They are if you live in New Jersey.
Here on PEI, it is very common to see dogs hanging their heads out of the windows of moving vehicles their tongues flapping in the breeze. As far as I can determine there is no penalty for this, even if the window is the driver’s, nor have the lawmakers seen fit to penalize drivers who have their pets on their laps or other wise bouncing around a vehicle. On the other hand, failure for a child passenger to wear a properly installed seatbelt results in a fine of between $200 and $500.
In New Jersey, the rules are somewhat different, at least according to a column in The Trentonian.
The law, as written, states someone cannot “carry a living animal or creature in or upon a vehicle or otherwise, in a cruel or inhumane manner.”
And now the state’s Motor Vehicle Commission and the New Jersey Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals(NJSPCA) is using this law to it to pet owners who let their pets roam free in the car. They had a press conference and everything the other day.
“We’re trying to educate people about distracted driving,” said Mairin Bellack, a public information officer with the Motor Vehicle Commission. “You can’t have your dog sitting on your lap, or sticking its head out the window.”
It’s part safety for the dog, part making sure drivers aren’t distracted, she said. Bellack also wanted to point out if your dog is calmly sitting in the backseat, you’re not getting pulled over. Police and the NJSPCA are just looking for distractions and safety issues. And if you get caught? As stated, the hefty fines of $250 to $1,000. Plus a disorderly persons offense.
On the other hand,the penalty for allowing your 3 year old to bounce around on the back seat or for your infant to ride shotgun by lying on the seat is…….$10 with a maximum of $25. This may change soon.
There is a bill floating around the legislature as we speak that would increase the fines to $100 for a first offense, and no more than $500 for subsequent offenses of having your children loose in the car. Still less money than having your cat waltz around the dashboard.)
The writer concludes:
Now I can sit here and point out the absolute absurdity of this, point out that according to current state law my dog is apparently worth up to 100 times more than my children, point out a loose toddler is infinitely more distracting than a loose dog, point out a $1,000 fine for having my dog bouncing around in my car doesn’t seem very “punishment fits the crime-ish,” but I won’t. This time, I’ll just let the facts speak for themselves.
There really isn’t much to add to that.