Police get hot over the collar
October 25, 2009
CLICK CLACK front and … bark?
Next time Rover comes on a car trip, think before you allow him to stick his head out the window or climb on your lap.
Drivers caught with unrestrained dogs risk fines of more than $400, with 170 people charged over the offence since the pet-related road rule was introduced in NSW in July.
The legislation, which stipulates that motorists must not drive a vehicle with an animal on their lap or preventing them from having proper control of the car, carries a penalty of three demerit points and $338, rising to $422 in a school zone.
A NSW Police spokeswoman said of the 170 offenders, four had been caught in school zones.
If an animal is injured as a result of being unrestrained, owners also face up to six months' jail and fines of up to $5500 under the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals Act. The RSPCA managing inspector, Matthew French, said that even the Australian tradition of conveying dogs untethered on the back of utes could land drivers with on-the-spot fines of $500 under the Act.
''It is something we very commonly see,'' Mr French said. ''It is an offence to have a dog on a moving vehicle on a public street unless it's restrained.
''It is just such an incredibly dangerous thing to do, to have a dog unrestrained on the back of a vehicle. You cannot transport an animal in any way that inflicts pain.''
An RTA NSW spokeswoman said there were a range of options available to owners wanting to restrain animals.
''Pet transport containers or carriers, if appropriately secured within the car, may reduce the likelihood of the animal distracting the driver and may prevent the animal from jumping around inside the vehicle or jumping out of the car,'' the spokeswoman said.
Dogue, a pet store with branches in Bondi and Manly, reported a rush on sales of car restraints since July.
The store sells harnesses in sizes XS to XL, ranging in price from $15 to $50, with restraints that buckle the harnesses to car seats retailing for $15.50.
''When the law came out, a lot of people came in to buy the harnesses,'' said Sarah Halling of Dogue in Bondi.
''We would have two or three people a week come in. A couple of people had been pulled over with a dog on their lap. People are freaking out.''