It’s warming up outside, and most people are familiar with the city ordinance that prevents pet owners from leaving their animals alone in a hot car. What people might not realize, however, is that ordinance also includes a rule against letting your dog hang too far out of the window of a moving car.
Animal Welfare admits the not-so-well-known rule is hard to enforce.
“It’s a misdemeanor charge that carries a fine of $500 and/or 90 days in jail,” Animal Welfare Lt. Thomas Romero explained. “It’s just for the safety of the animal and the public.”
The ordinance states dogs cannot have access to a window that’s open wide enough for it to jump or fall out.
“Ridiculous! Everybody lets their dog stick their head out the window,” Max Steinberg of Albuquerque said.
“I think they’re well-meaning,” Acoma Training Center Owner Trish Spradley said. “I’ve heard too many times of dogs falling out the windows.”
It’s part the same ordinance that prohibits people from leaving their pets in a car without ventilation, and for which Animal Welfare recently gave three citations. However, not everyone is on board with what they’re calling an unusual rule. “It seems hard to enforce that sort of thing,” Steinberg said.
He’s right. Animal Welfare doesn’t have the authority to pull people over when they see the infraction. “I would say [we cite] maybe a couple every year,” he said.
The department can cite people they see parking the car with a dog hanging far out the window. Otherwise, it relies on complaints to 311 or 242-COPS, but still needs physical proof to use in court.
The department said there is an easy way to follow the rule, and make sure everyone stays safe. “I would just say as a rule of thumb: if they can get their paws out of the vehicle then that’s probably an unsafe area,” he said.
An APD spokesperson said he could not think of an instance where officers pulled over anyone for this violation.