what to do if you hit a dog with your car

While traveling on the freeway last week, I witnessed something terrible. I saw a dog get hit by a car, fly up in the air, and then hit by another car. It was incredibly sad to witness, and since I can't imagine the dog survived, I hope that he didn't suffer. One can only speculate about how the heck a dog got onto a multi-lane freeway in the first place. And what should be done? Though my instinct told me to stop to help, I wasn't willing to put myself at risk by attempting to cross such a busy roadway. I called 911 and was directed to animal control, whom I told the approximate location of the dog...it was all I could think to do. So I got to thinking and researching, what should you do if you hit a dog with your car?

 What to do if You Hit a Dog with Your Car–wellmindedpets.com

What to do if You Hit a Dog with Your Car–wellmindedpets.com

Both wild and domestic animals cause accidents on a fairly regular basis. But hitting a person's pet can have different emotional and moral implications, than, say, hitting a pigeon. 

you hit a dog. what should you do?

First thing's first. If you hit a dog, you should stop immediately. If you are on a highway, such as I was, and it would be dangerous to stop suddenly, immediately call 911 to report the incident. You will be put through to animal control.

Once you have stopped, move the dog out of the road, if you can safely do so. There are two reasons for this:

• to prevent further injury to the dog

• to prevent additional accidents from occurring as people swerve to avoid the dog

Always use caution when moving an injured dog. The animal is likely hurt, scared, and in distress, which can cause him to become aggressive. It's best to muzzle the dog in some way. You might loosely tie fabric around the muzzle or put a blanket loosely over the dog, which provides you some protection. 

Once the dog is safely out of harm's way, try to contact the owner. If there is no tag, you can call animal control or transport the dog to the nearest vet. The vet will be able to scan the dog for a microchip to try to identify the owner. 

Keep in mind that even if the dog looks okay, that might not be the case. The dog could be suffering from broken bones or internal injuries not outwardly visible. It is important that any dog that has been hit by a car get medical attention as soon as possible.

if i hit a dog, am i legally responsible?

In almost all cases, the owner of a loose dog is legally responsible. You are, however, required to do everything that is reasonable to help the dog, or you may be cited for animal cruelty, depending on your state's laws.

if i hit a dog, am i financially responsible?  

You are typically not financially responsible when if you hit a dog. It is the dog owner's responsibility to keep the dog under control, and if the dog gets lose and runs into the roadway, the owner is at fault. 

The dog owner's insurance policy will typically cover the cost of repair to your vehicle, and they are responsible for all vet bills. The dog owner may wish to pay out-of-pocket rather than file a claim. If the owner is uncooperative, you would most likely have a case in small claims court.

If the owner of the dog can not be located, your comprehensive coverage should cover the cost of repairs to your vehicle.

In the case of veterinary bills, if the owner can not be identified, the person who brought the dog in may be financially responsible. Be sure to discuss this with the vet so you know what to expect. Most vets will treat a dog in trauma, regardless, but it's best to know your financial responsibility in advance.

the bottom line

It is important to know your legal and financial responsibilities, if you hit a dog with your car. Regardless, I would hope that anyone who hit a dog would do the right thing–everything in their capability to help the dog while keeping themselves safe. 

when is it okay to let your dog off-leash?

Running free...romping...picture it in slow motion: tongue flapping in the wind, ears bouncing up and down, and that joyful look on your dog's face. Lovely, isn't it? Maybe. Maybe not. 

 When is it okay to let your dog off-leash? wellmindedpets.com

When is it okay to let your dog off-leash? wellmindedpets.com

when is it okay to let your dog off-leash?

In my professional opinion, it is okay to let your dog off-leash in public at two–and only two–times.

1. When you are in a place where it is legal and appropriate to do so and you have 100% complete proven verbal control of your dog. Meaning, if there was a steak dinner, a thrown frisbee, or a tempting playmate, your dog would not go toward it without your permission. He never fails to obey your command. Ever. 

