PSA: Around 100,000 Dogs Die Each Year Riding in Truck Beds

When you see a dog riding in the back of a truck, does it concern you at all?

I worry about the sudden starts and stops but also about the warmer temperatures during the summer. We learned some very compelling statistics about why this isn't a good idea. (You likely don't need stats to agree that this is simply dangerous.) Dogs transported unsecured in the cargo area or truck bed of vehicles is at risk of injury as they can easily jump or are thrown from the vehicle. 

KHQA ABC News spoke with Steve Scherer with Quincy Animal Control, and they confirmed that the risk to the dog is just too great:

"The dog could see something and jump. Most dogs are smart enough not to, though, but I would worry about getting in an accident - the dog's going to be a projectile then. I would also worry about a dog being tethered in the back of a truck because it could jump over the side of a bed and hang itself," explained Scherer.

The bottom line? Don't let your dog ride in an open truck bed.

The American Humane organization shares these facts about why this is so dangerous:

  • Any sudden start, stop, or turn may toss your pet onto the highway where it can get hit by oncoming traffic. It is estimated that at least 100,000 dogs die this way each year.
  • Open truck beds do not provide any protection from the weather. The hot sun can heat the metal floor of a truck bed enough to burn a pet's paw pads. A dog left sitting in the broiling sun without water or shade may suffer from heat stroke before long.
  • Do not leash your pet inside the truck bed — many dogs have been strangled when tossed or bumped over the side of the truck and been left helplessly dangling.

Dog In A Truck

The cargo area of a pickup truck is not a good place for your best friend.

What are the laws related to riding in the back of a pickup truck? Only a handful of states have laws that prohibit dogs from riding unrestrained in the back of pickup trucks.

Most state laws that address the issue make it illegal to transport a dog "on a public road in the back of an open bed vehicle." This likely means that any travel on a private road or driveway with a dog in the bed of a truck would not be outlawed in these states. As of 2019, it appears that only six states (CA, CT, ME, MA, NH, and RI) have such laws.

Given the serious injuries, dog owners need to put pet safety first in this case. Riding in the back seat of a car in a crate is a better alternative.

Riding in a truck bed may place dogs in contact with shifting loads sufficient to cause injuries and, if the truck bed is uncovered, expose them to road dust, debris, and heated metal surfaces.

Does your dog ride in the truck bed? Share your safety tips at our Wide Open Pets Facebook!

This article was originally published February 5, 2020.

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