Police warn dog owners to buckle up Fido

Published: May. 10, 2012 at 9:39 PM HST|Updated: May. 10, 2012 at 10:27 PM HST
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HONOLULU (HawaiiNewsNow) - You see it all the time, a dog on the loose and perched at the window of a moving vehicle.

"It's Hawaii. Everybody likes rolling down the street with their windows down and our dogs hanging their heads out the windows," Hawaii Kai resident Angela Byrd said.

Veterinarian Cristina Miliaresis owns Surf Paws Animal Hospital. She said a fun day can turn ugly in an instant.

"We have actually had a couple that have fallen out of windows with really bad consequences," she said.

It's dangerous for dogs and drivers, especially when the animal climbs onto the drivers lap.

"It's a huge distraction. Plus, you're trying to control your vehicle," HPD Community Policing Officer Cece Aiu said. "If anything should happen with the dog, it's going to get caught up in the vehicle, it's going to fall on the ground."

It could also get you ticketed. A little known law specifies you can be fined $97 dollars for driving with a dog in your lap and $57 if the animal's loose in a moving vehicle.

Police said most dog owners don't know about this rule.

"Use common sense. And if you really do care about your animal secure it and drive with caution," Aiu said.

Pet stores sell tethers and crates that meet the legal requirement, and dog car restraints come in all sizes.

"The dog wears it like a harness, like a regular walking harness. Their feet go in here. And then the seat belt goes through this loop," Michelle Chung of Marina Pet Supply said, displaying one of the harnesses sold at her store.

Groomers, animal hospitals and pet shops are passing out fliers from HPD, showing the rules and fines on one side and examples of safe securing on the other.

Miliareses said dog owners are stunned to learn what they didn't know.

"They're used to having their pets very close to them and they didn't know about this," she said. "A lot of them are like, 'Oh, my gosh! I have to go and get what?"

"I probably would try to get one of those booster seats. They do enjoy putting their head out the window," Byrd said.

Police say now that the word is getting out, ignorance of the law is no excuse. It's a safety issue, so obey the rules or face the fines.

Copyright 2012 Hawaii News Now. All rights reserved.