You may see it quite often as you're driving around town: dogs riding in the back of trucks. You might even know someone who does it.
Why not? It seems so convenient to just load your dog up in the back and take them with you.
According to the Humane Society of the United States, 100,000 dogs are killed each year in accidents involving riding in truck beds.
A dog riding in the back of a truck bed should never be an option due to the many potential risks and dangers. Securing a dog with a rope or chain isn’t any better, as there have been cases where dogs were thrown out of truck beds while still attached and were dragged on the road while the owner was still driving. Additionally, dogs may spontaneously jump out on their own if a squirrel or other creature catches their eye.
In addition, veterinarians see numerous cases of dogs being injured because they jumped out or were thrown from the bed of a pickup truck.
If these dogs are lucky enough to still be alive, broken legs and joint injuries are among the most common types of damage that they sustain - and often result in amputation. There are many dangers of having a four-legged friend loose in the bed of a truck.
Eye, ear and nose damage
This may not have even occurred to you, since dogs always have a tendency to stick their heads out the window of a moving vehicle to smell all of those new smells on the open road. But being in the open air traveling at high speeds (whether their head is out the window or they're in the back of the truck) can likely cause damage to the delicate parts of their face.
The swirling of the air currents in the bed of a pickup truck can cause dirt, debris and insects to become lodged in the dog's eyes, ears and nose.
Being ejected from the truck
We've all had to slam on our brakes while we're driving at some point; it's inevitable. Now imagine slamming on the brakes while your beloved dog is in the truck bed. The dog is going to get a serious jolt and it's possible that they could fly right out of the bed and into the road.
You also run the risk of getting into an accident while you're traveling with your precious cargo, which could also force the dog out of the bed. And if you think that securing a dog with a rope or chain is any better, you're wrong.
There have been cases where dogs were thrown out of the back of the truck while still attached and being dragged on the road while the owner is still driving.
Even if you don't slam on your brakes or get into an accident, your dog may have plans of her own.
Does your dog get easily distracted by squirrels, dogs or other animals? Who's to say the dog won't willingly jump out in order to better investigate a situation? How long would it take you to realize the dog is gone? How will you be able to protect the dog from getting hit by other cars or straying too far away while you're in the driver's seat?
What are the laws?
In February of 2009, Senator Norman Stone Jr.'s bill to ban riding around with dogs in truck beds was defeated on the Senate 30-17.
Although the bill was passed by the House unanimously in 2008, some Senators questioned whether or not it was a real problem. Others worried that farmers would be unable to ride with their dogs, leading to a lot of unhappy dogs.
There are, however, a number of individual states that have banned this type of pet travel and other states have bills pending.
What's the alternative?
Even though it's not against the law in all 50 states, traveling with dogs in the bed of a pickup truck should never be an option.
The Humane Society of the U.S. notes that they don't know of any brand of harness that is safe for the back of the truck. It's best, if you have to travel with your pet, to have the dog in the vehicle with you, and if it's an extended cab, the dog should be restrained in the back and away from the windshield.
For trucks, pet travel crates, pet safety belts and pet car seats are the safest bets. And if none of these are available to you at the time you're taking a truck (or any vehicle), consider keeping your dog safe at home.
TripsWithPets.com is a resource for pet travel. Named best pet travel site by Consumer Reports, TripsWithPets.com's mission is to offer resources that ensure pets are welcome, happy and safe while traveling.
The website features a directory of pet-friendly hotels and accommodations across the United States and Canada, as well as airline and car rental pet policies; pet-friendly restaurants, beaches and events; a user-friendly route search option; pet travel tips; pet travel supplies; and other resources.
Kim Salerno is the president and founder of TripsWithPets.com. She founded the pet travel site in 2003 and is an expert in the field of pet travel.