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Sunday, September 11, 2011

Risking Pets On The Highway

Please excuse me while I rant for a little bit.  Today I saw something that I witness from time to time and it really bothers me both as a pet owner and a vet:  dogs riding in the bed of a pickup truck on the highway.

One of the first times I really noticed this was many years ago when I saw a truck going down an eight-lane interstate.  There was a lab sitting on top of the tool box behind the cab of a fully-laden pickup traveling at around 80 mph.  Today it was a German shepherd standing up and walking around in a mostly-full truck bed going around 70 mph.  Whenever I see this I cringe and want to make the driver pull over and take their dog inside the cab with them.

This is a huge risk for injury!  Yes, most dogs will probably stay in the back and be okay, which is what lulls people into a false sense of security.  Dogs don't have the cognitive reasoning to be able to think about what harm would happen if they jumped out of a moving vehicle.  They may realize some danger and try to avoid it, but a strong enough stimulus could cause them to make the leap.  The other risk is if the driver of the truck suddenly has to swerve or slam on breaks to avoid a road hazard or other vehicle.  Such a sudden move could send the dog out of the truck and onto the highway or into another vehicle.  Even if the dog is secured by a leash, there could be a risk of it falling over the side while still being attached, causing it to be dragged or strangled.  In any of these circumstances we have a deadly situation.  If the dog jumps or falls onto a busy highway going at high speeds that dog will die.

I simply don't understand why people take these sorts of risks.  They would never consider doing that with one of their children, so why do they do it with their pet?