Dog Vehicle Safety Laws

It's illegal to allow your dog to roam free in the back of your pickup truck in several trucks. These safety laws are designed to keep dogs from jumping, falling or being thrown out of vehicles.


Restraint Laws

At least eight states have laws requiring owners to kennel or tether dogs or other animals that ride in a vehicle's open areas, usually a truck bed, according to the Connecticut General Assembly. As of 2009, states with restraint laws include Connecticut, California, New Hampshire, Massachusetts, Nevada, Washington, Oregon and Rhode Island. Fines range from $50 to $200.


Some exceptions to the law include dogs being transported for agricultural work or dogs used in hunting. California allows dogs to ride in the open if the vehicle's sides are at least 46 inches high.

Inside Vehicles

Several state legislatures have considered bills requiring dogs to be restrained inside a vehicle, but they have not passed. Proponents say loose dogs can distract drivers and cause accidents that injure or kill people and pets.

Anti-cruelty Laws

Most states and many local governments have anti-cruelty laws that punish dog owners who leave their dogs in parked cars on hot days or without adequate water or ventilation.

Lap-Dog Bill

In 2008, California Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger vetoed a bill that would have banned drivers from holding dogs or other animals in their laps. The Society for Prevention of Cruelty to Animals had backed the so-called "Paris Hilton Bill."

By Cameron Delaney

About the Author
Cameron Delaney is a freelance writer for trade journals and websites and an editor of nonfiction books. As a journalist, Delaney worked for wire services, newspapers and magazines for more than 20 years. Delaney's degrees include a bachelor's degree in journalism from Pennsylvania State and a master's degree in liberal arts from University of Denver.