Cut Lauren Book some slack
Image via AP.

Dog in car window.
It turns out canine injuries are quite common for dogs hanging their heads out car windows.

Full confession: When I first saw the post about Sen. Lauren Book’s bill to make it a crime to allow a dog to hang their heads out of car windows, I did more than my fair share of eye rolling.

My first thought was a simple, “Really? With all that is going on, the chief Senate Democrat wants to make it a crime to let Fido enjoy a ride to the beach?”

But upon further reflection, as they say, I am reconsidering my first reaction and ask the readers of this post to do likewise, for a few reasons.

First, it turns out that canine injuries are quite common for those pups.

“People are going to poke fun no matter what,” wrote animal activist Renee Rivard in an email to Senators. “I have heard all kinds of stories of dogs jumping out of car windows. I personally saw that happen a month ago at a park I was at — a dog hanging his head out the window jumped out the window and charged two dogs on leashes in the park.”

That shows this isn’t just a matter of animal endangerment, but also road safety.

“Start asking people if they have ever seen dogs jump out of car windows,” Rivard suggested to lawmakers. “You will hear lots of stories like I did.”

The roads also do put the animals at risk, with debris frequently hurting dogs as they lap up 40 and 50 mph winds.

Honestly, most people, if they think about it, will realize letting dogs do this is a bad idea, Norman Rockwell paintings aside.

As the suggestion for the bill was brought forth by a consortium of veterinarians, I have to defer to their expertise and presume they know what they are talking about.

I say this even as Book herself has vowed to remove that provision from the bill.

Second, Book’s bill is much broader than the tweets suggest. It is a comprehensive look at a variety of veterinarian-inspired changes to Florida law which currently allows several cruel actions by pet owners, from declawing of cats to putting dogs on the roof (Mitt Romney style, I presume) and other such acts. It allows for registering animal abusers, who often go on to commit other, more heinous crimes.

Third, yes, she is the Senate Democratic Leader, and yes, she is a serious person who tackles serious issues. We should all take note that this (soon-to-be-removed) provision of an overall serious piece of legislation is but one of the issues the Leader is taking on this Session. Issues like paid family leave, death with dignity and more are top priorities for Book — and for many in the state.

After the chuckling about dogs enjoying an olfactory rush, it’s time we step off the critical ledge and give the Senator her due. And, in the meantime, as she has suggested, maybe we all invest in a good pair of “doggles.”

Peter Schorsch

Peter Schorsch is the President of Extensive Enterprises Media and is the publisher of, INFLUENCE Magazine, and Sunburn, the morning read of what’s hot in Florida politics. Previous to his publishing efforts, Peter was a political consultant to dozens of congressional and state campaigns, as well as several of the state’s largest governmental affairs and public relations firms. Peter lives in St. Petersburg with his wife, Michelle, and their daughter, Ella. Follow Peter on Twitter @PeterSchorschFL.


  • Renee Rivard

    February 24, 2023 at 11:44 am

    Thank you for this article. Hopefully this has brought awareness on how to keep our dogs and our roads safer!

  • Earl Pitts American

    February 24, 2023 at 1:53 pm

    Good Afternoon Amarica,

    Laws against dogs sticking their heads out of windows?
    My big ‘ole butt !!!!
    Whats next?
    Laws limiting my mas+urbation time to just 6 or 7 times a day?
    The Florida Republicans better just say NO to Miss Busy Body Book.
    Thank you America,
    Earl Pitts American

  • Michele Lazarow

    February 24, 2023 at 2:09 pm

    The problem is bills like this do not have a chance of passing with this Legislature and most of these sponsors know this. All bills like this do is muddy the waters for legislation proffered by legitimate animal welfare groups which can have a real impact on animal abuse in Florida.
    Legislators should make decisions on which bills to sponsor based on real data and potential for passage, not feel good nonsense. I could go into a number of reasons why most of this bill isn’t necessary. For Florida animals, the only issue which offers real protection and has real documentation behind it is the declawing provision. The rest of it is a lot of fluff.
    In addition, people should look at Book’s voting record on the protection of puppy mill puppies. Might be a little hypocritical for her to be the sponsor of such legislation.

    • Renee Rivard

      February 24, 2023 at 11:08 pm

      Hallandale Beach Commissioner Michele Lazarow made a post about Senator Book: “She votes every single session to protect Petland.” I am not aware of any Petland legislation going in front of Book the last two years so I don’t think that statement is true. Can you give which years and which committees she voted to protect Petland? Would like to check the facts. Would also like to know if Lazarow’s animal organization is a “legitimate animal welfare group”—is it in current legal standing?

