It is now legal for Tennessee drivers to unleash their pets inside cars and trucks.
State lawmakers changed a rabies law from the 1950s that prevented drivers from carrying a rabid animal inside a car or truck.
State Representative Patrick Marsh from Shelbyville told Nashville's News 2, that law was too vague and prohibited all animals from being unleashed inside a moving vehicle.
“This is just to clear things up,” Marsh said.
According to Marsh's bill, which was signed into law by Governor Haslam on Wednesday, drivers will not be prohibited for carrying animals inside a vehicle, unless the animal is suspected of having rabies.
Nashville's News 2 spoke with veterinarian Dr. Chad Given from the Hillsboro Animal Hospital who said they do treat some animals who have been injured in car accidents.
“We have had some dogs with fractured ribs, or maybe torn toenails, or just some other small scratches,” he said, adding that his concerns aren't just about the safety of the animals.
“Is the animal causing the accident? One, by distracting the owner from driving, they're wanting to pet their dog, or did it jump in their lap, did it spill their coffee?” said Given.
The Farm Bureau worked with lawmakers to change the law.
Many rural drivers keep their big dogs inside their trucks. Rep. Marsh said there have been complaints from around the state that suggest some law enforcement officers have been issuing citations without knowing the definition of the original law.
- April 2, 2012: House passes bill preventing pets in drivers' laps
- April 11, 2011: Bill to ban pets in drivers' laps fails in Senate