N.J. law: Put a seat belt on your pet or pay a fine | State | NewJerseyNewsroom.com -- Your State. Your News.


Jul 04th
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N.J. law: Put a seat belt on your pet or pay a fine

dogseatbelt53112_optBY GINA G. SCALA

It’s that time of year when drivers cruise along highways and scenic back roads with the windows down, wind blowing through their hair, music blaring and their faithful four-legged canine riding with his/her head out of the window.

The image is almost as old as time, and this year it’s an image travelers will be seeing less and less, thanks to increased enforcement under the national Click It or Ticket program.

Under New Jersey Statute 4:22-18, unrestrained pets in vehicles is an act of animal cruelty, and drivers who don’t secure their pooch in a pet seat belt will be subject to fines, ranging from $250 to $1,000 and as much as six months in jail.

“That’s for each offense,” Col. Frank Rizzo, police superintendent for the New Jersey Society for the Prevention of Animal Cruelty, said Wednesday, according to The Bergen Record. “So, if you have more than one animal loose in your car, just do the math…”

“Some people tell us they like to let their pets hang their heads out the window to take in the fresh air,” Rizzo said, “but dogs and cats become projectiles in a crash.”

On its website, the American Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals offers tips for safe traveling with your pet, and the number one item on their list is making sure your “dog is securely fastened or confined during car trips.”

A large dog in your lap or a small one bouncing around the accelerator pedal can be distracting and dangerous—and should you have an accident, your unrestrained dog might be thrown about the cab, according to the ASPCA tips.

The ASPCA advises dogs be fastened in the back seat of the vehicle. Dogs can be injured or even killed if you have an accident and an airbag deploys, if they are riding in the front seat.

A dog seat belt is “specially designed for the bodies of dogs, so they are a bit different from belts that people use,” according to Canine Auto. It can be positioned in two different ways depending on how your dog prefers to sit.

The Click It or Ticket program is the most successful seat belt enforcement campaign ever, helping to increase the national seat belt usage rate, according to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration.

Comments (34)
34 Tuesday, 12 March 2013 02:53
I don't currently have any pets but I was wondering why a 7 foot snake would be traveling loose in a car. Doesn't it stay in a very large aquarium or tank or something where it would be restricted anyway?

Regardless, the seatbelt law for animals is the most ridiculous tJKhing I've ever heard. My brother has 5 large dogs. Does he have to buy a van now so that each dog has its own seat if he drives to N J?
33 Monday, 01 October 2012 10:01
Sharon Black
I live in Calif and my husband and I have traveled all over the US in our RV enjoying the diversity of our beautiful country. I love my dogs but of all the things we need to spend our money on we are going to spend it enforcing a seat belt law for dogs! You have got to be kidding. Want to see what's wrong with how we spend our money in this country look no further. If this goes through NJ will be one state that will not be seeing our tourist dollars. You may say that is fine but I hope others travelers will take a similar stand. Please let's spend our money in a more responsible way.
32 Thursday, 27 September 2012 22:29
Shore Woman by the Sea
I just want to know. Is it "pending" being passed or is it really enforceable now? Can you please clarify? Also, Gov Christie said he would NOT sign this into law so what gives here? I don't have money to fight a ticket even though the statute is vague; I see the ability to appeal a local city court's decision. But, I have a life trying to just live in this state!
31 Thursday, 26 July 2012 23:12
Ashley G
Really New Jersey? How am I supposed to squeeze my 200 pound great dane into a stupid car harness... First of all the only way he fits in the car is if he lays down with his head out of the window, this is no big deal seeing as he is very sensitive to temperature and the windows are down year round. Second of all even if I were to put him in a harness isint him not being able to breathe animal cruelty? This law is the stupidest law in the history of New Jersey, go find the people that leave their dogs out in the hundred degree heat not the people that actually like to take their dogs places and enjoy them. The whole reason I got the dog was to enjoy taking him on our daily walks around the park and playing fetch. The closest park to me is approx 5 miles and in the summer heat, making a 200 pound dog walk all the way there because he doesnt fit in a harness is cruelty. New Jersey needs to get it together I can barely afford my bills and the car I own is in perfect condition I'm not about to go out and buy a bigger car just so I can belt him in IT'S A DOG!!!! They enjoy having their heads out of the window and sniffing the air, and frankly I'm not one of those drivers who lets their dogs sit in their laps when they are driving I dont see how the back seat is dangerous and if they want to pass this law there should be a weight limit because I can tell you when I come to a quick stop my dane doesnt even budge get over yourselves people we arent the animal abusers the people who keep there dogs locked up at all hours of the day not letting them experience the world and enjoy being dogs are the true offenders.
30 Wednesday, 11 July 2012 00:48
Ash B
They can actually harm the small dog's neck in accidents. Use The PupSaver - it's a safety seat designed to protect small dogs in the case of an accident or sudden stop by encasing around them and sliding into the floorboard. Just place in the front or back seat, fasten the tether to their collar or harness and you're set. I have seen mine work in a short stop, just as advertised. www.pupsaver.com has a video that shows how it works. Also on YouTube.
29 Saturday, 07 July 2012 12:31
Here is a simple way to secure your dog without using a harness...simple and very useful.


