SALT LAKE CITY (ABC4) – A proposed bill in Utah’s 2021 Legislative session would restrict the transportation of dogs in the back of a truck.

House Bill 386, sponsored by Representative Ashlee Matthews (D-Salt Lake City), was introduced on Thursday.

The bill text, which you can read below, says a dog could not travel in the back of a pickup truck on a highway unless:

  • The speed limit is below 40 miles per hour;
  • The space in the back of the truck is enclosed;
  • The space in the back of the truck has side and tail racks to a height of at least 46 inches extending vertically from the floor of the truck bed;
  • The dog is cross-tethered to the truck; or
  • The dog is protected by a secured container or cage.

Anyone who violates H.B. 386 as a first offense would be guilty of an infraction. A second or subsequent violation would result in a class C misdemeanor.

An individual transporting a hunting dog or working farm dog is exempt from this for purposes of transporting the hunting dog or working farm dog.

In the state, it is currently legal for an animal to ride unrestrained on flatbed trucks or in the bed of a pickup truck.

The Humane Society of Utah recently released a statement in support of H.B. 385, saying the legislation is “long overdue.”

They say that while it is not illegal, it is incredibly dangerous for animals and other motorists for animals to travel in the back of trucks unrestrained.

“We receive a lot of calls, especially in the summer, from drivers who are extremely concerned for the well-being of a dog they see riding in the back of a truck,” says Rachel Heatley, Utah Humane Society advocacy director. “We’ve received animals to our shelter who have fallen from a moving vehicle, and it is heartbreaking that the incident could’ve been prevented if the animal had been restrained properly.”

The improper transportation of dogs can be distracting to drivers, according to the Humane Society. They say that roughly 100,000 dogs are killed each year in accidents involving riding in truck beds.

“This bill is long overdue,” says Heatley. “Several states have had this legislation in place for years. It’s time for Utah to follow suit. This legislation is an easy and effective way to reduce distraction on Utah’s high-speed roadways and save countless lives of humans and animals.”

The Humane Society of Utah is encouraging the public to contact their state lawmaker and urge them to vote in favor of this bill.

You can read the text of H.B. 386 below:

Click the square in the bottom right corner for full screen.

Rep. Matthews has also sponsored bills to create a new program to benefit bees and pollinators as well as another that sets a staggered schedule of minimum wage rates that would vary between urban counties and rural counties.