      • Michele Lazarow

        February 25, 2023 at 12:40 pm

        Tsk Tsk Renee. That’s because you still do not understand how state preemption works. Google SB 60 and SB 620, but most important CS/SB 994: Pet Protection, 2022. Do your own research which committees since you are the one challenging me. What kind of a Democrat Senator votes FOR statewide preemption which protects pet stores? Check her finance reports. She took contributions from Petland/Marquez, money she certainly did NOT need running unopposed. That is what we call “blood money”.
        You are the reason why Hillsborough County pet stores can continue to flourish and sell pets without concern. You are like “Pig Pen”, there is mess all around you.
        You shouldn’t worry about what standing my organization is in. I am not soliciting contributions. I was too busy actually fighting and beating Florida Petland owner Luis Marquez in a three year lawsuit so you continue your “activism” in Florida. Therefore, I had to suspend my work until it was over.
        You should have learned by now not to challenge me in this area. I do not open my mouth unless I have facts, not emotion, to support my claims.

  • TLH Dog Lover

    February 25, 2023 at 8:02 am

    If the problem is dogs jumping out of windows, then a law may be needed to impose on the driver of the vehicle a fine for allowing this to happen. The over-reach of Senator Book’s bill is shocking.

    Predawn, I’ve transpored my dogs, unharnessed, in the back of my SUV for over 20 years, ten minutes each way at speeds no more than 45 mph, and they stick their heads out the windows when they like, which isn’t much. I close the windows if a distraction approaches, like a dog walking on the sidewalk or side of the road. No vision problems, no escapes, no second collisions in auto accidents. Nothing except a couple of chewed backseat belts, which I dutifully replaced.

    This bill is not pro-dog. All it would do is deprive my dogs of a morning adventure that they love and greatly enriches their lives.

    This proposed legislation from a leading light of the Democratic party is shocking enough that I intend to change my registration from Democrat to independent.

    • Michele Lazarow

      February 25, 2023 at 12:42 pm

      She is termed out soon. Don’t change it quite yet, please.

  • Catherine Wallace MS

    February 25, 2023 at 12:55 pm

    I am a regional director for an organization called Florida Death with Dignity. We have been tirelessly educating the public and our legislators about an end of life option that is missing in Florida called Medical Aid in Dying. Terminally ill individuals with a prognosis of six month or less left to live who have met the strict eligibility criteria should be allowed to decide how much suffering they wish to endure and for how long. Terminally ill residents of Florida deserve to have all the end of life options available for consideration. Our Florida Governor has built his political image around protecting freedoms, individual liberties and autonomous choices. It takes a strong legislator to move forward with this important end of life issue so I applaud Senator Book for filing SB864. It is time the state of Florida join the ten states plus Washington DC where Medical Aid in Dying is legal, and allow terminally ill individuals access to this compassionate end of life option.

  • Jim

    February 25, 2023 at 4:58 pm

    My immediate reaction was negative. With so many racial and gun violence issues in America, why would anyone waste time on such a non-issue. I love dogs but seriously, if all pets were removed from the planet, it wouldn’t affect the food chain at all, other than the pet food chains.
    But if you removed the gun crisis and resolved race issues (Book, to her credit, has introduced several anti-confederate bills), then these are the kind of bills we’d be focused on. These are the type of laws that are introduced in a normal world, where people don’t get shot at school or at traffic stops.
    Maybe, just maybe, Ms. Book is simply carrying on with the normal stuff and accomplishing what she can, while she waits for the rest of the senate to do something gun and race issues.

  • tom palmer

    February 25, 2023 at 7:35 pm

    Renee Rivard also advocates allowing free range feral cats to decimate the bird population. Consider the source.

  • Scott Sonnier

    February 26, 2023 at 10:30 am

    Cut Lauren Book some slack? Dream on! She deserve to be in prison along with her crooked lobbyist father.

  • Sfs Gault

    March 3, 2023 at 2:13 pm

    OMG! Florida is paying Lauren Book a s—t ton of money to create idiotic laws about dogs enjoying the wind on their face while in a car! Dogs love the wind on their faces. Dear God! How about earning your pay and homing in on important issues such as access to excellent education for kids! Affordable housing and health care!

Comments are closed.


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