There is nothing wrong with a lap dog, unless the dog is sitting in the lap of someone driving a motor vehicle. Having an unrestrained animal in your car while driving can be dangerous, particularly if that animal has a propensity to wander into the lap of the driver and start licking his or her face.
There is no law against having an unrestrained pet in your car. However, if your pet gets into the driver’s lap or crowds and distracts the driver you are breaking the law. Section 162 of the Highway Traffic Act provides that no person shall drive with property in the driver’s seat so placed as to interfere with the proper management or control of the motor vehicle. Your dog is your property. A driver who allows a dog to sit in his or her lap and interfere with safe driving is in violation of this law. The driver might also be charged with careless driving.
If you are distracted by a pet in your car and cause an accident, Highway Traffic Act charges may be the least of your worries. You and your pet could be seriously injured or killed. You put other drivers at risk of harm. If you seriously injure another driver they can sue you and take the position that you were negligent in allowing your pet to roam freely through the vehicle and distract you.
Ontario’s SPCA recommends securing your pet with a car restraint, a crate or a gate to keep them away from the driver. Following this advice will go a long way to keeping you and your furry loved one safe.
About the Authors
Troy Lehman joined Oatley Vigmond in 2006 and became a partner in 2010. As a personal injury lawyer, his greatest satisfaction comes from helping people through to the other side of a difficult time in their lives. “We’re here to help and relieve stress,” Troy says. “When I walk into a first meeting with a client, people are often scared and anxious. And for me, the best thing that can happen at the end of the meeting is that they say, ‘I feel so much better.’