2. When you are in a place where off-leash dogs are expected and encouraged. A dog park for example. Or a dog beach. 

Period. End of story.

let me tell you why

As you probably already know, I am a professional pet sitter and dog walker. I walk all kinds of dogs, and I see other people walking all kinds of dogs. When I am walking a client's dog, I have rules. 

• I do not allow my client's dog to socialize with other dogs. You just never know, and I don't ever want harm to come to a dog in my care.

• We never go off-leash, and we don't go to off-leash places. I'll take your dog hiking, jogging, or to the park, but we're going on a leash. I do not have 100% complete verbal control of your dog, so attached to me he stays. 

• I avoid off-leash dogs like the plague. Their owners almost never have verbal control of them, so I keep my distance.

This week I had two dog walking experiences, one positive and one negative. Ironically, I was walking the same dog, Thor*. This is a dog I regularly walk. I have great leash control of him, and if he gets excited about a passing bunny or kid on a bike, I make him sit until the enticement has passed. He listens to me, and we walk well together. I am extra careful with him because when I was first hired to walk him, his owner let me know that he was dog-aggressive, meaning he might harm another dog if contact is made. When I walk this particular dog, I am extremely careful to keep my head up, be aware of my surroundings, and keep control of him.

the wrong way 

The other morning, I took Thor to an open grassy area in the neighborhood in which he lives. Though he was on his leash, the large, open space gave us a chance to romp and play rather than just walk up and down the sidewalk. About twenty yards away, I heard a car pull up. A lady got out, and I didn't think much of it, but then she opened one of the back doors, and three Labs popped out, none of them leashed. All three ran toward us. I immediately made Thor sit, but the rush of canine coming toward us was too much for him to sustain the position. I yelled "NO! NO! NO!" but the dogs wouldn't stop. I yelled at the lady: "He's not friendly!" She tried to call her dogs back and they sort-of listened, but then just ignored her. I screamed at her "GET CONTROL OF YOUR DOGS RIGHT NOW!" All the while, trying to move us in the opposite direction.

We escaped unscathed, but talk about a frightening adrenaline rush. 

That lady did not have control of her dogs. Thor could have fought with one or all of them, and any one of the four dogs could have been injured or killed. I could have been injured in the middle of it. The whole situation was a mess. She was in an area where it is not permitted to have dogs off-leash, and we weren't expecting it. I still get angry just thinking about it. It was completely irresponsible of her to create that situation. 

Even if your dog is friendly, not every dog is. It is not okay to allow your dog to approach another dog without permission. And that leads me to the positive experience I had this week...

the right way

Just a couple of days later, Thor and I were walking down the sidewalk (avoiding the nice open grassy area) and I noticed a man with a dog on a leash walking in the opposite direction toward us. I crossed the street to put some distance between us as we passed, and I made Thor sit while they passed. The gentleman stopped directly across the street from us and asked "is your dog friendly?" 

I replied "I'm sorry, he's not friendly with other dogs. Thank you so much for asking."

He nodded his head in an understanding way, and we both went on with our peaceful walks. Faith in humanity partially restored.

when in doubt, pull the leash out

Allowing your dog to be off-leash is risky. It's risky for your dog, for you, and for others. If your dog wants to romp free, find a place where others expect dogs to be off-leash. No matter how well you know your own dog, you don't know that dog you may encounter. A little bit of freedom isn't worth the potential price.  

* names have been changed in the interest of privacy

RELATED

i believe in leashes: my story

pets and domestic violence

Did you know that a large majority of victims of domestic violence hesitate to leave their situation out of concern for their pets?  There is a strong link between domestic violence and animal abuse, and offenders of domestic violence typically abuse all members of the household, including pets. Since many shelters do not accept pets, it can be a gut-wrenching decision for victims to leave their pets behind with their abuser. 

