Seat-belt your dog or face $1000 fine

We sounds absurd.

"Click-it-or-ticket" warns us that we can, and will, get caught if we drive without a seatbelt. Most if not all states have now made it a primary offense under pressure from the Federal Government.

But one state wants to extend the "click" to man's best friend riding in the passenger seat and sticking his head out the window.

Under New Jersey Statute 4:22-18, unrestrained pets in vehicles is an act of animal cruelty, and drivers who donâ??t secure their pooch in a pet seat belt will be subject to fines, ranging from $250 to $1,000 and as much as six months in jail.

"Thatâ??s for each offense,â?? Col. Frank Rizzo, police superintendent for the New Jersey Society for the Prevention of Animal Cruelty, said Wednesday, according to The Bergen Record,â??So, if you have more than one animal loose in your car, just do the mathâ?¦â??

â??Some people tell us they like to let their pets hang their heads out the window to take in the fresh air,â?? Rizzo said, â??but dogs and cats become projectiles in a crash.â??

Oddly...allowing adults to ride unrestrained in the back had not been considered worthy of penalty until the Legislature closed this loophole in December 2009, although back-seat restraints have long been required for children.

â??Itâ??s crazy,â?? said Les Goldstein, a former Clifton, N.J. cop who is coordinating a Memorial Day crackdown in North Jersey which continues through Sunday. â??It should be common sense.â??

â??Itâ??s much cheaper to invest about $25 in a restraint system than to deal with the consequences of a crash,â?? Administrator Ray Martinez told the Record as he helped hook Finley, his frisky golden retriever-poodle mix, into a harness.

Driver inattention is the leading cause of road deaths in New Jersey and nationally, according to 2010 National Highway Transportation Administration figures â?? 5,400 nationwide and 130 statewide.

NHTSA doesnâ??t tally animal deaths, but Rizzo noted that traditional safety devices can be lethal for unrestrained pets.

â??If you drive with your dog in your lap,â?? he said, â??imagine what happens if the airbag deploys.â??

Should states ticket and fine pet owners who fail to "buckle up" their pets when driving? Or is this just another government overreach?