Reader Question: Dog restraints?

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Here’s the latest reader question, along with my reply! 

Siri asks: What do you think about laws requiring dogs to be transported in portable kennels or otherwise restrained while riding in cars?

My reply: I think they are another example of one-size-fits-all authoritarian busybodyism!

In the first place, it’s your car – and your animal. A matter of property rights. Your electing to let your pooch ride up front – or wherever – causes no harm, as such, to anyone else. Some of those anyone elses might not like it, but that doesn’t give them the right to forcibly intervene and compel you to transport your pup in a cage (ruining the experience of just going for a drive for you both).

I hear the usual warble already . . . but something might happen! The dog might see a cat and suddenly jump in your lap and cause you to lose control!

Yes, certainly.

But only hypothetically.

Rights are a function of actuality. Meaning, simply, that rights aren’t negated by “mights.” 

One could just as easily argue that anyone “might” have a seizure while driving; whether it is more or less likely to actually happen than a dog bounding into your lap while driving is pure speculation and in both cases an irrelevance until something actually does happen that causes harm to another party.

At that point, one becomes responsible for whatever the consequences are. Not for consequences that never were – but which “might” have occurred.

This is a hard thing for most people to swallow because they imagine it means a run-amok society. But in the first place, it’s a an exaggerated fear because most people aren’t murderous or reckless by nature – even in the absence of laws – and in the second, the certain knowledge of being held responsible for harms actually caused (which isn’t the case today) would serve as a very powerful deterrent to those who are.

People who are reckless and criminal will be reckless and criminal regardless of “the law.” It is hardly necessary to state this; it’s self-evident. On the other hand, laws that punish people for hypothetical harms not actually caused punish everyone without cause – and that imposes a general harm as well as immoral one, since it is morally wrong to punish people who’ve not harmed anyone.

No matter how much you don’t like what they’re doing or worry that what they’re doing “might” result in harm.

So, I consider this a matter of personal choice. No one else knows better than you whether your dog can be trusted to sit beside you on the passenger seat without interfering with your driving. I would never presume to second guess your decision – because I don’t know your dog  and because it’s none of my business… unless you lose control of your vehicle because of your dog and hit my vehicle!

But if that never happens, it’s none of my business – or anyone else’s. Much less the government’s!

Got a question about cars, Libertarian politics – or anything else? Click on the “ask Eric” link and send ’em in!

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  1. Two dogs hiked about 12 miles from the the owner’s farmyard to another farmer’s farmyard and began to attack the sheep in the pen consequently killing a few and injuring others, blood everywhere.

    The farmer with the sheep was away for the day and when he returned, he discovered the aftermath. The neighbor’s dogs got shot.

    Dogs have minds and can go psychopathic. Dogs will go feral and pack up. A dog pack can be dangerous if you are on your own. They go all wild at times.

    The family had a dog, a black lab, that left and didn’t come back home. Dogs can become vicious and uncontrollable beyond the control of the owner. Word was he got shot.

    Out in the country, all stray dogs with no known owners do get shot. Dogs in packs might attack cattle herds, farmers don’t like that.

    There are good dogs and there a bad dogs, just like people.

    Joe’s German Shepard didn’t like Joe. The God’s awful truth.

    All of a sudden, a pit bull will be chewing on your face.

    Something Zelensky does all of the time. Good riddance and not soon enough.

  2. I have grown up around dogs (large ones) all of my life. They have never been restrained. I have also never had a problem with a dog misbehaving, jumping over the seat, etc. Most dogs love riding. When traveling I always make sure the animals have enough room – usually the very back of an SUV or the back seat of a pickup truck. Open the door, let them jump in, give them a Milk Bone and tell them to lay down. FYI: Goats are just as easy.

    The only animal that seems to have a problem sitting still is a cat. When we had them as pets, I would put them in a carrier for any trips to and from the vet.

    This demand from government that everything has to be “safe” is ridiculous. They are more worried about a dog or child being confined in a harness while traveling in a 4000-pound car, surrounded by air bags than the amount of Fentanyl coming over the border. Maybe I would take their “safety” precautions a bit more seriously if they look like they gave a damn about the actual health and safety of their citizens.