 Pets and Domestic Violence

Pets and Domestic Violence

the impact of pets in domestic violence situations

Since the link between animal abuse and domestic violence is so strong, it is likely that a perpetrator of domestic violence will also abuse the animals in the home. According to animal advocacy group RedRover, most animal abuse occurs in the presence of human victims in the home in order to psychologically control or coerce them. Threats against household pets can be powerful in controlling victims and keeping them quiet about the abusive situation. 

In a violent home, pets may suffer injuries, health problems, permanent disabilities, or may disappear from the home entirely or be killed.

Here are some interesting statistics from the American Humane Association:

• 71% of pet-owning women entering women's shelters reported that their batterer had injured, maimed, killed or threatened family pets for revenge or to psychologically control victims.

• 68% of battered women reported violence toward their animals. 87% of these incidents occurred in the presence of the women and 75% in the presence of the children.

• 13% of intentional animal abuse cases involve domestic violence.

• Between 25% and 40% of battered women are unable to escape abusive situations because they worry about what will happen to their pets should they leave.

• For many battered women, pets are sources of comfort, providing strong emotional support: 98% of Americans consider pets to be companions or members of the family.

• A child growing up in the U.S. is more likely to have a pet than a live-at-home-father. 

• Battered women have been known to live in their cars with their pets for as long as four months until an opening was available at a pet-friendly safe house.

the link between domestic violence and animal abuse

According to the ASPCA, and other resources, there is a strong link between domestic violence and animal abuse. In fact, a history of pet abuse is one of the top four indicators of risk for being a perpetrator of domestic violence. Those who abuse animals are typically more dangerous, violent and controlling than those who do not. Since so many women (though men can also be victims of domestic violence, it is most often women and children who are at risk) delay leaving an abusive situation out of concern for the pets in the household, it is vitally important that we provide resources for families with pets. 

In addition, the ASPCA cites other shocking facts about animal abuse and domestic violence. Children exposed to domestic violence are three times more likely to be cruel to animals, which seems to perpetuate the cycle of abuse. Interestingly, the Chicago Police Department found that 30% of people arrested for animal abuse had domestic violence charges already on record.

why do abusers batter animals?

According to the ASPCA, there are several reasons abusers batter animals:

• to demonstrate power and control over the family

• to isolate the victim and children

• to enforce submission

• to perpetuate an environment of fear

• to prevent the victim from leaving or coerce her to return

• to punish for leaving or showing independence

what can you do?

What got me thinking about all of this? I was listening to The Mathew Blades Morning Show here in Phoenix the other day, and I heard him talking about his support of the Sojourner Center. He announced that he will be the emcee of their upcoming 14th Annual Hope Luncheon on October 29th. 

Blades spoke about how the Sojourner Center supports women with pets by allowing them to stay together. The victims of domestic violence can bring their pets with them to the shelter, which can provide safety for the pets and comfort and peace of mind to the women and children seeking refuge from their abusive situation. 

You can attend the luncheon, volunteer with the Sojourner Center or donate to the organization. 

resources & help

The Sojourner Center

The National Domestic Violence Hotline

RedRover–bringing animals from crisis to care

Safe Place for Pets–a RedRover project with the National Link Coalition and Sheltering Animals and Families Together

If you or someone you know is a victim of domestic violence, please seek help.

will your pet be safe if a natural disaster strikes? #NatlPrep #giveaway

This weekend marks the tenth anniversary of Hurricane Katrina. I can't believe it's been that long. Hitting the Atlantic coast and costing over 1,800 lives, it was one of the five deadliest hurricanes in the history of the United States. Families with pets faced torturous decisions, as no provisions had been made for pets in such a disaster. Many people were forced to leave their pets behind, which was a huge emotional blow in such a time of crisis, not to mention the health and safety risks the situation posed to the pets. Some people refused to evacuate without their pets, which further complicated rescue efforts. In all, over 600,000 pets died or found themselves homeless, and almost half (44%) of people who refused to evacuate said they did not leave because they were not allowed to bring their pets. 

