Blog Hop Pet Health

Is the Ride Worth the Danger?

This post is part of the Pet Blogger Awareness Day Blog Hop for Pet Travel Safety organized in the Dog Bloggers Google Plus Group.torri

The Danger for Dogs Riding in the Back of a Pickup Truck

Torri was only 9 months old when her owners put her in the back of their truck. They weren’t speeding, but when they went to make a turn,  she didn’t make the turn with them. She ended up flying out of the truck and breaking her leg. Unfortunately, they couldn’t afford to get her leg repaired and were ready to euthanize her when the vet offered to take her and find her a home. I ended up being that home. I wasn’t really in a place where I could have a dog, but I really wanted one and Torri was such a sweetheart I couldn’t resist. I ended up moving just so I could take her.

Torri’s injury wasn’t one where she was hurt, got fixed up and was as good as new. It affected her for the rest of her life. She was never able to bend her leg again, which caused problems later on when she jumped up and broke the bones in her lower leg when she landed. She couldn’t sit right, She couldn’t walk right. She developed arthritis early in the leg. But she was still lucky.

It looks like something dogs would enjoy, riding in the back of a pick-up truck, head in the wind, happily anticipating where the trip will end. But for many dogs that trip ends in injury, for some it ends in death.

The Massachusetts SPCA did a study in 1998 which found about 600 dogs were injured after being thrown from the back of a pick-up truck during one year. Multiple that by 50 states and that’s a lot of dogs getting hurt. And the number doesn’t include the ones who are killed.

What seems like fun is dangerous in so many ways for dogs.

  1. Flying debris could hit your dog and cause injuries.
  2. Dogs are exposed to the elements including extreme temperatures.
  3. Dogs aren’t able to anticipate the truck’s movements so aren’t prepared to brace themselves if the driver makes a sudden turn. Those that are loose can be thrown out like Torri was. Those that are tied can hit the sides of the truck bed or the cab of the truck with a force hard enough to hurt them.
  4. There is no protection if the vehicle were to get in an accident. If the truck should flip, the dog could be thrown and even crushed under the truck.
  5. The dog could jump over the sides of the truck bed. The dog could get hit by another car or cause an accident. There’s the possibility the dog could take off once thrown and get lost. A dog who is tied in could end up being dragged. With any of these the driver might not be aware of any of this until it’s too late.


There are several states with laws, Massachusetts, New Hampshire, California, Maine, Oregon, Washington, Florida, Connecticut, Nevada and Rhode Island all have restrictions on how dogs may or may not travel in trucks or open vehicles. Some of these states allow dogs to travel in truck beds if they are restrained either by a tether that keeps them from jumping out or in a crate. Other states don’t allow dogs to travel in truck beds in any manner. Of course, these laws only work if they are enforced. And even with restraints dogs are still exposed to some of the dangers listed above.

Dogs put a lot of trust in us and depend on us to make the right decisions for their well-being. Keeping them safe while traveling is something every pet owner needs to keep in mind. The best way to do that in a pickup is by having them travel with you in the cab either restrained by a dog seat belt or in a crate. Let’s make sure they get to their destination safely so they can enjoy it with you.


Pet Travel Sources


Pet Travel Tips

Dogs Traveling in Truck Beds

(Note: There is a statistic that kept coming up in my searching that 100,000 dogs are killed each year while riding in the back of pickup trucks. I could find no source for this stat, everything seemed to point to the Humane Society of Utah which also does not give a source for that number. That seems like an awful high number to me so I was reluctant to include it with my post. If anyone has a source for the study where that number came from, please share in the comments.)




6 replies on “Is the Ride Worth the Danger?”

I once saw a dog hop out of the back of a pickup truck when the owner stopped at a light.

And I had a fight with a couple in front of my local Sam’s Club because their dog was riding in back during a winter storm. Their response? He likes it, we could have left him at home in the basement like other people do.

You can’t fight ignorance.

No you can’t, but you can sure hope they don’t learn the hard way at the expense of their dog.

I can’t remember the last time I saw a dog in the back of a pickup around here and we’re urban/rural so maybe people are getting it. Of course, now I’ll see them all over the place this summer.

I wish my state had such laws. It makes me cringe every time I see it. Commenting on it (politely) doesn’t seem to phase people. I guess they put their dog’s ‘happiness’ ahead of their safety. Where is the logic in that? My dogs are perfectly happy riding in the car with their seat belts on. Not being able to ride in the back of a pickup truck has not made them less happy.

That seems to be the way it works! I’ve seen a couple recently, and I live in the middle of urban SF Bay Area, CA – there are a few left. But luckily I think it’s becoming a bit more uncommon. Hopefully people are “getting it”. I agree it’s almost impossible to get through to most folks about their dogs… touch area (like child rearing!)

I can see why this topic is close to your heart Dawn…and how caring you were to go so far as move to give Torri great home…

i dont’ see as many dogs in pickups as i used to…when i bought a pickup a while back i had a topper installed at the dealers just for the dogs…only problem was they kept knocking the screens out of the windows to stick their heads out…i eventually gave up and stopped replacing it 🙂

It does seem to be something that’s decreased thankfully. One young man brought his puppy into the clinic that fell out of his truck. I think it either had a broken leg or hip… something he definitely couldn’t afford. We suggested some low cost clinics to him and helped him out with what we could but I am not sure whatever happened to that poor pup.