Dog viral photo: animal transportation laws must be tougher !

This Photo Shows Why Texas Needs Tougher Animal Transportation Laws

In a viral photo that Mitt Romney would probably approve of, a dog in the Houston area can be seen standing tethered to a flatbed trailer as the truck it’s attached to zips along a freeway at 65 mph.

The photo, taken by an unidentified driver shocked by what he saw on Highway 59, was posted on Facebook on March 20 and shared more than 2,700 times within a day. Another driver also posted photos.

“You get a sense of disbelief that this could even happen,” Monica Schmidt, a spokeswoman for the Houston Humane Society, told KHOU. “And you think, ‘Are you sure this isn’t Photoshopped?,’ because it’s just so horrible that anybody would do that.”

As horrible as it is, believe it or not, this unsafe mode of transporting animals is legal in Texas.

About 100,000 dogs are killed each year while riding in truck beds, according to the American Humane Association (AHA). (I couldn’t find statistics for dogs killed while chained to flatbed trailers because, let’s hope, so few of them are subjected to this cruelty.)

“Unfortunately, we have all seen dogs riding in the bed of a pickup truck, which is an extremely dangerous way to transport your pet,” said Dr. Robin Ganzert, AHA president and CEO. If that’s extremely dangerous, chaining them to flatbeds must be off the charts.

Dogs riding in truck beds (or on top of flatbed trailers) may fall out or be hit by road debris. The velocity of the air mass can cause lung damage.

Many states do allow dogs to ride in truck beds, as long as they are in a crate or restrained.

Photo credit: YouTube

Photo credit: YouTube

Animal experts like the Washington State University Veterinary Teaching Hospital faculty recommend that if a dog must ride in the truck bed, the dog should be inside a crate secured to the back of the bed so it doesn’t slide around. Only as a last resort should a dog be cross-tethered: secured with two or more points of restraint on opposite sides of the truck bed.

“Tethering with a single leash is not recommended because a dog that falls out will be dragged or hang itself,” the faculty advised.

The dog in the viral photo is restrained by a single rope attached to the middle of a chain across the flatbed.

Most states also prohibit the transportation of animals in a cruel, inhumane or unsafe manner that could jeopardize the animal or the public — à la the transportation mode of the dog in the photo.

According to Texas law, it is an offense if a person intentionally or knowingly “transports or confines an animal in a cruel manner,” which is defined as a manner that “causes or permits unjustified or unwarranted pain or suffering.”

Although the dog in the viral photo appears to be distressed, and being tethered to a flatbed certainly seems to be unjustified, the driver would only be committing a crime if the dog was injured, the district attorney’s office told KHOU.

“We really need stricter laws in Texas to be able to protect those animals that can’t protect themselves,” Schmidt told KHOU. “Every dog owner should be saddened that as a society that happens… here in Houston on our highways.”

To ensure the safety of pets — and criminal charges for owners who put their lives in danger – please sign and share this petition asking for Texas legislators to pass tougher animal transportation laws.

Photo credit: YouTube


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