I drive a lot. Around 40,000 miles a year for my job. I drive from south of Yuba City to north of Redding. I drive on that dangerous Highway 99 where head-on accidents are common. I drive on Interstate 5 quite a bit. I drive on little country roads and sometimes on gravel roads.
That’s what you do when you work a job like mine: you drive quite a bit. And as such, you see more than your fair share of stupidity. For example, anybody who decides to pass someone on the stretch of Highway 99 between Los Molinos and Red Bluff really ought to reconsider their behavior from her. Is passing really that important on a stretch of road that is more like a residential neighborhood than a highway?
Maybe it is because I had to put my beloved yellow lab down a month ago that I am especially bothered by dogs that are untethered, running around loose in the back of a pickup truck being driven down a highway.
That happened to me today. I was entering Interstate 5 from Red Bluff when I noticed that the pickup truck ahead of me had a large, German shepherd-ish dog in the back of the pickup truck. The dog was running side to side of the truck, untethered, as we merged on to the freeway, gaining the speed needed to merge into the flow of traffic.
I watched the dog ahead of me running from side to side of the pickup truck on the freeway. Unrestrained. Any swerve by the truck or any sudden stop would send the dog out of the truck and into the path of any oncoming vehicle. Or the dog could have jumped out of the truck at 70 miles an hour, which would more than likely kill the dog.
I didn’t want to be the vehicle to hit the dog and I certainly didn’t want to watch the dog jump to its death, so I quickly passed the pickup truck. As I went by, I was sure to give the driver a middle finger salute in order to object to his stupidity from him.
How can you possibly love your canine companion without securing the doggy to the truck bed? It boggles my mind. Unfortunately, it is an all-too-common experience to see dogs untethered in the back beds of pickup trucks.
The Humane Society of the United States estimates that 100,000 dogs die every year from jumping or falling out of the beds of pickup trucks. I’ve seen more than a few dogs lying dead on Interstate 5 probably because of the irresponsibility of the dog owner.
Out of curiosity, I looked up if there is a law regarding the transportation of dogs in the beds of pickup trucks. Turns out that there is such a law.
According to the California Highway Patrol website, you must secure your dog to the bed of the pickup truck with two chains. They recommend not connecting the chain to a collar, but rather to a vest type apparatus. The exceptions are transporting dogs on farms where working dogs are being used to herd sheep or cattle.
You don’t herd sheep or cattle on Interstate 5.
The other exception is that you can transport your dog in the bed of a pickup truck if the sides of the vehicle are 48 inches or higher. That wasn’t the case with the idiot with the dog on the freeway.
I was at The Home Depot the other day purchasing some lights for my backyard. In the parking lot there was a dog sitting obediently, but not tethered, in the back of a pickup truck. I’m sure plenty of owners of dogs think that they have trained their dogs so well that such a practice is acceptable. They trust their dogs to stay put.
Having lost my beloved dog recently, I was tempted to pet the dog. To say hi to the well-behaved large dog. But then I thought better of it. Perhaps the dog was there to protect items in the bed of the truck? I decided not to pet the dog.
During these hot days, all of us worry about dogs being left in hot cars. It is hard to get accurate numbers of just how many dogs die from being left in hot cars, but it appears that more dogs die from jumping out of pickup trucks than from being left in a hot car. That is, if the numbers from the Humane Society are to be trusted. Estimates of dogs dying in hot cars are in the hundreds, not the thousands.
It is legal to smash a window to rescue a dog left in a hot car. Recommendations are to attempt to find the owner of the dog, stay with the dog in the hot car, call 911, and if the dog looks like it is in distress, it is totally acceptable to break the window and save the pooch.
I know the next time I am on the freeway and I see an untethered dog in a pickup truck, I won’t just flip the bird at the driver. I will be calling 911. I suggest others do the same so that this awful practice can be stopped.
Allan Stellar is an RN and a freelance writer who moved to Red Bluff after the Camp Fire. He can be reached at Allan361@aol.com.