If a New Jersey legislator gets her way, the Garden State will have the toughest seat belt laws in the country…for dogs.
Democratic New Jersey Assemblywoman Grace Spencer has proposed a bill that would give law enforcement the authority to issue a a $20 ticket to anyone caught driving around with their dog unharnessed. Additionally, the offender could be hit with animal cruelty charges.
Cats also are included in Spencer’s bill.
Requiring animals to wear seat belts may make about as much sense as “kitten mittons” (see video below), but there is some logic behind it (none of which was used by Spencer in explaining her bill).
Spencer’s reason for forcing drivers to buckle up their pets stems from a class she visited at a Newark Charter School, where a veterinarian told her about a dog whose leg was broken after its owner made a sudden stop, according to the Newark Star-Ledger.
One dog’s broken leg is hardly a reason for a taxpayer funded argument over seat belts for pets — which Spencer’s bill already has become (Republicans oppose the bill and have proposed their own bill to counter it).
However, dogs can act as a “backseat bullet” if not buckled up during a car wreck.
See an example of a “backseat bullet” — which was part of a British PSA campaign — below:
The problem, however, is that anything — a bag of groceries, a heavy purse, for example — can be a “backseat bullet,” so until Spencer wants to start buckling up inanimate objects, a seat belt law for dogs will do nothing to solve what could be perceived as an actual problem.
Again, though, Spencer’s reason for the law is one dog who broke his leg, not the possibility of people getting crushed to death by a canine projectile. And even the ASPCA doesn’t recognize animals not being buckled up as a serious problem worthy of legislation.
From the Star-Ledger:
But Tim Martin, a spokesman for the New Jersey SPCA, called the
remark an “unscripted moment” and said the group, which is allowed to
enforce animal protection laws, does not target drivers who leave their
pets unbuckled. “The point we were trying to make is having Spot on your
lap while you’re driving is dangerous to both you and the animal,” he
Martin said over the last six years his group investigated 21 cases
of animals allegedly being transported in an unsafe way, about a quarter
of which resulted in fines. But he noted these were for extreme cases,
such as a dog riding on a motorcycle’s gas tank. He wouldn’t comment on
Spencer’s bill but said the group does not view unbelted dogs and cats
as animal cruelty.
And now, without further ado, “Kitten Mittons”:
This article from the Village Voice Archive was posted on August 16, 2012