NJ Voters Divided On Pet Seat Belt Laws

Sep 27, 2012 10:04 AM EDT | Matt Mercuro

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As if New Jersey Republicans and Democrats needed more to argue about with the impending election just a couple of months away, a new topic was introduced this month and has been the source of many discussions lately: seat belts for pets.

According to a new poll, New Jersey voters would support a proposed law that would make it mandatory for pet owners to restrain their animals when driving somewhere. The poll showed New Jersey residents support the law by a slim margin of 45 percent to 40 percent. The state law would make it necessary for driver's pets in the car to have some form of seat belt for the animal. The fine for not having an animal restrained would be $20 and possible face animal cruelty charges.

Democrats are more in favor of the law then Republicans by a count of 51 percent to 36 percent according to the survey conducted by Fairleigh Dickinson University's PublicMind poll. But pet owners overall have not been too supportive of the proposed bill. The legislation is currently supported by 48% of voters who don't own a dog, but by only 38% of those who do own a dog.

"The people who are going to be most impacted by this bill - people who actually own dogs - don't like it," said Dan Cassino, a Fairleigh Dickinson political science professor in a press statement. "If nothing else, buying a restraint is going to cost them money."

There is a mutual agreement though that dog owners shouldn't be transported in crates on top of car roofs as GOP Republican presidential candidate Mitt Romney did in 1983 on the way to a family vacation. 86 percent of the 901 voters agreed that he was wrong.

New Jersey Assemblywoman Grace Spencer introduced the bill in July. As a dog owner she is concerned that loose pets riding on driver's laps can be more distracting then using a cell phone while driving.  

The poll was conducted to voters over the phone from Sept. 6-12. 

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