As we turn the bend into summer, say goodbye to your faithful companion hopping into your car, sitting in the passenger seat and hanging his shaggy head out of the window tasting the freedom of the open road. Or, as much of the open road as one canine can get between red lights, stop signs and one-lane only road construction.
Northjersey.com Road Warrior John Cichowski reported last week that Col. Frank Rizzo, police superintendent for the New Jersey Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals, issued a warning that any motorist found driving with an unrestrained pet will face a penalty much stiffer than the $46 fine issued to unbuckled drivers and passengers.
Penalties for unrestrained dogs range from $250 to $1,000 and as much as six months in jail.
Rizzo told reporters that the rationale for the enactment of this new law is that in a car accident dogs become projectiles if they are hanging their heads out of the window.
Patch decided to go straight to the ones charged with the task of enforcing this law and issuing summonses—dog owning police officers. Those who agreed to respond asked not to be identified, but had the same opinion.
"Seriously," one veteran officer said. "The best part of my day is hitting the road with my dog sitting right beside me in my truck."
Another thought that this was a particularly intrusive law, especially given the severe penalties.
"Does a K-9 have to be restrained?" still another cop questioned. "I can hear it now, 'Wait, we can't sniff out the perp—the K-9's caught in the restraint.'"
In Overpeck Park's dog run on Saturday, the owner of Daisy, a Great Dane, said he thought this was just a back door way for the state to make money. "Really," he said "$250 to $1000? Why not just say you have to add dogs onto your car insurance policy?"
"Oh wait," he continued. "The state wouldn't get that money."
The owner of Millie, a Jack Russell Terrier said, "Great, so now when I restrain her she'll bark non-stop in the car and I'll get into an accident."
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