Why it’s dumb to drive with the dog

Our family has three dogs. Two of the dogs stay at home and are the beloved companions for my husband and children.

The other dog, Police Dog Hondo, is my partner, comes with me everywhere and is the official guardian of my family’s well-being. Regardless of their standing within our family, we treat all three dogs with love and respect. Although each weighs more than 20 kilograms, all would consider themselves lapdogs when it comes time to vie for our attention.

Which brings me to this point — even if they were lapdogs, none of them would ever experience the “luxury” of travelling on my lap if I were behind the wheel of my car.

A dog, even a teeny-tiny little one, has no business sitting on its owner’s lap as he or she pilots a vehicle through the streets of the Lower Mainland. Not only is such behaviour dangerous, it could be considered illegal if the dog was the contributing factor in the owner/driver being involved in a collision. Section 144 of the B.C. Motor Vehicle Act reads as follows:

144 (1) A person must not drive a motor vehicle on a highway

(a) without due care and attention

(b) without reasonable consideration for other persons using the highway, or

(c) at a speed that is excessive relative to the road, traffic, visibility or weather conditions

Let me translate — if you are driving and the bichon frise that was so quietly snoozing on your lap suddenly jumps up and jams itself into your steering wheel causing you to lose control of your car, you are responsible for the resulting crash, as you were clearly not driving with due care and attention. Or, if your cute chihuahua slides down and gets wedged under the brake pedal preventing you from stopping at a light or a stop sign, again, you are at fault as you did not have reasonable consideration for other persons using the highway. Having a dog in your lap restricts the movement of your arms and upper body, which has a direct effect on your ability to control and steer your car.

Besides that, I’m sure neither dog would be too happy about being turned into an impromptu furry airbag or being stomped on as you frantically try to stop the forward motion of your car.

When travelling with your beloved canine, please secure them properly. And no, the wonderfully warm, sunny spot on the rear dash does not count. If you were to brake hard, whatever is loose on the rear mount of car comes forward with a vengeance. It would hurt enough to be nailed in the back of the head with a box of Kleenex, let alone a five-kilogram Yorkie.

Invest in a kennel or crate, a doggie seatbelt if you must, or a pet divider if you have an SUV style vehicle — anything to keep your pet from becoming a projectile during a collision.

By protecting your pet, you are protecting not only your own safety and the safety of your pet, but also the emotional investment one makes in an animal companion.

Vancouver police constable Sandra Glendinning blogs at behindtheblueline.ca. Her opinions aren’t necessarily those of the city’s police department or board. You can e-mail Sandra at [email protected]

Photograph by: Photos.com