Thursday, June 28, 2012
A personal story about pet travel safety and the N.J.S.A. 4:22-18 Law
The recent New Jersey "Click it or Ticket" campaign garnered a lot of local and national press because the NJSPCA and the MVC joined forces to remind people of a long established law, N.J.S.A. 4:22-18 allowing NJSPCA officers to pull over any driver who they feel is improperly transporting an animal and imposing a fine of up to $1,000. In addition they can charge the driver with a disorderly persons offense under the state's animal cruelty statutes. These organizations stressed the importance of safely restraining your pets when they are traveling in vehicles, for their safety as well as for ours.
This is an all too real issue for me, as I have seen first hand what can happen to pets that are not properly restrained in the event of an accident. When I was a child, my mom and I were involved in a serious car accident. Both my mom and I were injured.
My most vivid memory of that day was of two silver miniature poodles that were ejected from the car that struck us. In a strange twist of fate their leashes were caught in the fragments remaining attached to the car from the blown out rear window. If their leashes had not gotten caught, they would have been thrown completely from the car. They were yipping as they hung out of the rear of the car by their collars. The poodles were alive, but they were injured and traumatized. They hung there for what seemed like a very long time as the human victims received first priority from the folks who stopped to help.
This image is burned in my memory some 40 years later. I am reminded of that day every time I see a dog sticking his head out of a window of a moving car or sitting on the lap of a driver or passenger. I think about how those poodles became projectiles during the accident. I worry what will happen to those pets free-roaming the back seats or sitting in laps in the event their cars are involved in an accident. The statistics are sobering as our beloved pets are more likely to die or suffer serious injury if they are unrestrained in a vehicle when an accident happens.
Therefore, I am all for the attention this issue has received and totally in favor of properly restraining our pets for all our sakes!