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.
- Flying debris could hit your dog and cause injuries.
- Dogs are exposed to the elements including extreme temperatures.
- 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.
- 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.
- 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
(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.)