Are Dogs Allowed In Truck Beds

Maria Garcia
• Monday, 07 December, 2020
• 8 min read

I was driving down a rural highway and saw a dog riding in the back of a pickup truck. Only a handful of states has laws that expressly prohibit dogs from riding unrestrained in the back of pickup trucks.

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Most state laws that address the issue make it illegal to transport a dog on a public road in the back of an open bed vehicle. This likely mean that any travel on a private road or driveway with a dog in the bed of a truck would not be outlawed in these states.

As of 2019, it appears that only six states (CA, CT, ME, MA, NH, and RI) have such laws. No person operating a pick-up truck, as defined in section 14-1, on a public highway of this state shall transport a dog in the open rearward compartment of the pick-up truck unless the dog is secured in a cage or other container or otherwise protected or secured in such a manner as to prevent the dog from being thrown or falling or jumping from the pick-up truck.

In Washington, it is unlawful to “transport any living animal on the running board, fenders, hood, or other outside part of any vehicle unless suitable harness, cage or enclosure be provided and so attached as to protect such animal from falling or being thrown therefrom.” This law deals more with strapping a live animal to outside portions of vehicles, so it is unclear in the application to open truck beds.

Oregon has a very similar law to Washington that makes it a Class D traffic violation to carry an animal in such a manner (O.R.S. Proposed 2017 amendments to this law (HE 3044) would include transport in an open truck bed in the prohibitions.

Such transport would only be legal if the truck sides were sufficiently high (like CT and CA) and the animal was secured similar to other states. In fact, some states have what can be called “cruel transport laws,” like Mississippi, New Jersey, and Oklahoma.

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Some of these laws were enacted decades ago and likely were intended to deal with the cruel transportation of farm animals. In addition to cruel transport/carrying laws, a loose animal could fall within other traffic infractions if it posed an overall danger to other drivers on the road.

I know this is a question about dogs riding in the back of trucks, but I think it’ll be helpful to also talk about humans because the same law addresses both. The Revised Code of Washington has a law titled Carrying persons or animals on outside part of vehicle.

When I was a kid in the 70s we didn’t think we were violating the law by riding or putting a dog in the pickup bed. Here’s an example to help make my point: If a pickup has a bench seat with three seatbelts and there is a driver up front along with two people in the truck bed, that would violate the law.

If there’s no prohibition for humans to ride unsecured in the back of pickups, then there isn’t one for dogs either. The Insurance Institute for Highway Safety concluded that Washington does not have a law that prohibits riding in a pickup truck bed.

I suppose you could make that argument, but in reading the full text of that law, it sure doesn’t seem like that’s what it was intended for. As much as you might think that’s what a careless dog owner deserves, I don’t think that’s what the writers of this law had in mind.

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My final answer: Regardless of whether it’s legal to have a dog (or human) unsecured in a pickup bed, it’s a bad idea. In a crash, fatality rates for humans double in the back of a truck compared to inside the cab.

UPDATE: After writing this article I emailed my locally elected state officials. The legislative assistant for Representative Buys got back to me, after having a research team look into it.

The law of which you are referring to was drafted back when riding outside the coach was a well understood phrase. When our research team looked up these laws, here are some things they found: Yes, dogs are allowed in the back of the truck if they are protected.

They can suffer injuries by flying out from an accident, jumping out, or accidentally falling or sliding out the back of an open tailgate . Each year many dogs get lost or killed when they have gotten out of the back of the truck and the owners didn’t realize that they were missing.

A hard bump can jostle a standing pet from the back and tying your dog to the pickup bed may be just as dangerous. Some dogs have been dragged along the road and terribly injured falling from a truck while still leashed to it.

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Also, dogs that ride in pickups can be exposed to tremendous amounts of dust and road grime from the open bed, which can damage their eyes or get into their nose. We all know that it is not safe (or legal in many states) for children to ride in the back of pickup trucks.

In at least 6 states it is illegal to have your dog in the back of your pickup truck without them being properly restrained. States With Specific Truck Bed Laws: At least six states (CA, CT, ME, MA, NH, and RI) have laws specifically requiring animals to be secured when being transported in an open area of a vehicle.

None of the laws require the animal to be restrained or secured if inside an enclosed part of the vehicle (Source: Rebecca F. Wish, Associate Editor, Animal Legal & Historical Center at the State of Michigan College of Law). Additionally, Ms. Wish says that “while most state laws that address the issue make it illegal to transport a dog on a public road in the back of an open bed vehicle.

This likely mean that any travel on a private road or driveway with a dog in the bed of a truck would not be outlawed in these states.” Pets Riding in Driver’s Laps Prohibited: In some states, such including Arizona, Hawaii, and Connecticut drivers may be ticketed under distracted driving laws if they drive with a dog sitting in their lap.

