LUBBOCK, TX (KCBD) – Taking man's best friend for a ride can pose a doggie distraction for drivers. Police say you can equate it to texting and driving, and pet owners transporting their critters need to know the risk.
"With animals in the car or on your lap, specifically on your lap they'll move. You can't really tell what they're going to do, so they could do something. If you're trying to react to what they're doing, you're not paying attention to what you should be on the road way," says Sgt. John Hayes, Lubbock Police Department.
A recent AAA survey says one in five pet owners admit to driving with their dog on their lap, and 59 percent say they have participated in at least one distracting behavior while driving with their dog.
"I heard a couple people where their animals have actually, that weren't puppies or kittens, that actually hopped out of the vehicle while they're driving," says Pet Plus owner, Richard Evans.
Police say in Lubbock there is no criminal law or law in the transportation code that violates driving with an unrestrained dog, but they say it's not recommended. "Driving as it is, is a divided attention task. You have to be able to see hazards, see signs and still be under control and operate your vehicle," says Hayes.
However, KCBD found driving with your unrestrained pets violates a city ordnance. Police say it originally was written for moving livestock unrestrained or in a cruel and unusual way. But since the ordnance says "animals" it can be enforced on domesticated pets. For instance, driving around with your dog in the back of a pickup truck.
Everyday people drive with their pets whether it's heading for leisure, a quick ride to the store, or picking up their dog at a local pet resort. "We have a multi variety of anybody from having them in their car seats, which are just for the pets, or sitting in the vehicle with them in their back seats or put them in the front seat. So it's just a wide variety of how people transport them here," says Regal Pet Resort owner, Todd Bains.
But many of their clientele know the dangers and use a wide variety of precautions, like harnesses or car seats making Fido a little bit safer. "I just feel safer with her over here and she's not in my lap and I'm not distracted in traffic and stuff," says pet owner Keetha Gresha.
"I can drive and she's in place and I'm not having to hold her. She can see. She likes to look around," says pet owner, Sue Lewis.
Lewis buckles her pooch Maggie in every time they go for a drive and knows securing her dog with a seatbelt will limit distractions. "If you hold her it's ok, but your arms get tired and you are distracted."
Pet stores like Pets Plus sell these items hoping to make traveling with your dog safer. "There's actually a seatbelt harness that you can actually put in the car. Or you can actually take a carrier like this where you can attach a seat belt restraint that hold that in place," says Evans.
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