The Fairleigh Dickinson University PublicMind poll of 901 registered voters, conducted Sept. 6-12, found 45 percent of respondents support a state Assembly bill that would require pets to be in restraints or crates during car trips, with 40 percent saying they oppose the bill, The (Newark, N.J.) Star-Ledger reported Wednesday.
The measure would carry a $20 fine for violations and could lead to animal cruelty charges bearing fines of up to $1,000.
Assemblywoman Grace Spencer, D-Essex, the bill's sponsor, said police in East Brunswick believe an unrestrained dog may have contributed to an incident leading to the deaths of two pedestrians.
"Not to trivialize text messaging, but people didn't think people having cellular phones in cars were going to be a problem until they became a problem," Spencer said. "How many people died or were in accidents prior to the legislation being written?"
A competing bill from Assemblyman Jay Webber, R-Morris, would clarify failing to restrain pets in cars does not constitute animal cruelty.
"These proposals have received both attention and ridicule," said Dan Cassino, a professor of political science at Fairleigh Dickinson and poll analyst. "But it seems like New Jersey voters are taking this seriously."
The poll had a margin of error of plus or minus 3.3 percentage points.