New Jersey three years ago.)
Rizzo said the high fines will help people become aware of the dangers of dogs traveling in cars unrestrained. “Some people tell us they like to let their pets hang their heads out the window to take in the fresh air, but dogs and cats become projectiles in a crash,” Rizzo said.
“It’s much cheaper to invest about $25 in a restraint system than to deal with the consequences of a crash,” said MVC Chief Administrator Ray Martinez, who used his own golden retriever-poodle mix to show reporters how to harness a dog into a back seat.
Patch.com, in an unscientific online poll, was finding little support for mandating dog restraints, and found few police officers interested in enforcing it.
“Seriously, the best part of my day is hitting the road with my dog sitting right beside me in my truck.” said one veteran officer said who asked not to be identified.
Another thought the law was intrusive, and its penalties too severe.
We welcome your thoughts on this topic (and everything else, too, of course), and we’ll share our own, bearing in mind I only started wearing my seat belt about six years ago, when I bought a new car, and only to stop the eternal dinging that resulted when I didn’t put it on.
Ace doesn’t wear a seat belt or restraint. At 130 pounds, he travels loose in the folded down back seat, sometimes with his head resting on the console between the front seats. He does from time to time stick his head out the back window, though I discourage it on Interstate highways.
Having recently completed a year-long, 27,000 mile road trip with him, I can’t imagine what that would have been like for him if he had been strapped down the whole time.
Our trip was all about being free and liberated — for a year at least — and while I’m probably over-protective of him in most ways, this is a step that, while it’s becoming more and more politically correct, I don’t see taking.
Until authorities show up at my door, or pull me over in New Jersey, Ace rides free.
Posted by jwoestendiek June 6th, 2012 under Muttsblog.
Tags: ace, animals, buckle up, click it or ticket, crackdown, dog seat belts, dogs, enforcement, humans, law, new jersey, pets, restraints, safety, seat belts, spca, travel, travels with ace