TRENTON, N.J. (CBSNewYork) — A new poll finds that a majority of New Jersey voters support the idea of requiring drivers to buckle up their pets in the car.
Fairleigh Dickinson University PublicMind poll released Wednesday shows 45 percent of registered voters in the Garden State support a law requiring pets to be crated or wear some kind of safety restraint in the car while 40 percent said they wouldn’t support it.
The poll was conducted after opposing bills about pet restraints were introduced by New Jersey lawmakers.
Assemblywoman Grace Spencer (D-Essex) is sponsoring a bill that would require all pets to be buckled up for safety.
The bill states that drivers must use some sort of seat belt restraint system that “humanely restricts the movement of a domestic dog or cat and keeps the animal secured and confined to a seat in a passenger automobile or within a passenger automobile’s cargo area during motor vehicle transport.”
A group of Republican lawmakers is sponsoring their own, opposing bill that says “failure to restrain a cat, dog, or other domestic companion animal while the animal is riding in a motor vehicle is not cruel or inhumane transport.”
Assemblyman Jay Webber (R-Morris) said he introduced the bill to clarify that pet owners are not required to harness or restrain their pets.
“These proposals have received both attention and ridicule,” Dan Cassino, a professor of political science at Fairleigh Dickinson, said in a statement. “But it seems like New Jersey voters are taking this seriously.”
The current statutes on improperly transporting an animal pertains to dogs riding in the back of pick up trucks or with their bodies half way out a window, President of the New Jersey SPCA Richard Yocum said last month.
If Spencer’s bill is enacted, New Jersey would have the nation’s toughest seat belt law for pets. Violators could get a $20 ticket and
could face an animal cruelty charge, which has a civil penalty of $250 to $1,000.
“The people who are going to be most impacted by this bill – people who actually own dogs – don’t like it. If nothing else, buying a restraint is going to cost them money,” said Cassino. “However, if politicians are just looking at the overall numbers, the dog owners are outnumbered pretty badly.”
The telephone poll of 901 voters was conducted from Sept. 6 to Sept. 12 and had a margin of error of plus or minus 3 percentage points.
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