Dogs who are riding in the backs of pickup of trucks may look like they're having fun. Noses testing the wind and ears flopping, they seem to be enjoying the trip -- and they get to go places with their owners. But when you transport your dog in the back of your pickup, you endanger both your dog and other motorists.
If your truck hits a bump or swerves to avoid an obstacle or if you step on the brakes suddenly, a dog riding in the truck bed can easily be thrown onto the road. (Tying your dog into the truck bed is not a safe option: ropes and leashes become nooses when a dog is jolted into the air.) If being hurled onto the street doesn't injure or kill your dog, being struck by another vehicle probably will. And in trying not to hit a fallen dog, another driver may cause an accident.
Your dog isn't necessarily safe even if he/she does manage to stay in the back of your truck: the air that rushes in your dog's face carries dirt and debris, such as gravel, that can lodge in ears, eyes, or nose and cause serious damage.
Many dogs would rather relax in the comfort and safety of home than go for a ride. If you must take your dog along for the ride, have him/her ride in the cab with you. Secure your dog using a special dog harness -- in some states it's the law. Contact your local pet-supply store to locate a harness that is appropriate for your dog. The trip will be more enjoyable for both of you if you make sure that your dog will be safe and sound on arrival.
There are other simple things that you can do to keep your dog safe if it is necessary to take him/her on a car trip. For instance, be sure that your dog is never left in a car unattended -- even for a few minutes. And have your dog wear two ID tags -- one with a home address and one with a destination address.
For more information about pet safety and responsible pet care, write to the Companion Animals Section, The Humane Society of the United States, 2100 L St., NW, Washington, DC 20037.
The Humane Society of the United States