Autumn Kiss gets ready to go for a ride in the back of a pickup – safely secured in a crate. photo by Jodi Schneider McNamee
By Jodi Schneider McNamee
It may be convenient to load your dog up in the back of your truck and take them with you, but carrying dogs in open pickup beds poses a threat to both your pet and other motorists.
Dogs riding in the back of trucks might look like they are having fun. They get to go somewhere with their owner, after all. But what if you hit a bump or swerve to avoid an obstacle? Your dog could easily fly out of the truck.
Imagine slamming on the brakes while your precious dog is in the truck bed. We're safe because we wear seatbelts. Not so for your dog.
According to the Humane Society of the United States, 100,000 dogs are killed each year in accidents involving riding in truck beds.
Sana Hayes, Brightside Animal Center volunteer program coordinator, remembers a tragic accident involving a dog in the back of a truck.
"Years ago I was in my car behind a pickup carrying a German shepherd. The truck swerved and the dog was thrown from the truck and killed by another vehicle. It was traumatic."
Oregon Revised Statute 811.200 prohibits carrying a dog on an external part of a vehicle unless the dog is protected by framework, carrier, or other device to keep the dog from falling from the vehicle. This offense is considered a Class D violation.
Sergeant Troy Gotchy of the Deschutes County Sheriff's office knows that it's not illegal in Oregon to have your dog in the back of a framed pickup - but he wouldn't do it himself.
"I would personally not allow my dog to run free in the back of a truck on the road," he said. "It's not a safe thing to do. He could easily jump or be thrown out."
There are more problems for dogs riding in the back of pickups than being thrown out.
Being in the open air traveling at high speeds can cause damage to the delicate parts of their face. Wind is a painful hazard. Wind whipping through the dog's ears is full of dirt, debris, and gravel that can lodge in the eyes, nose, or ears and cause serious damage.
Tying the dog to the truck bed can be dangerous, too. Ropes and leashes become nooses if the dog should be jolted out of the truck
Veterinarians see numerous cases of dogs being injured because they jumped out or were thrown from the bed of a pickup truck. If these dogs are lucky enough to still be alive, broken legs and joint injuries are among the most common types of damage that they sustain, and often result in amputation.
The best solution is to let them ride in the cab with you or leave them at home.
Your dog might enjoy the trip much more if he doesn't have to fight against gravity, jolts, and wind to get there.
"Dogs don't have hands to be able to hold onto something while in the back of a truck. I think of it like a dog being in a slippery bathtub and cannot hold on," says Hayes.
If you must take them with you in the back of a pickup, best practice is to use a secured crate or place a canopy over the bed.