Driving with your cat or dog can be a stressful experience for both of you, but did you know that some ways of transporting your pet are illegal?
Australia has specific laws about looking after domestic animals during transportation. The Prevention of Cruelty to Animals Act imposes criminal penalties and fines for certain behaviours that can harm our furry friends. There are also traffic rules that govern the way our pets need to be transported. Here’s an overview of some of these:
In New South Wales it is an offence to have animals unrestrained in vehicles, including having dogs unrestrained in the back of open utes. This action carries the possibility of both fines and time spent in prison. Other states and territories have similar laws that prevent animals from being transported in a dangerous manner which may result in them being harmed. For example in Victoria and South Australia, large fines apply if dogs are not restrained when travelling on the back of a ute.
Many dogs are killed each year by jumping out of open windows while cars are moving. If they are unrestrained they can also distract the driver or be thrown inside the car if it comes to a sudden stop or is involved in an accident. Dog harnesses that anchor them to the inside of the car are generally recognised as a safer way to transport dogs.
In Victoria, the minimum standards for transporting cats includes keeping them confined in a secure and well ventilated container that allows enough room for cats to comfortably stand, turn around and lie down. It is an offence to transport cats in the boot of a car.
A stressed cat can be distracting to drivers as they meow, scratch or move around. Keep your cat calmer by putting them in a carrier with plenty of room and a blanket or some of their favourite toys.
In some states such as WA and New South Wales it is a traffic offence to drive with a pet on your lap or on the petrol tank of a motorcycle. These traffic offences can attract large fines and a loss of demerit points.
Both the Northern Territory and Queensland require you to transport your animals in a way which does create any suffering for the animal, in fact across all states you have a duty of care when travelling with your pets
Like children, animals must not be left inside a car if there is a possibility of heat stress or extreme cold. If you are going to leave your pet inside the car for a short period of time it is best to leave them with access to water. Similarly, provide frequent water breaks if you are going on a road trip with your pet. However, short trips are always best when it comes to transporting your precious pooch or kitty!