I'm glad to see this finally happen to address all those a-holes that ride with thier dog on thier lap.
28 Wednesday, 27 June 2012 20:00
Carter Floyd
Just another reason I'm glad I escaped from Jersey long ago. The place is run by lunatics.
27 Tuesday, 26 June 2012 13:11
Here is the statute. It leaves too much discretion to law enforcers who believe that the "carriage" - whatever form it may take - is cruel or inhumane. That's a judgment call that most police officers won't want to make, and it will be probably only be worthwhile if there is genuinely cruel behavior taking place.

Read the law for yourself!

4:22-18. Carrying animal in cruel, inhumane manner; disorderly persons offense

A person who shall carry, or cause to be carried, a living animal or creature in or upon a vehicle or otherwise, in a cruel or inhumane manner, shall be guilty of a disorderly persons offense and punished as provided in subsection a. of R.S.4:22-17.


Amended by L.1995, c. 355, § 3, eff. Jan. 5, 1996; L.1996, c. 64, § 2, eff. July 12, 1996; L.2001, c. 229, § 2, eff. Aug. 27, 2001.
26 Tuesday, 19 June 2012 08:06
Dog rescuer
Read the statute by Dog Lover on June 1 below. It says nothing about dog seat belts. I think what this statute actually addresses is transporting under inhumane conditions like animals crowded into an open truck not protected from the weather or left closed in a hot vehicle.

I think people who leave their dogs in a hot car at the beach or store or people who transport large numbers of animals improperly are targeted here.
25 Monday, 18 June 2012 11:01
Animal Lover
So let me get this straight. if I'm pulled over and my Kid is not in a seat belt the fine is $46.00 but if my dog is not seat belted $250.00 - $1000 + poss. jail time.

