Cruelty Alert: Dogs in Pickup Trucks

Thursday, September 22, 2011 - 11:15am

A few years ago, Julien Roohani of Portland, Oregon, was at work when her roommates spontaneously decided to go on a hike. Not wanting to exclude Julien’s six-month-old Shepherd/Border Collie mix, Niña, they threw her into the back of their pickup truck and set off for an adventure.

Niña had never been in a truck bed before. Whether she was scared or just spotted something of interest, she managed to jump out during the drive. Panicking, the roommates called Julien, who rushed Niña to an emergency veterinary clinic where she was diagnosed with a broken spine and other severe injuries. Julien had no choice but to allow her young pup to be humanely euthanized.

Unfortunately, stories like Niña’s are all too common. It is never safe to drive with an unrestrained pet—especially with that pet in an open truck bed.

“When you drive with a loose dog in the back of your truck, you’re taking a huge risk and placing your dog and other motorists in danger,” says Chuck Mai, a vice president with AAA Oklahoma. “Even if a dog is trained, we’re talking about an animal who responds to stimuli on impulse. This irresponsible decision can start a deadly chain reaction on the road.”

Is It Legal?
Transporting unrestrained dogs in low-sided truck beds has been banned in a handful of states, including California and New Hampshire, and municipalities including Indianapolis, Cheyenne and Miami-Dade. However, in the vast majority of jurisdictions, it’s not even illegal to transport children in this manner, so we must rely on common sense and education to protect children and pets alike.

How You Can Help
One can feel terribly helpless witnessing a loose dog in a pickup truck. The best course of action is to try to get the vehicle’s license number (if you can do so while remaining safe) and call the local police. Rather than dialing 911, Jill Buckley, ASPCA Senior Director of Government Relations, suggests storing your police precinct’s phone number in your cell phone.

For more tips on how to travel safely with your pet, please visit our Virtual Behaviorist.



Kathryn Krone

I witnessed this here in the Hamptons and reported the owner - who jumped out of the car and threatened me when I took his picture with my phone - and the police said it was no big deal. That dog was flailing around in the back of the truck, I know no good will come to him. I have the person's license plate number. Is there anything else I can do?


Mind your own business?


Second that recommendation.


Wow Whitney and Boyd. You are true scum of the earth. Pray that you don't ever meet me.


How does this make them "scum of the earth"? I have a dog myself and I understand the concern for their safety. But your over-reaction is completely emotional. I agree, mind your own business in this circumstance. It's not your dog, not your responsibility and not your business unless you can show that the dog is in imminent danger which was not the case.


Uuh, no one who's lost dogs to this act ever thought their dogs were in imminent danger. Think about that.


Well it's also based on common sense if your dog is over reactive to every thing then no do not put it in the truck bed but if it is a calmer dog who you know can handle it then by all means. And it's also like having a human child if you saw somebody's kid swimming in a swimming pool by them selves yes there have been children who drown its a sad fact but are you going to report that parent for letting their child swim unaccompanied when the child seems to be doing fine on there own?


Okay, all of you are jerks. Just saying. Some people have their own opinions. So mind YOUR own business. Some people love animals, some don't care much. So just stick your nose somewhere else. I belive everyone with bad comments are all "bad scums in the whole world". So go sniff someothers butt.


Really, just turn your head when you know the dog is in danger. Hope you don't have pets.


You're the kind of person no one needs.

'The greatness of a nation and its moral progress can be judged by the way its animals are treated.'