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Buckle up dogs in cars? New Jersey voters divided on proposed law

September 26, 2012|By Richard Simon
  • A new poll finds that New Jersey voters support a proposed state law that would require drivers to restrain their dogs in cars.
A new poll finds that New Jersey voters support a proposed state law that… (Marya / Flickr )

Here's something else for Democrats and Republicans to disagree about: whether dog owners should be required to buckle up their pets on car trips.

A new poll shows that New Jersey voters narrowly support, by a 45% to 40% margin, a proposed state law that would require drivers to restrain their dogs in the car or risk a $20 fine and a possible animal cruelty charge.

Democrats favor the proposal more than Republicans, 51% to 36%, according to the survey by Fairleigh Dickinson University’s PublicMind poll.

Dan Cassino, a Fairleigh Dickinson political science professor, called it a "clear instance in which Democrats support government intervention in what had been a private sphere, and Republicans oppose it."

Assemblywoman L. Grace Spencer, a Democrat and dog owner, introduced the legislation out of concern that loose pets riding on motorists’ laps can be "more of a distraction than a cellphone, especially if the animal is hopping from seat to seat, trying to sit on your lap, or worse, jump down by your feet.’’

The legislation is supported by 48% of voters who don’t own a dog but by just 38% of those who do own a dog.

"The people who are going to be most impacted by this bill – people who actually own dogs – don’t like it," Cassino said in a statement. "If nothing else, buying a restraint is going to cost them money."

But there is bipartisan agreement that dog owners shouldn't be transporting dogs in crates on the car roof, as Republican presidential candidate Mitt Romney did during a 1983 family vacation, according to the poll of 901 registered voters. Eighty-six percent disapproved. 

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richard.simon@latimes.com

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