These days almost everyone who owns dogs, travel with their dogs in the car, I know my fur babies go almost everywhere in the car with me.
It used to be that when my babies were in the car with just me, the windows would go down just enough for their heads to stick out so they could feel the wind. When they went with my husband, on the other hand, they weren’t allowed to do so, of course, I asked my husband why and he told me he was pretty sure it is against the law.
Of course, I said no way, realizing that I actually did not know what Dog Car Laws even exist.
Please keep in mind that every state and even county will or won’t have their own laws, making it difficult for one person to research and find all of the current and accurate Dog Car Laws.
I live in the state of Washington, Grant County so I have checked for my state and county and have found little about Dog Car Laws in other states.
That being said some times we are unaware of the danger we are putting our fur babies in, and an educated Dog Mom is a better Dog Mom.
We are going to cover the Dog Car Laws along with the danger our fur babies are in when we don’t follow the Dog Car Laws, When we are done you will have the information you need to decide for yourself , what is safest for your fur babies, with or without Dog Car Laws.
Can My Dog Ride On My Lap?
In some states you can because as of today there is no federal law against it but that’s not to say it is legal everywhere you go.
In North Dakota, your pet can legally ride on your lap or unrestrained but if you simply cross the Red River to the Minnesota side it is illegal to have your dog in your lap while you drive.
This is America so if it’s not a law in your state, county, or town then you are free to choose where your pooch sits and whether or not they are harnessed in.
Please keep in mind that if your airbags get deployed and your fur baby is in the front seat or on your lap they can get severely injured.
The other thing to consider is if your pooch isn’t restrained they very possibly may end up distracting you and causing an accident potentially injuring you, your fur baby, or even worse possibly hurt other people.
Is It Illegal For Dogs To Ride In A Car?
No, there is not any state with Dog Car Laws where it is illegal for a dog to ride in a car. However, there are states that have Dog Car Laws that require dogs to be restrained in the car and if they aren’t restrained it would be illegal.
- New Jersey
- New Hampshire
- Rhode Island
So if you find yourself in any of the 8 states listed above, be sure your fur baby has a seat belt on or you will be breaking the Dog Car Laws in that state.
There are a few states that are ambiguous meaning they have some implication in their laws that suggests you shouldn’t have your pooch riding in the car unless restrained but there are no actual Dog Car Laws specific enough for you to be sited for not having them restrained.
- North Dakota
- South Carolina
The 13 states we just named may not have any Dog Car Laws in place to force restraining your dog in the car but do have a no distractions while driving law and could see your unrestrained pooch as a distraction and site you for that.
They may also have an animal abuse law and if they determine your pet was in danger of any kind you may be sited for that.
The remaining states do not have any Dog Car Laws in place leaving it completely your choice to restrain or not.
Why Should I Restrain My Dog In The Car?
Whether or not your state has any Dog Car Laws that require your pet to be restrained, having them restrained is the only way to assure everyone’s safety, not only you and your passengers but anyone traveling on the same road as you.
If you were to get in an accident and your pet isn’t restrained they could be easily injured being thrown about the car or possibly thrown from the vehicle.
Although we may not admit it when our pets are free to move about our vehicle at some point they end up being a distraction of some sort.
Maybe they are perfect angels and arent a distraction we never know what can happen on the road to cause an accident and if your pooch isn’t restrained and somehow you end up in an accident it’s very likely they will be thrown about the car and likely be hurt.
Is It Illegal To Leave My Dog In The Car For Just 10 Minutes?
If the conditions inside the vehicle or in an enclosed area are a danger to your dog’s health/life, be it too hot or too cold of course it is illegal. Even if your state doesn’t have any specific Dog Car Laws about leaving a dog in an unattended vehicle, every state has animal cruelty laws.
If at any time you are knowingly putting your fur baby in a situation that endangers the life of your pooch and they are unable to escape the danger, it is illegal in every state.
It is considered animal cruelty and as i said before, animal cruelty is illegal to some degree in every state, depending on the state and situation charges can range from a citation to a felony and rightfully so.
What If I See A Distressed Dog Left In A Car?
Well depending on the state you are in, most states require that if a forced entry is required to rescue an animal, it is illegal for a private citizen to do so.
In which case immediately call your local law enforcement, fire rescue, authorized humane officers, or first responders to come force entry and rescue the distressed animal. If you force entry you can face charges for destruction of property.
For me personally if I were to see an animal in distress I would first call the authorities, then check to see if by some chance the doors weren’t locked, finally if I was sure the animal’s life was in immediate danger I would likely take the chance of facing charges for property damage,
If I saved an innocent animals life the charges would be worth it, even though I would potentially end up having a criminal record as a result, I wouldn’t be able to let an animal die when I could have stopped it.
Although most states require authorities to legally force entry, there are 15 states in which any person can force entry to save a distressed animal. The 15 states that I am aware of it being legal in are in no particular order,
The above-named states may require the rescuer or potential rescuer to take certain steps before a forced entry is made. In the state of Indiana, the rescuer that forced entry to save an animal is required to pay half of the property damages.
Some states may require a note left informing them of the safe location of the animal or require them to wait for law enforcement to arrive on the scene before leaving.
My Final Thought On These Dog Car Laws
In any case check your specific state for specific Dog Car Laws because, just like any other broken law, ignorance is no excuse.
Just because your state doesn’t have these Dog Car Laws doesn’t mean that your city or county doesn’t have them in place.
I personally take my fur babies almost everywhere I go, if I do happen to stop someplace they aren’t welcome, which is rare, I the find the closest shaded spot to park in, the sun shield is put in the window, the car and air conditioning are both left on, and I’m in and out as fast as possible,10 minutes at most.
Even though you have left the car and air conditioning on your car could, although not likely, for any number of unforeseeable reasons stop running leaving your fur baby in a very dangerous situation, so never leave them for more than 10 minutes or so without checking to make sure they are safe and comfortable.
Dog Car Laws are being created in more states and cities all of the time. If you want your pet to be safe at all times like I do then it doesn’t really matter if any Dog Car Laws are enforced in your state because you’re already doing these things out of love for your pooch.
I don’t have children so my dogs are very precious to me so Dog Car Laws or not if there is a way to help keep them safe then I’m all for it.