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Proposed Bill Aims to Protect Pets in the Car

UPDATE! MAY 2023

Senate Bill 932 will not move forward. As a matter of fact, did not even make it to a committee. We feel that there were certain valid issues that this bill addressed, there were several issues that could be considered to be over-reaching. This bill, along with several others did not make it into legislation. For more information on what didn’t make it- and what did- we’ve found this great update from our friends at the AKC.

 

There’s a bill that has been proposed in Tallahassee that could bring big changes on how you get Fido to the vet, the dog park- or anywhere else you take your dog in the car.

A few years back, there was a bill that was proposed that would have prevented drivers of vehicles from ‘interacting’ with a pet while operating a motor vehicle. While that bill didn’t pass (we always thought the wording was overly vague)- this bill is pretty specific in its language.

Senate Bill 932 attempts to cover several animal welfare topics in addition to the topic of transporting your pet. We’ll cover that first. Current wording of the bill states:

A Person May Not:

  • Hold a dog in his or her lap, or allow a dog to be in such a position as to interfere with the person’s control over the driving mechanism of a motor vehicle while the person is operating the motor vehicle on a public roadway.

This makes perfect sense. You should never drive with your dog in your lap- regardless of how well behaved or docile they may be.  In the event of an accident, the force of the airbag could kill your pet.

  • Ride with a dog positioned in front of him or her while the person is operating a motorcycle on a public roadway.

This goes without saying. A dog should not be on the front of a motorcycle. Common sense prevails here. Funny how this hasn’t been put into law already.

  • Allow a dog to extend its head or any other body part outside a motor vehicle window while the person is operating the motor vehicle on a public roadway.

While the current wording mentions nothing about sunroofs, we have a feeling this will be amended to include it. We know that lots of dogs love sticking their head out the window of a moving car, so this is a heartbreaker for many pets if the bill passes.

  • Transport a dog at any time on the running board, fender, hood or roof of a motor vehicle, in the trunk of a motor vehicle, or in an enclosed motor vehicle space intended for cargo.

Again, this is logical and surprising that it’s not already a law.

  • Transport a dog at any time on a trailer that is being towed by a motor vehicle.

In addition to the rules stated above, how your dog can be transported is up for debate. The law, as proposed states:

 

A dog being transported in a motor vehicle on a public roadway must be:

(a) Secured in a crate that is an appropriate size for the dog;

(b) Restrained safely with a harness or pet seat belt, other than a neck restraint, designed for use in a motor vehicle; or

(c) Under the physical control of a person other than the operator of the motor vehicle.

(3) A dog being transported in the open bed of a pickup truck must be restrained by the use of a dog crate that is:

(a) Constructed to prevent the dog from escaping;

(b) Constructed to allow the dog to have good footing, protection from inclement weather, protection from direct sunlight, and adequate ventilation;

(c) Durable and maintained in good condition;

Essentially, this is stating that your dog cannot be loose in the vehicle- at all. Either another person must be in the vehicle with control over the dog, or they need to have a harness which keeps them in one place. We’re all for keeping pets safe- but at the same time concerned about how an anxious dog is going to tolerate being strapped into one spot during a trip in the car.

Some other provisions of the proposed bill:

Cat declaws will be banned in the state of Florida unless the procedure is performed for a therapeutic benefit to the cat.

There will be major changes to the sale of rabbits within pet stores. Pet stores will not be able to sell rabbits from March 1 through April 30th. Rabbits must be kept off of the retail sales floor of any establishments, and kept one to a cage which is clearly marked ‘not for sale until May 1’.

There are lots of other items in the bill- having to do with animal cruelty, tethering, cosmetic testing- and more. To read the full proposed bill- follow this link: https://www.flsenate.gov/Session/Bill/2023/932/BillText/Filed/PDF

We’re going to keep our eyes on this one- to see what wording is changed- and whether or not this bill moves on to the Governor’s desk. We’ll keep you posted.