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The Courier Post Online is reporting a battle of legislators regarding the issue of driving with pets in a moving vehicle.

According to The Courier Post Online, a north Jersey assemblywoman proposed last week a bill that would require pets in a moving vehicle to be restrained. However, nine other Assembly members opposed the bill and are pushing a measure to allow pets to be unrestrained while in a moving vehicle.

A press conference was held in early 2012 by the New Jersey Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals, which is serving as the catalyst for both bills.  During the press conference, the animal welfare group warned that drivers who have unrestrained pets in their vehicles could endanger other drivers. They also shared that New Jersey SPCA officers could stop and ticket drivers that “improperly transport” an animal.

However, many people were confused over the interpretation of the state law and what drivers are required to follow. Assemblywoman L. Grace Spencer, a Newark Democrat is sponsoring a bill that requires pets to be restrained.  Spencer’s belief is that unrestrained pets can be of more of a distraction than a cell phone.

In contrast, the competing bill specifies that failing to restrain a pet is not “cruel or inhuman transport” and that would, in turn; avoid prosecution for disorderly people under state law.

Assembly Agriculture and Natural Resources Committee will be next to take action on the bills. According to the Courier Post Online, The NJSPCA has not taken a formal stand on the competing bills, but it does urge pet owners to secure animals while driving.

The NJSPCA spokesman, Matthew Stanton, stated, “We think people should use common sense” and described the issue as “small potatoes,” referencing that NJSPA officers have issued only about 20 tickets for improperly transported animals in the past six years.

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