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.


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

francisco vazquez



I witnessed a dog riding in the back of a pickup truck; at time the dog looked like it was going to fall out. It hovered back and forth over the sides of the truck. After tweeting the video and photos I shot to a local news anchor in Charlotte, NC, she suggest I call animal control. I took her advice. Unfortunetly, I live in an area where dogs riding in back of trucks are not a concern. I was told that I had nothing "cruel" to report. My theory is that the animal control supervisor probably does the same thing and or his jelly donuts and coffee were simply more important.


You must live in the same area of outskirts of Charlotte that I do that don't give a damn about Animal welfare. It is cruel for an animal to be thrown around in the back of a pickup truck. It is dangerous to their eyes from debris flying around, and if it is hot out, the metal in the truck bed is burning hot on their paws.