Dogs and backs of pickup trucks don’t mix

The Joplin Globe
By Mike Pound – Globe columnist

So we’ve got this war going on; everyone is mad at the secretary of defense; that guy in Iran is acting like a nut; gas is higher than Ricky Williams; and the Cardinals got clobbered Tuesday night.

There’s a lot of important stuff going on in the world, is what I’m saying, which is why I have decided to speak out on a very important topic facing this country right now: people who let their dogs ride in the back of their pickup trucks.

I’m not talking about people who let their farm dogs hop up into the back of their pickup trucks while they drive from pasture to pasture checking things out. I understand that. It makes me nervous, but I understand it.

I’m talking about folks who let their dogs hop in the back of their pickup trucks and decide to tool around on Seventh Street or zoom on down the highway.

Call me crazy, but I don’t think that’s necessarily in the best interest of the dog. Sure, the dog looks happy, but ask a dog how happy he is after he gets tossed out of a truck going 40 mph.

Jim Christman hasn’t actually spoken to a dog that has been thrown from a pickup truck, but he has treated several. Jim – or Dr. Christman, as he’s known at Parkview Animal Hospital – said it’s not uncommon for folks to bring dogs to his office that have been tossed from trucks.

"A lot of times the story is something like, ‘Well, he’s ridden in the truck before and he was OK,’ but it only takes one time, and usually the injuries are fairly severe," Jim said. "We see a lot of fractures and broken legs. It is dangerous."

See, the other day I was sitting at the intersection of Seventh Street and St. Louis Avenue, and in front of me was a guy in a pickup truck who had a big, black Labrador mix standing in the bed of his truck. And like always, the dog looked happy as he checked out the car next to him and a guy walking on the sidewalk. Then the light changed and the truck lurched forward, which, of course, caused the dog to briefly lose his balance.

But that’s not the worst. The worst – and I also saw this on Seventh Street this week – are the people who let their dogs stand on top of those big, metal toolboxes that sit directly behind the truck cab. I don’t mean to sugarcoat things, but that is monumentally stupid. I want to call the people who let their dogs stand on the big, metal toolboxes in the back of their trucks *&^% idiots, but I’ve been trying to work on my temper lately, so I’ll just call them idiots.


Jim has seen the same thing, and it never ceases to amaze him.

"(The dog) doesn’t even have the protection of the (truck) bed," he said. "It’s incredible."

So you know, Jim is a pretty understanding guy. Like me, he separates folks who cruise city streets with their dogs bouncing around in the back of their trucks from the folks who are tooling around the farm.

"Even I realize that dogs on a farm riding in the back of a truck from pasture to pasture is a different situation than on a main thoroughfare," Jim said. "There is a difference. For one thing, there usually aren’t any other vehicles."

In the interest of fair disclosure, I should mention that I spent many years on the board of directors of the Joplin Humane Society, so I guess that makes me somewhat of a bleeding heart when it comes to things like this. But I swear, the one thing I learned in all my years working with the Humane Society is that there were times when we would have been better off euthanizing the pet owners instead of the pets.

That’s not part of official Humane Society policy, by the way.

But still.

Look, I don’t really think that all the people who let their dogs ride in the back of pickup trucks in town or on the highway are bad people, and I don’t think they actually want to see their dogs get hurt.

So to all you people who let your dogs ride in the back of your pickup trucks in town or on the highway who are not bad people and who don’t actually want to see your dogs get hurt, do me a favor. Stop it.