Driving home from a snowshoe hike with our dogs yesterday (we got a major dump in the mountains outside Seattle), we came upon a truck with an open flatbed. What caught my eye was the enormous U.S. flag across the cab guard. Obviously, this driver wanted to send a message: He was a patriot, couldn’t we see from the flag?
If I sound snide, it’s because of what I saw next: In front of the flag, actually, flush up against it, was German Shepherd. He wasn’t tethered in any way, and if we hadn’t been driving 65-miles-per-hour down a crowded, four-lane interstate, we could have reached out and grabbed him. My husband snapped this photo with my camera phone. It’s not a great shot, but you get the idea. Here’s the other thing, as the truck pulled off an exit and we sped by, I saw that the cab was extended, i.e., there was a perfectly good—empty—backseat for his furry buddy.
It’s as dangerous as it looks. “It’s estimated that more than 100,000 dogs die from falls from pickup trucks each year,” writes Joanne Helperin at Edmunds.com, an automotive information website. The Humane Society of the United States (HSUS) lists a variety of dangers for dogs in pickups including bumps, swerves or quick stops launching the dog into traffic. Even if the dog isn’t injured or killed in a fall from a truck, another driver can be hurt or cause an accident avoiding the animal. I was surprised to learn that a restraint can increase the dangers.
And while I have my ire up about my sighting, I’ll reserve some for the Maryland Senate, which, in February, voted down a proposal against dogs in pickups.