It Could Be Illegal For Your Florida Dog to Stick Their Head Out of a Car Window
A proposed bill in the state would impose safer rules for dogs riding in cars.
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The canine motorheads of Florida might have to roll up their windows soon. A new, wide-ranging animal rights bill making its way through the state legislature would ban dogs from hanging their heads out of the windows of cars.
The proposed ban is one of several provisions in Senate Bill 932, which Democratic minority leader Lauren Book proposed last month. In addition to making it illegal for people to “allow a dog to extend [their] 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 would also prohibit people from holding dogs in their laps while they drive. It would also require that dogs in cars be in size-appropriate crates, restrained with a harness or pet seat belt, or under the physical control of a person other than the driver.
The bill would make violating any of these rules a noncriminal traffic infraction. The image of a dog happily dangling their head out of a car window is iconic, but in recent years, animal rights groups have been explicit about the risks it presents. In a post about safety tips for driving with pets, the American Humane Society makes similar recommendations to those in Book’s bill. And according to the American Kennel Club, when traveling with a dog in the car, parents should “keep windows completely rolled up or only cracked.” The AKC adds that parents should never allow their dog to stick their head out of the window, “as this can result in injury from a dog jumping out of the car,” or “a dog’s eyes being injured by flying debris.”
Despite the dangers of letting your dog recreate that tunnel scene in The Perks of Being a Wallflower (you know the one: Emma Watson stands in the bed of a speeding truck with her arms in the air) the bill has received pushback from dog parents in Florida. “Leave us and our dogs alone!” one user commented on an unrelated post on Book’s Facebook page.
Book herself said she would be open to amending the proposed bill. In a statement to CNN, the lawmaker said that her three dogs “love sticking their heads out of the window.” She added, “I welcome and appreciate all public comment on this issue, which is only one piece of a complete proposed overhaul of the state’s animal welfare system as brought to me by veterinarians and advocates.”
She went on: “We can easily amend this piece out of the bill while protecting the intent of the animal welfare community and vets who proposed the policy because of unintended injuries they’ve treated — and we will.” In the meantime, she recommended everyone invest in a good pair of dog goggles to protect their pups’ eyes if they’re going to be feeling the
Besides the section on transporting dogs in a motor vehicle, SB 932 would also prohibit the declawing of cats — except when it’s medically necessary — restrict the sale of rabbits as pets, and ban cosmetic testing on animals.
No other state in the U.S. has banned dogs from sticking their heads out of cars, but there is precedence for some of the other provisions. As of December 2022, 10 states in the U.S.have passed laws banning cosmetics animal tests: California, Hawaii, Illinois, Louisiana, Maine, Maryland, Nevada, New Jersey, New York, and Virginia. Although SB 932 has received significant media attention (it’s been covered by CNN, NPR, and The Guardian, among others) its future in Florida remains unclear. The bill still has to pass the Florida Senate and House and be signed by Florida governor Ron DeSantis.
In the meantime, it’s probably a good idea to keep your pup safely restrained in the car on your next road trip anyway — no matter if it’s the law.
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Madeleine Aggeler is a freelance journalist and copywriter in Washington, D.C. Previously, she was a writer at New York magazine’s The Cut. She lives with her dog, Cleo, who works primarily as a foot warmer.