She's old, but runs good.

Lynn Swearingen (c) copyright 2010 ALL RIGHTS RESERVED

I have to admit when I was alerted to Tennessee’s  HB 0212/SB0621 the first thought that popped in my head was “Well – That makes sense.”:

AN ACT to amend Tennessee Code Annotated, Title 55,
Chapter 8, Part 2, relative to the exercising of due
care by motor vehicle drivers.
BE IT ENACTED BY THE GENERAL ASSEMBLY OF THE STATE OF TENNESSEE:
SECTION 1. Tennessee Code Annotated, Title 55, Chapter 8, Part 2, is amended by
adding a new section thereto, as follows:
Section 55-8-202. No person shall operate a motor vehicle with an unrestrained
animal in the front driver seat. For the purposes of this section, a restrained animal
means an animal secured in a harness or vehicle seat, confined in a box, or hard or soft
sided travel crate, or being held by a person in the front passenger seat or in a rear seat.
A violation of this section is punishable as provided by § 55-8-136.
SECTION 2. This act shall take effect July 1, 2011, the public welfare requiring it.

No person shall operate a motor vehicle with an unrestrained animal in the front driver seat – that makes sense to me. Who wants a Weimaraner behind the Wheel, especially if they might be under the influence of Alpo or something? How would that actually be possible unless the passenger was a rural USPS carrier who had dual controls? Of course things are never quite what they seem when Legislators get involved…..this has actually passed the Tennessee House with a Voice Vote!

So being the interested party, I began a little search to determine what exactly this might mean for the Canine coupe cavorters. Surely Tennessee must be flooded with unlicensed dogs dashing about the back roads on their way to secret poker parties while their humans reclined in blissful ignorance to compel State Representative Jim Cobb and State Senator Campfield to introduce HB0212/SB0621.

Okay, maybe it was the increased revenue instead? Don’t think so. According to the Fiscal Summary this is the momentous contribution that will be raked into Tennessee’s coffers to assist in alleviating the one billion dollar deficit:

Increase State Revenue – $1,100 Increase Local Revenue – $100

In truth Tennessee taxpayers are paying more to have these bills drafted, discussed, voted on and debated than the revenue produced. That isn’t even the point!

Here we get to the “doggone” truth:

Tenn. lawmaker says dogs need seatbelts

According to the Spring City Republican, not only can it be distracting for drivers to have a pet roaming around a vehicle, it could be potentially dangerous for them.

Jessie Medina is the general manager at the PETCO store in Bellevue and told Nashville’s News 2 there are already plenty of products available.

“Pet parents underestimate the fact that these harnesses are going to save their dogs life,” he explained.  “It’s no different then their child or an adult who gets into an accident.”

Excuse me? Pet PARENTS? Will there be a weight or height limit? Will little Darcy Doberman feel constrained by not being able to feel the wind pass through her little ears as she pokes her head out of the window? Who will cover the puppy psychologist as poodles across Tennessee fall prey to the legislative process and need to relieve their depression by taking pharmaceuticals……

If ever there were a case for citizens of a state to rise in defense of their “pet children” now would be the time. If you think this is a NIB, contact the Transportation Committees of both the House and Senate. Contact the Sponsors! Demand that HB0212 and SB0621 be tabled, discarded, withdrawn or something to retain the dignity of the State of Tennessee.