Likewise, in Los Angeles, a driver may be ticketed for driving at an unsafe speed if they’re caught with a dog in their lap. Laws About Transporting Dogs in the Bed of a Pickup Truck : Connecticut law prohibits transporting a dog in the “open rearward compartment of the pick-up truck on a public highway unless the dog is (1) in a cage or container or (2) secured in some manner to prevent it from being thrown, falling, or jumping from the truck (CGS § 14-272b).

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The dog does not have to be restrained if it is in a part of the vehicle that is enclosed or has side and tail racks 46 inches high. Also, the police may confiscate the dog, and the court may order its owner to pay up to $2,000 for its care (N.H. Rev.

Transporting Animals in Any Open Part of a Vehicle: Oregon law requires a dog to be protected by a carrier or other restraint if transported on “the external part of a vehicle” on a highway (Ore. Rev. This includes carrying the dog upon the hood, fender, or running board.

Rhode Island law requires animals to be “safely restrained by a harness manufactured for the purpose of restraining animals by means other than neck restraints” when transported in an open-air vehicle (R.I. Gen. Laws § 31-22-28(a)(3)). It does not require the animal to be restrained or secured if it is in an “enclosed area of the vehicle” (R.I. Gen. Laws § 31-22-28(a)(1)).

Also, interestingly, the law does not apply to livestock or a dog that is transported for a ranching or farming purpose. Space is enclosed, Space has side and tail racks at least 46 inches high, The animal is cross tethered to the vehicle, or The animal is protected by a secured container or cage (Mass.

The law seeks to prevent the animal from “being thrown, falling, or jumping from the vehicle.” A violation is punishable by a $50 fine. Transporting Animals in an Unsafe or Cruel Manner: Washington State Washington law prohibits people from transport living animals on the running board, fenders, hood or other outside parts of any vehicle unless a suitable harness, cage or enclosure protects them from falling or being thrown.

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According to the Washington State Patrol transporting an animal in an unsafe manner is left to each officer’s discretion and is a violation is punishable by a fine of up to $150, imprisonment in the county jail for up to 60 days, or both, and the driver must pay the costs of the prosecution (Wash. Rev. A violation is a misdemeanor punishable by imprisonment in county jail for up to six months, a fine of up to $1,000, or both (Nev. Rev.

Maine law dictates that a person driving a pickup truck, convertible, or other open vehicles may not transport a dog in the open portion of that vehicle on a public way unless the dog is protected in a manner that prevents the dog from falling or jumping or being thrown from the vehicle.” Additionally, drivers with pets on their laps can be charged under the existing distracted driving law. Massachusetts Dogs being transported in the bed of a truck must be properly restrained at all times.

In addition to requiring the sides and tailgate of the vehicle to reach a certain height, dogs must be secured within a crate or cage, or properly cross tethered to the vehicle to comply with the transportation law in Chapter 90, Section 22H, Safe transportation of animals. If suitable crates or other restraint is not provided, as stated in 343.24 of the 2016 Minnesota Statutes, an owner can be found guilty of a misdemeanor.

The dog does not have to be restrained if it is in a part of the vehicle that is enclosed or has side and tail racks 46 inches high. Also, the police may confiscate the dog, and the court may order its owner to pay up to $2,000 for its care (N.H. Rev.

According to the American Veterinary Medical Association, uncased dogs who ride in the beds of pickup trucks are at risk of severe injury. It is estimated that around 100,000 dogs every year are fatally injured by jumping or falling from a pickup truck’s cargo area.

In doing so, she could not only become injured by the fall but could easily be struck by oncoming vehicles (and potentially cause an accident and injuries to other drivers). In the event of a sudden stop, or if they get spooked and tries to jump out the leash could become tangled and potentially strangle them.

“any dogs have been strangled when tossed or bumped over the side of the truck and been left helplessly dangling,” the American Humane Society explained. Of course, it is always best to transport your pet in an enclosed area of a vehicle and being properly and safely restrained.

Secured Crate Also, there are now safer ways to travel with your dog in the bed of a pickup truck. Cross-Tethered Restraint If they are not in a crate, then to be in compliance with the cross-tethered requirements of many state laws, a Bushwhacker tethering system to keep the dog secured.

Avoid Unnecessary Anxiety : To avoid unnecessary stress and anxiety, work your pet up to longer trips by taking shorter treks before taking on a long expedition. Secure your pet’s crate, so it will not slide or shift in the event of an abrupt stop.

Bring food, a bowl, leash, a waste scoop, plastic bags, grooming supplies, medication and first-aid, and any travel documents. Consider purchasing a crash-tested pet safety harness for seatbelt, carrier or barrier to avoid irreversible consequences due to distractions or other mishaps.

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