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OLR Research Report


May 14, 2009

 

2009-R-0203

LAWS ON SECURING ANIMALS BEING TRANSPORTED IN A VEHICLE

By: Jillian L. Redding, Legislative Fellow

You asked whether any states have laws requiring dogs to be secured when riding in vehicles.

SUMMARY

At least eight states have laws specifically requiring animals to be secured when being transported in an open area of a vehicle. In some cases, the laws apply only to dogs. None of the laws require the animal to be restrained or secured if inside an enclosed part of the vehicle.

Connecticut, New Hampshire, Oregon, and Rhode Island require a dog to be secured or restrained when being transported on some part of the exterior of the vehicle, such as a pick up truck bed. California and Massachusetts require all animals to be restrained or contained when being transported on a load-bearing part of the vehicle, unless the space is enclosed. The laws in Nevada and Washington focus on safety and cruelty to animals, making it a misdemeanor to transport an animal in a vehicle (1) in a cruel or inhuman [sic] manner in Nevada, or (2) in a manner that will jeopardize the safety of the animal or the public in Washington.

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). A violation is punishable by a fine of up to $50 (CGS 14-296). The law does not require the dog to be restrained or secured if it is inside the vehicle.

New Hampshire law requires dogs to be (1) cross tethered to the vehicle; (2) in a secured container; or (3) otherwise protected, if in the back of a vehicle on a public road (N.H. Rev. Stat. 644:8-f). 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. The law does not apply to (1) a dog being used by a farmer engaging in farm activities requiring the services of a dog or (2) a hunting dog being used at a hunting site or between hunting sites by a licensed hunter engaged in lawful hunting. A first violation is a misdemeanor; a subsequent violation is a class B felony (N.H. Rev. Stat. 644:8(III)(d)). 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. Stat. 644:8(IV)).

TRANSPORTING ANIMALS IN THE 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. Stat. 811.200(1)). This includes carrying the dog upon the hood, fender, or running board. The statute seeks to prevent the animal from “falling from the vehicle.” A violation is a class D traffic violation punishable by a $90 fine (Ore. Rev. Stat. 153.018(2)(d)).

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)). The law does not define open air vehicle. 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)). Further, the animal does not have to be restrained or secured if it is “under the physical control of a person other than the operator of the vehicle.” A violation is punishable by a fine of up to $50 for the first offense and up to $200 for each subsequent offense.

TRANSPORTING ANIMALS ON A LOAD-BEARING PART OF A VEHICLE

California requires any animal transported in the back of a vehicle “in a space intended for any load” on the highways to be either (1) cross tethered to the vehicle or (2) protected by a secured container or cage, to prevent the animal from falling, jumping, or being thrown from the vehicle (Cal. Vehicle Code 23117). The animal does not have to be restrained if it is in an enclosed space in the vehicle or in a vehicle that has side and tail racks at least 46 inches high. The law does not apply to livestock or a dog that is transported for a ranching or farming purpose. A violation is punishable by a fine of $50 to $100 for the first offense and $75 to $200 for a subsequent offense if it occurs within one year of the prior infraction (Cal. Vehicle Code 42001.4).

Massachusetts prohibits transporting animals in a space intended for a load on the vehicle on a public way unless:

1. the space is enclosed,

2. the space has side and tail racks at least 46 inches high,

3. the animal is cross tethered to the vehicle, or

4. the animal is protected by a secured container or cage (Mass. Gen. Laws ch. 90 22H).

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 prohibits transporting animals in any manner that will jeopardize the safety of the animal or the public. A violation is a misdemeanor (Wash. Rev. Code 16.52.080). According to Trooper Chatterton of the Washington State Patrol, there are no police guidelines to determine what constitutes an unsafe manner of transporting the animal. It is left to the officer's discretion. 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. Code 16.52.165).

Nevada law prohibits carrying an animal in a vehicle in a “cruel or inhuman [sic] manner” (Nev. Rev. Stat. 574.190). 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. Stat. 193.150). Further, the animal may be impounded, and the owner must pay for its care while in custody (Nev. Rev. Stat. 574.055).

According to Sergeant Chris Brandt, Nevada Highway Patrol, it is up to the officer to determine if the animal is being treated in an inhumane or cruel manner. Further, he believes that this is usually enforced for the transporting of livestock. According to Dave March, supervisor of Clark County Animal Control, this statute was last enforced more than 15 years ago when a police officer stopped a vehicle and discovered fighting roosters in the back. The roosters were in wooden crates with no ventilation, and such transporting was deemed to be cruel. The roosters were impounded and the driver was charged with a traffic infraction.

JLR:ak