Dog dreams may be dashed by a Florida bill

By Marie E. Matyjaszek

If you thought things couldn’t get crazier in Florida, think again.

Senate Minority Leader Lauren Book has sponsored a bill that forbids dogs from doing the most dog thing ever – sticking their heads out of car windows. It includes other provisions relative to animal welfare, like declawing, cosmetic animal testing, and animal abuser registration, but the doggy joy ride provision appears to have taken the cake (off the counter when your back was turned).

Senate Bill 932 provides for a variety of canine transportation “do’s and don’ts,” like not holding your dog on your lap or in “such a position as to interfere with the person’s control over the driving mechanism ... while the person is operating the motor vehicle on a public roadway.” That one makes sense, especially given the increase in distracted driver laws. The common sense continues with not allowing a dog to ride in front of you on your motorcycle, or transport a pup on your roof, hood, fender, running board, trunk or cargo space. After that, it gets a little hairy.

The proposed bill states that a person may not “[a]llow a dog to extend its head or any other body part outside a motor vehicle window while the person is operating the motor vehicle on a public roadway.” I think everyone agrees that a dog (or anything else) should not be dangling out of a window, but taking away Fido’s ability to live his best dog life, his ears flapping in the wind, smelling all the smells, seems pawsitively crazy.

Yes, there are risks to Fido sticking his head out of a window, like accidentally stepping on the automatic window button, but the window locks can be engaged. Things may fly in his face and eyes, which can cause harm, but there are doggy goggles he could wear. If there is an accident, the dog may be launched from the vehicle, but most people do not secure their dog inside of their car, so this can happen anyway. A person who is found to have violated that portion of the proposed law would be issued a non-criminal traffic infraction.

Not surprisingly, people have a bone to pick with Senator Book for supporting the bill. Riding in a car with their head out of the window is something that is intrinsically linked to being a dog, their mouths gaping wide with excitement and thrill. Their lives are so much shorter than ours, and because of that, we want to give them the freedom to experience things before they cross rainbow bridge. Forbidding this pleasure would be too ruff to handle.
The author is an Attorney Referee at the Washtenaw County Friend of the Court, the views expressed in this column are her own. Email her at


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