These people are out of control!
24 Tuesday, 12 June 2012 15:14
While I realize people think they have the right to do anything with their pets, would you let your two year old child travel unrestained half out a window? The best thing you can do for your pets is to either have them seat belted in or in a secure crate. In a traffic accident, this gives your pet the best chance of survivng. It also makes sure that your pets' antics while driving will not affect your driving. Yes, safety harnesses cost money (especially the good ones), but if you don't have the money for a one time purchase, then you shouldn't have a pet in the first place. I wish all states would follow this example.
23 Thursday, 07 June 2012 23:02
Robert Allen
permanently out of serious consideration for ever being a Republican nominee for President. This exposes that he is a 'statist' style conservative, a la the British Tories we defeated .. not an American style conservative fighter for individual freedom. A statist judges rules primarily by their effect - an American judges rules first by how they impact individual freedom and beauty.
22 Thursday, 07 June 2012 01:29
I get that people are annoyed by this because they don't like "the man" telling them what to do. But really? If you love your pet you wont mind, a car safety harness isn't too restrictive and they can still look out the back window, while strapped in, they also aren't expensive. You can find one for less than 10 or 15 dollars depending on the size of your dog at a pet store. Calm down people. Your pet won't mind, they will just LIVE if you get into a crash, which does happen, everyday. Instead of going flying into your dashboard or through your windshield at 70 mph, they will be snugly held into their seat. Which would you prefer?
21 Wednesday, 06 June 2012 18:31
A Rescue Dog from Tennessee...
I take my dog in my truck to DD every morning for my breakfast. He likes to look out the window, now that the weather is getting warmer. I think that this "animal cruelty law" is the most dumb law I have ever seen. I'm retired and on a fixed income. How can I afford a "dog harness" to keep me dog in the back seat??? I can just about pay my bills and feed my family and our dog on my fixed income. The "political hacks" in Trenton just keep passing laws that don't address the real issues in New Jersey. How about addressing ALL THE TAXES that residents of New Jersey have to pay. Yes, pass the "easy" laws that generate revenue, but DON'T address the real issues in New Jersey. LOL.
20 Wednesday, 06 June 2012 14:21
Not God Bless America..........God Help America (please)
19 Wednesday, 06 June 2012 06:53
Agreed the law has "ABSOLUTLY NOTHING" to do with seat belting your dog but if some "Barney Fife" writes you up the court costs will probably be close to the actuall fine. Catch 22 ! "New Jersey and you... Perfect together " LMAO !!!!
18 Wednesday, 06 June 2012 05:45
Pet Lover
I've always kept my Dalmatian in the back seat when riding in the car. After having to stop short one day which caused her to fly forward, I went out and purchased a seatbelt harness for her. It takes a few extra minutes to buckle her up, but her safety is important to me and should I have to stop short again, she'll be safe from being thrown against or inbetween the front seats.
17 Wednesday, 06 June 2012 05:32
I have rescued 4 dogs, I walk them daily and take them with me on trips.
Am I being cruel because I do not have enough seat belts for me and my family. Should I return some of the dogs to the shelter I recieved them?
Hello, dogs are being tied outside 24/7 and we are worried if the dogs are wearing seat belts??????
16 Tuesday, 05 June 2012 23:31
Mr New Jersey
Good Intentions by some to improve highway safey but based on the amount of the fines and the fact that in addition to police you can also be fined by animal control you have to ask what is this really about...MONEY.

Trenton has focused on NJ Drivers as a source of income because there are an awful lot of us to make money from. The amount we are charged for fines is among the highest in the country and this pet law is just another example of this policy by our elected officials. Does anyone recall the law that the state lawmakers passed allowing the installation of the automated traffic cameras? I have two children who drive and on their own can not afford to buy insurance in this state..who remembers auto insurance reform.

This should be a wake up call for all of us in this State and put an end to the abuse of citizens by our State Goverment. Gov Christie you talk a good game but lets see how the voters in those red states with their hunting and sport dogs in the back of their pickup trucks feel about your pet law when you are seeking the Republican Nomination.... I for one will be there to remind them!
15 Tuesday, 05 June 2012 19:42
Worrell R. Walker III
What the hell is wrong with you freaking idiots running this state & country. It is times like this you just want to punch the stupid right out of someone. WOW!!!!! WTF!!!!! I can't believe this is actually real.

I like almost everything Governor Christy has done so far with this state but if this Law is real, I will Never vote for him no matter what position he is running for.
14 Tuesday, 05 June 2012 19:27
d calvert
I have to say it agin go aftet REAL animal abusers!!! And fine them!!!
13 Tuesday, 05 June 2012 19:18
debbie calvert
Col. Frank Rizzo no disrespect, but you are calling this animal abuse if you do not restrain your dog in the car going for a ride to the park, etc. we are the people who care about our pets! Is the government going to pay for the restraints? People can hardly afford to feed them and pay for vet bills and now they cannot even take there dog for a ride? I think you should make laws this strict for the real animal abusers, tethered dogs all there life, dog fighting, abusing animals, etc. or enforce spay and neuter, these people get alittle slap on the hand! and , you want to punish the good pet owners?? With hefty fines, Please think about that!!
12 Tuesday, 05 June 2012 17:14
I am sure when your pet starts choking or fighting to get out of a seat harness it will
cause a big distraction for a driver. This law is absurd. The blind are told and trained to keep there guide dogs on the floor, with the new law they will need to occupy a seat in order to ride in a vehicle and that would include a taxi and a bus. Will they have to pay a extra charge for this? Who ever thought that this should be mandatory is delusional, maybe next we should put seat belts on our groceries , suit cases , and back packs. God forbid we allow a purse to sit on a seat unsecured.
11 Tuesday, 05 June 2012 16:17
Think about it. You are offered a job in NJ and you are a dog lover which is more than 60% of the population.

