It’s a common theme in Rant and Rave Facebook groups — every time a vehicle is spotted with an animal in the back, commenters descend, demonizing the driver for flagrant disregard of their pet’s life, but what remains unclear are the legalities around the situation.
Black Press Media reached out to local police departments to find out what exactly the rules are around transporting your pet and what can happen if you ignore those rules.
“We frequently get calls from concerned citizens who see dogs loose in the back of pickup trucks,” said Const. Markus Anastasiades, public information officer with the Saanich Police Department.
Ultimately, police recommend keeping all animals inside the passenger portion of the vehicle, as this provides the most protection and you can keep an eye on the animal at all times.
Anastasiades recommends buckling a pet in with an appropriate harness, which can keep the pet safe but also prevent it from being a distraction to the driver.
“Lapdogs can make wonderful pets however their lap duties should be saved for when you’re in your recliner, not your driver’s seat,” he stated. A driver must have their controls — such as gas brake, steering wheel and shifter — along with their view, free from obstructions at all times.
If a police officer catches your dog obstructing a driver’s view or controls, the driver can be issued a distracted or careless driving offence, which ranges in fines from $109 to $368 and carries two to six demerit points.
According to Anastasiades and the law, if a pet owner wants to transport a dog in the back of a truck, the dog must be in a “suitable cage, carrier or a guard rail must be provided and attached to prevent the dog from falling or being thrown from the vehicle.” In this case, a carrier can refer to a tie-down leash, which should prevent the dog from falling out while not being a choking hazard.
“As rear-enders are the most common type of motor vehicle collision, keeping them out of the back of your truck really is the best way to keep them safe,” said Anastasiades.
Bowen Osoko, community engagement division with the Victoria Police Department, agrees with Anastasiades. Osoko adds that under the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals Act a person responsible for an animal must not transport the animal by a vehicle unless it is inside the passenger compartment or secured in a way that will prevent the animal being injured or causing harm.
The BC SPCA states on its website that those who spot an unsecured dog in the back of a pickup truck can call 911 and record the licence plate, make and model of the vehicle and a description of the dog.