Florida Bill to Ban Dogs Sticking Heads Out a Car Window to Ban Declaw in Cats to Ban Tethering Dogs

Certainly, car rides could and should be safer for pets, as the non-profit Center for Pet Safety has been advocating for years. However, is a proposal in a bill filed in Florida last week to make it illegal for dogs to stick their heads out the window really worth discussing when so much else can be done – even as a part of this same bill?

While the dog poking a head through an open car window has been getting the media attention, the unnamed bill — introduced by Minority Democratic Leader Democratic Sen. Lauren Book — includes several provisions that would ensure the safety of canines when inside a moving vehicle and much more than that – including banning declaw in cats.

Pets in Cars

If passed, dogs would not be allowed 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,” the bill states.

Here’s the good news: The bill would also greatly limit how a dog could be situated inside a vehicle. Canines would need to be secured either by a harness or pet seat belt that is specifically designed for pets or inside a crate that adheres to particular size regulations. Before seat belts came along, there were no rules for people either. And studies do demonstrate enhanced safety when pets (dogs or cats) are appropriately secured or restrained.

Oddly, according to the bill, dogs may be held in a person’s lap if a crate or harness is not available, so long as it is not the lap of the driver of the vehicle. However, being held in a passenger’s lap is not safe. When a car crashes or even stops suddenly a small dog can be a projectile if held in the lap in the passenger seat, and sail right on to the front window.

Dogs would be able to ride in the beds of pickup trucks, but only in a crate that is secured to the truck and is big enough for the dog to sit, stand and turn around.

The most noted concern about dogs sticking their heads out windows are drivers who go over bumps or potholes, or get into an accident, and the dog falls out of the car. While not a common occurrence, the result is catastrophic. Also, as dogs stick their heads out windows, objects can fly into their eyes or ears, though not all that common an occurance.

Those who neglect the new rules could be charged with a misdemeanor and fined, according to the proposed law.

American Humane Society had recommended the same rules in a June 2022 driving safety fact sheet.

Declaw Cat Ban, Tethering Dog Ban, Rabbit Sales Limits

Hidden in this wide-ranging bill is a provision to make illegal to declaw cats, which is of course humane. A declaw is factually an amputation of the final digit of a cats’ paws. No doubt elective amputations are inhumane, and many nations ban this practice. Other states are also interested in following New York State’s lead regarding a declaw ban.

Floridians also would not be able to tether animals without adult supervision. Tethering means to “tie a domestic dog or a domestic cat to a stationary or inanimate object with a rope, a chain, or another means to restrict, confine, or restrain the animal’s movement,” the bill says. Exceptions apply, such as if the animal is being serviced by a vet or groomer, is participating in livestock herding or is being trained for use in law enforcement.

Sales of pet rabbits would also get an overhaul. They would not be permitted to be sold at flea markets or open-air venues, or during the months of March and April. Violations would be considered second degree misdemeanors under the bill.

Finally, the bill would establish a registry for people convicted of animal abuse. Registrants would remain on the list for three years after a first misdemeanor offense, five years after a first felony offense and ten years after any further offenses. Registrants also would not be allowed to own or work with animals.

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