  3. Here is another view on dogs. I am not “anti-dog” by any means, but am merely critiquing irresponsible dog owners:
    Are you the alpha male for your dogs? If so, good for you…if not, YOU are the problem.
    The problem is that many dog owners are either stupid or just ignorant and unaware of their dog’s behavior and idiosyncrasies.
    Every friend of mine that owns dogs is impervious to the smell that their houses and furniture get from having dogs living with them, not to mention the hair, urine and fecal smell that their dogs and abodes secrete. However, such disgusting smells can be minimized.
    Some dog owners are so “brainwashed” that dogs actually control them. They put up with behavior from their dogs that they would not allow a human to do.
    Rather than the human owner being the “alpha male” which is the normal, proper order of things, the dog is the “alpha male” ruling the dog owner who is too stupid to see that he is being manipulated by an animal.
    Inconsiderate dog owners just laugh when their untrained, undisciplined dog “humps” the legs of visitors or begs for food by jumping on visitors, thinking that their dog’s behavior is “cute”.
    One of my pet peeves is sitting at the dinner table as a guest and having their dog bump and nuzzle, begging for food. THAT is a major irritant, in my book. If I can get away with it, a good “push” usually stops that behavior. There are those that disagree, saying it is up to the dog’s owner to discipline the dog, but I beg to differ with that assessment as the dog should have already been trained and restricted from the dinner table when guests are dining.
    A well-trained dog should NEVER beg for food and should be restricted from areas where and when humans are eating. Treats are given for reinforcing good behavior and are a valuable tool in which to reinforce and reward good canine behavior. Begging for, and being given food destroys that reinforcement.
    Dogs crapping everywhere is but another inconsideration that many dog owners overlook or ignore. Most dog owners do not pick up after their dogs, especially in public areas.
    I have run into many dog owners who insist that their dogs won’t bite, despite their snarling unfriendly behavior.
    Dogs can be valuable assets and, when in their place, actually enjoy the jobs that they are given, examples being on a farm, guarding and herding livestock or protecting the household. Undisciplined dogs are the result when owners do not give them something to do.
    Add to that, possessing a large dog on a postage-stamp size city lot is cruel to the animal as it has no room to run. Size the dog to the size of the area.
    Well-behaved dogs who know their place can be a pleasure, but unfortunately there are too many dogs and dog owners who need to “trade places”.
    As far as I am concerned, a dog that trespasses and attacks livestock or other farm animals MUST be put down or at the least “rehomed” to a city dweller. Shoot, shovel and shut up…
    I’m ready for the brickbats…

  4. Any law requiring dog restraint is ridiculous, but IMO it is verging on recklesss to have an unrestrained dog in the front seat. It’s no danger to your driving ability, but you are morally responsible for any harm you cause your dog when you panic stop to avoid an elk and pup pup hits the dashboard HARD and even if not physically hurt is so scared by this random act of violence that he empties his bowels in the crack between seat and center console and develops a car/driving phobia manifested as car sickness. Speaking from experience.

    On long drives (1+ gas tank) I now always make sure pup pup is either wearing a body harness tethering his CG to the lap belt, or is in the back seat with no way to fly into windshield/dashboard. I couldn’t take the guilt if he got hurt because I was too lazy to secure him while I was saved by a seat belt.

    PS securing heavy items on long road trips is easily overlooked but very dangerous. Big full ice chests must be tied down and lid secured. Ski boots. Tool box. That stuff can easily be deadly in a multi roll over. Roll overs are extraordinarily violent.

    • Hi Bg,

      I hear what you’re saying… but then, I never restrain myself, either! That is, “buckle up” for saaaaaaaaaaaaafety. I have an instinctive loathing for seatbelts – and a much greater loathing for laws requiring me to wear one. And so I don’t – without any harm coming to me (or anyone else) over the course of decades of accident-free driving.

      I never restrained my dog when he came with me, either.

      I understand risk. But I consider the risk minimal – and choose my actions accordingly.

      Of course, everyone’s threshold for risk is different – and everyone else should act according to their own best judgment!

  5. If you look at the damage done to the ever growing segment of the population from mandatory government restraint systems (sensory deprivation child seats)…

    Can you imagine pets behavior after experiencing the same treatment?

    Officer safety when pulled over with a pet? When the AGW visits your home?


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