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When Dogs Go Truckin’
by Landess Witmer PetFolio Publisher
May 16, 2012 | 1424 views | 0 0 comments | 6 6 recommendations | email to a friend | print
Courtesy Illustration/Turi Everett
Courtesy Illustration/Turi Everett

What happened was tragic. A family outing nearly turned into a disaster for their pet. While a family ate a waterfront dinner, their white shaggy dog was tied to a long rope in the truck flatbed.

The shiny red pickup truck was parked near the café where they ate. For whatever reason, the beloved pet decided to jump out of the back of the truck. The rope was long enough to let the pup jump, but too short for the animal to reach the ground below. The white puff of hair was tied mid-air, fighting for his life.

My sister heard the dog from the boat she was docking at the marina. She ran, and ran, and ran. The dog fought for a while and finally quieted. My sister thought she was too late. She removed the collar and rope from the white mass of fur. She laid down the shaggy dog in her arms. She whispered a prayer.

The family eating had heard nothing of their dog’s yelps for their help. They knew nothing of the struggle their dog had just lost. My sister cried.

Moments later, by a real miracle, the dog slowly began to awaken: eyes opened, breathing started. The family was found in the restaurant. They came outside laughing from their happy meal together with no idea of the trauma outside.

Their dog had lived, but what is to be learned from this horrible situation? The canine did not break its neck, did not fully suffocate and suffered no broken bones. But, who knows if that pup will ever be quite the same. How long was the brain devoid of air?

Sara Anderson, owner of Dogz and director of Boxers and Buddies in Reno, is outspoken about the protection of dogs being transported in the back of pickups. She strongly recommends they be transported inside the correct size airline crate or other appropriate traveling carrier. She also points out that the crate must be secured to prevent it from sliding around in the pickup bed. And, even more important, pets must never be left in their crates in severe weather.

“Too many times I have seen well-meaning but uninformed owners, who truly adore their dogs, lose their companion forever by allowing him or her to ride in the back of a pickup unsecured. Even the best-trained dogs are in danger. Sudden stops, unexpected potholes, a bump in the road or swerving to avoid an object can launch an unsuspecting dog off a truck and into traffic,” Anderson said. She added, “Many times dogs that survive the fall are hit by oncoming cars. Dogs that survive can be frightened and disoriented, causing them to lash out at good Samaritans attempting to help or save them.”

What many of us might fail to foresee is that dogs attached to a single lead or chain can jump or be thrown off the side of the truck, breaking their necks, slowly strangling them or dragging them along the road before the owner realizes what happened and can safely stop and pull over. Even dogs that are “legally” cross tied in the back of a pickup can suffer sunburn, eye injuries from bugs, stones and other road debris, or get painful particles lodged in their throat, eyes or nose.

If a dog must ride in the back of a pickup, there are several steps that should be followed to enhance safety. First, make sure they’re in a kennel-type crate or covered wire crate that is tied or strapped down. Make sure it is securely fastened to the truck bed as unsecured plastic crates have been shown to shatter on impact, potentially injuring or killing the dogs inside. Provide water; in warm weather, you can use ice as it will melt slowly and have less chance of spilling.

Peggy Rew, American Red Cross dog and cat first aid instructor for the Northern Nevada Chapter, also feels strongly about people being prepared pet parents.

“Dogs don’t belong in the back of trucks due to weather elements (too hot, too cold, too windy) or safety issues of being improperly secured,” she said. “If there’s no room for them inside the vehicle, please leave them at home where they are happy and safe.”

“This is an extremely dog-friendly community,” Diane Blankenburg, community programs/development director for the Nevada Humane Society, told me.

She had a similar experience of witnessing a dog dangling from a lead over the side of a pickup truck. Fortunately, he too was saved.

“Most people love their pets deeply and treat them with the same care as their human family. But some of these same caring people can easily not realize dangers that exist,” Blankenburg said. Her advice: “Please be sure to secure pets when transporting them in open-air vehicles — they are depending on us!”


If you see an animal in a car exhibiting any signs of heat stress, call Washoe County Animal Regional Animal Services immediately at 353-8900.

Follow the Law!

Washe Co. Code §23, Ord. No. 1207 55.190 Endangering animals.

1. It is unlawful for any person to hold or confine an animal in a pen, house, car, truck, trailer or any other place without a sufficient supply of good and wholesome air, water, food and necessary veterinary care.

2. It is unlawful for any person to hold or confine an animal in a car, truck, trailer, box or crate when the temperature and surrounding environment may cause the animal unnecessary suffering or death.

3. To ensure humane treatment and alleviate suffering or needless death, any animal control or peace officer may remove an animal from a situation that restricts the animal’s ability to escape suffering or death. However, the officer will make every reasonable effort to allow the owner of the animal to remedy the situation before removal, or if no owner is available, the officer will attempt to notify the owner as soon as possible that the animal has been removed.

Fine up to $200

Read more about local pet clubs and current animal events in, “A World Unleashed,” at
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When Dogs Go Truckin’ by Landess Witmer PetFolio Publisher

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