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.



Truck and Dog Owner

I agree. In addition, most people tie down their dogs to prevent them from jumping. I know I do, and from the ground you can't tell because it just looks like she has two collars on... She wouldn't even try jumping, but I happen to be responsible enough not to even give her that option.


I agree as well. Just because you have a well behave dog, it doesn't mean the dog is not going to panick and act on their natural instinct


Not so. It is unsafe and cruel to the animal. Anyone putting a dog in the back of a pickup truck and driving on roads and highways is a certified moron.


@indyana66...I can tell your children are going to be total wussies, as you are.


Really? Maybe you don't mind traumatizing your children but I can tell you that watching a dog fall out moving vehicle and getting hit by on coming traffic is a traumatic experience for ANYONE. I've seen it happen. It doesn't make you a wussy. It just means you have enough concern for another living being.

Obviously kids have to learn about life and death, and there are age appropriate ways to explain that to children, but I feel that kids seeing a dog killed in a way such as that because of circumstances that could have been prevented is too traumatic. Surely a 1 or 2 year old may not remember it at all, but a child 4,5,6 + is old enough to know what a dog is, probably has a dog, and may become traumatized by the sight of seeing something like that.


I saw more than a couple dogs get run over and it didnt hurt me one bit. Heck, I was getting off the school bus one time and the departing bus ran over a big old bassett hound mix dog right in front of me. He rolled,tumbled, smashed in front of the rear tires for a good 50-60 ft before they went over him. I was six, didnt bothe me too much then and sure doesnt now.


Do you need a website to tell others how strong you are? "Look mom, i'm being all tough and everything on a message board". So you don't care when living things die around you, good for you. Some people think that animals aren't toys you easily get rid of... you don't like it? Fine but go tell that to people on "".


I can't stand it when people are that nonchalant about living beings. I've seen a dog hit by on coming traffic. Obviously going 70 mph there's nothing a can do but if I saw an animal being abused or in a situation where it is injured or about to be killed....I would do everything I could to try and stop it.

For someone to even brag about the fact that they witnessed multiple dogs killed and wasn't bothered by it shows me that he has little compassion for life. Sad. I feel sorry for his animals and his kids.


Brittany, I believe what he suffers from is called a psychopath. Not normal behavior, obviously like Jeffrey Dahmer. This guy is either trying to get someone upset or he is a danger to society.


That's because you are not human.