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Why Dogs and Pickup Trucks Don't Mix

Chances are that your dog is one of your most faithful companions. But, from time to time, he may present you with unique challenges that could lead to frustration for both you and your four-legged friend. The information in this section will help you handle the responsibilities and potential difficulties that accompany the joy of sharing your life with a dog.

Dogs who are riding in the backs of pickup trucks may look like they're having fun. Noses testing the wind and ears flopping, they seem to be enjoying the trip-and they get to go places with their owners. But they're not safe: When you transport your dog in the open bed of your pickup, you endanger both your dog and other motorists.

If your truck hits a bump, or if you step on the brakes suddenly or swerve to avoid an obstacle, your dog can easily be thrown from the truck bed and onto the road. Chances are, this will injure or kill your dog. But even if it doesn't, being struck by another vehicle probably will. Also, other drivers may cause an accident by swerving to avoid hitting your dog.

If you must transport your dog in a pickup truck, put him in the cab with you in a travel crate or other pet carrier. If you have an extended cab, have your pet ride in the back portion of the cab where he will be away from the front windshield. It is not safe for your dog to ride in the bed of a pickup even with a restraint. The HSUS knows of no brand of harness that has been proven safe in this situation. In fact, there have been cases where dogs restrained by leashes or harnesses have been strangled or dragged after being thrown from a truck bed.

There are other safety precautions that you should take anytime your pet goes for a ride, regardless of the type of vehicle. Be sure your dog wears a collar with an ID tag. When traveling long distances, have your dog wear two ID tags-one with a home address and one with a destination address. Never leave your dog in a vehicle unattended. On a warm day, the temperature can reach 120°F in a matter of minutes-even with the windows partially open.

The trip will be more enjoyable for both of you if you make sure that your dog will be safe and sound on arrival.

Updated Sept. 26, 2006

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