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Verify: Is it legal to have unrestrained pets in a vehicle in Washington state?

The short answer is yes. However, if you're driving with the pet in the bed of your truck, that could be a different story.

The car is packed and you're ready to hit the road, you just need to grab the dog. Everyone is buckled up, but what about your four-legged best friend? 

A recent Facebook post by Safe Pet claimed it's against the law to drive with unrestrained animals and you could face a $2,500 fine. KING 5 decided to verify these claims. 

Our sources are the Washington State Legislature, the Washington State Patrol, and the American Humane Association. 

Currently, in Washington state, there is no law that says dogs (or any animals) must be restrained inside the car while you're driving. 

But having pets outside of the vehicle is a different story. 

A Washington state law says it's illegal for anyone to transport an animal on the running boards, fenders, hood or other outside parts of the vehicle without having some sort of protection so the animals cannot jump or fall out. 

So, if you're driving with a dog in the bed of your truck that doesn't have a harness or crate to restrain them, you could get pulled over. 

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Washington State Patrol says while it's not illegal to drive with a dog unrestrained inside the car, in some cases it could be considered distracted driving. 

“It’s not a primary violation, we can’t stop you for having a loose animal in the vehicle," said WSP. "We see a lot of animals in cars and there are times when we can tell well that looks like it’ll be a distraction, but if they’re not committing a primary violation we don’t have the authority to contact that vehicle or stop that vehicle.”

WSP also told KING 5 they had not heard about the $2,500 fine claimed by Safe Pet. 

The American Humane Association says it's always best to restrain, contain or crate your pet in a vehicle for their safety and animals should always ride inside the vehicle. 

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