A bill that proposed strict rules that would force owners to restrain dogs in cars has been withdrawn.

The bill, sponsored by Rep. Jim Handy, D-Lewiston, would have required dog owners to leash or tether dogs while in a moving car, prohibit dogs from sitting between a driver and steering wheel or passenger and dashboard, and prohibit allowing dogs to ride with their head out the window. The proposal was denounced by some as “nanny state” overreach and supported by those in favor of stronger safety for pets and drivers.

In a statement, Handy said he submitted the bill at the request of a constituent who has since asked him not to pursue it.

“After being approached by a member of my community concerned about animal safety, particularly in car accidents, I decided to submit legislation requiring dogs to be restrained in their owners’ vehicles,” Handy said. “As a dog owner myself, I had reservations about whether that’s a good idea from the beginning, but it’s my job as a legislator to hear and represent the concerns of my constituents. I have heard from the constituent who had requested the bill and he has made the decision not to pursue the passage of this bill.”

Maine’s distracted driving law already applies to motor vehicle operators who drive with a pet in their lap. Veterinarians recommend keeping dogs in a crate while traveling in a moving vehicle. In the case of a crash, unrestrained dogs can be injured or killed.

Peter McGuire can be contacted at 791-6325 or [email protected]

Twitter: @PeteL_McGuire