You are not going, not buying ,staying away from NJ.
10 Tuesday, 05 June 2012 14:54
how the hell am i supposed to seat belt a 7 foot snake i think the law is stupid. Talk about government nickle and diming people to pay for over spending, it's time for people to stand up and not take there S%#T anymore. sorry for the police who have to try and uphold the law, but you pull me over for this and i'll kick you in the jimmy for being stupid.
9 Tuesday, 05 June 2012 10:52
L Ladd
This kind of Liberal stretching of the law is totally ridiculous. Christie should pardon everyone in advance.
8 Tuesday, 05 June 2012 06:15
As a former state trooper k9 unit (not NJ), I find this to be hilarious. I called a friend on a local department in Jersey and told him about the article and he started laughing so hard I think he was crying. He verified to me that there is no actual way he could enforce this "law." The only way he could foresee any enforcement is if the dog was in the bed of a pick-up truck. I know for certain I will be crossing the bridge into Jersey and trying out the court's dedication to the ridiculous.
7 Monday, 04 June 2012 22:12
westie owner
Trying to broadly interpret a statute like this will cause NJ Law Enforcement even more headaches. I seriously question ones rationale to broadly interpret this law.
Perhaps the AG's office should review this matter and advise LE on how to deal with this.
6 Monday, 04 June 2012 16:01
NJ, what a mess.
5 Monday, 04 June 2012 14:17
Frank Gennaro
I don't know where this story came from. The statute in question is cited above. This is not a new law. It has not been amended since 2001. There is nothing about seat belts in this law.
The NJ seat belt law, to my knowledge, does not apply to, and never has been extended to cover non-human "passengers." The real test is that, before there was a seat belt mandate, no adult ever was prosecuted for child abuse for failing to have a seat belt on a child. The idea that we would criminalize the same conduct with respect to a pet is ludicrous. I don't know where Col. Rizzo is getting his information. He may have been riding to long with his head out the window.
4 Monday, 04 June 2012 14:06
Anonymous Pet Lover
I believe Col. Frank Rizzo, police superintendent for the New Jersey Society for the Prevention of Animal Cruelty is mistaken and misguided. There is nothing in NJ Statute 4:22-18 that requires seat belts for dogs. He is being stupid.
3 Saturday, 02 June 2012 04:18
From New Jersey Newsroom?? Just another hype story by the news media. Every day reports get more and more absurd. Not surprised to see this. Next you'll see a story about outlawing soda cups over 16 ounces. Oh yea, that was last week.
2 Friday, 01 June 2012 17:36
Leslie Palma-Simoncek
So what is the actual truth? This story didn't quote any law enforcement people.
1 Friday, 01 June 2012 13:43
Dog Lover
The statue actually says;
A person who shall carry, or cause to be carried, a living animal or creature in or upon a vehicle or otherwise, in a cruel or inhumane manner, shall be guilty of a disorderly persons offense and punished as provided in subsection a. of R.S.4:22-17.

Which reads;
4:22-17. Cruelty; disorderly persons offense

a. A person who shall:
Inflict unnecessary cruelty upon a living animal or creature, by any direct or indirect means, including but not limited to through the use of another living animal or creature; or unnecessarily fail to provide a living animal or creature of which the person has charge either as an owner or otherwise with proper food, drink, shelter or protection from the weather ; or leave it unattended in a vehicle under inhumane conditions adverse to the health or welfare of the living animal or creature--

Shall be guilty of a disorderly persons offense, and notwithstanding the provisions of N.J.S.2C:43-3 to the contrary, for every such offense shall be fined not less than $250 nor more than $1,000, or be imprisoned for a term of not more than six months, or both, in the discretion of the court.

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