Taking a car ride with your pet can be a thrill, both for you and your pet. But, if you insist that your dog, cat, hamster, iguana ride up front with you, be prepared for a possible fine.
Although the Ley de Tránsito (Traffic Act) has no specific indications regarding how or where pets can travel in a vehicle, it is clear that it should not be up front with the driver.
In the back seat, on the floor, leaning out the window are OK, but not up front, explains the director of the Policia de Transito (Traffic Police), Mario Calderon.
The traffic chief said that the law requires the driver to be free to drive, that he or she should not be hindered with any other activity other than driving, hence having a pet in the front seat is equally punishable as using a cellular phone while driving, and the corresponding ¢103.679.77 colones (US$181) fine.
Calderon added that, in addition to a fine, the driver is at risk of being involved in an accident, because pets can be unpredictable and move abruptly, bite, get scared and jump out of windows, involuntary actions that can distract, hurt and scare the driver.
Also, Calderon recommends that the pet, dog for example, not stick their head out too far out the window as it could be hit by a port or another vehicle. Keeping the window partially closed is one way to limit the dog’s exposure or a cat or other pet jumping out of the vehicle.
On the other hand, the chief reminds never, ever leave a pet locked in a vehicle with the windows closed, as they could suffocate.
Riding with a pet in the back of an open vehicle, a pickup truck, for example, the chief recommends making sure the dog is adequately strapped in, giving it room to wiggle, but not too much that they can jump over the side, hang over the edge, that will result in strangulation.