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Doggie Seat Belts Loom in N.J. as Budget Challenges Grow

[Ed. Note: Doggie seat belts as Rome burns. ~Kerry.]

by Terrence Dopp

New Jersey’s unemployment rate is the highest in more than three decades. Revenue trails Governor Chris Christie’s projections by $100 million. And its assembly is considering making the state the first in the U.S. to require drivers to restrain pets in their vehicles.

Assemblywoman L. Grace Spencer, a Newark Democrat who owns a Pomeranian named A.J. along with five cats and a rabbit, has introduced a bill to require motorists to secure dogs and felines with a seatbelt-like harness if they’re not being transported in crates. Violators would get a $25 ticket that might escalate to an animal-cruelty charge with a fine of as much as $1,000 in extreme cases, such as having an unrestrained pet in the bed of a pickup.

Securing animals is “a bigger issue than people realize,” said Spencer, 44, a liability-law attorney. She said her measure will protect motorists and animals alike.

“We didn’t think that texting was so big of an issue until people started dying,” she said.

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