 Will your pet be safe if a natural disaster strikes?

Will your pet be safe if a natural disaster strikes?

PETS Act

Hurricane Katrina was the catalyst for the PETS Act–the Pets Evacuation and Transportation Standards Act. The act had bipartisan support in both houses, and the legislation passed quickly through Congress and was signed into law in October 2006. It ensures that state and local emergency planning addresses the needs of households with pets.

our hurricane katrina rescue dog

In addition to the lives lost and families displaced by Hurricane Katrina, many animals found themselves astray. The stray animal population was too much for the Gulf Coast area to handle, especially as they began a long process toward recovery, so animals were sent to shelters and rescue groups all over the United States in hopes that by dispersing the stray population, more animals would find homes. Our dog, N.A.S.H.A. was one of those dogs. 

 Our dog, N.A.S.H.A., is a Hurricane Katrina rescue.

Our dog, N.A.S.H.A., is a Hurricane Katrina rescue.

We adopted N.A.S.H.A. in September of 2005 when she was just a pup. She was with a rescue group that had taken on a large number of strays left homeless in the wake of the hurricane. My step-son, B, and I walked past her crate, and she went nuts. We watched from afar as others passed her crate and noticed that she only got excited when we walked by. B asked if we could take her out and hold her. That's when I knew we were in trouble. We weren't even thinking of adding another dog to the family. She chose us, and we couldn't deny her. 

do you have a plan in place for your pets if disaster strikes?

Thanks in big part to the PETS Act, our animal companions are now being considered when disaster strikes, but many of us don't have a emergency plan for our pets. Whether you live in a place where a hurricane or tornado could strike, you live in earthquake country, or you live in a place that could flood in a matter of moments during monsoon season (that's us), it's important to have a solid plan in place for your pets. 

We're working with the ASPCA to help spread the word about disaster preparedness for families with pets. They have created a handy infographic to break down the most important things to consider:

september is national preparedness month–take the pledge and enter to win a disaster preparedness pack

September is national preparedness month. Are you prepared to take care of your pets in a natural disaster? Are our pets safer than they were ten years ago when Hurricane Katrina struck? Join me in taking the pledge to prepare for your pets in the event of an emergency by clicking here.

 Enter to win this ASPCA Disaster Preparedness Pack.

Enter to win this ASPCA Disaster Preparedness Pack.

The ASPCA has generously offered to give a Disaster Preparedness Pack to one of our readers! The pack includes:

• emergency ready pet first aid kit

• Subaru roll-up picnic blanket

• Subaru penguin umbrella

With this pack, there's no excuse not to be prepared.

Have you and your pets been through a natural disaster? Are you prepared to care for your pets in the event of an emergency? Please tell us about it.



the aspca reminds us about summer safety for pets: the top 5 summer hazards

With good reason, we often focus our pet safety efforts around 4th of July celebrations. The threat is real, as more pets go missing on that day of the year than any other. They flee because they are frightened and don't understand the loud noises from fireworks and the like. In addition to Independence Day dangers, summer, as a whole, can be a dangerous time for pets, so there are other summer hazards we need to consider. The ASPCA has created an infographic outlining the top five. 

 The ASPCA reminds us of the top five summer hazards for pets. Please keep your pets safe this season!

The ASPCA reminds us of the top five summer hazards for pets. Please keep your pets safe this season!

consider your particular climate and protect your pets from summer hazards

Here in Phoenix, Arizona, where temps commonly reach over 110° throughout the summer, we take special care to make sure our pets are safe. Though the extreme heat may seem more hazardous to our pets (and it can be if we don't take precautions), sometimes I think the extreme heat is a benefit. We don't mess around. There is NO QUESTION that our pets should not be left in a car or stand on concrete that can burn your skin off in a matter of seconds. Responsible pet owners keep their pets indoors, keep them well hydrated, and keep them protected.

In other regions, where it gets hot, but to a lesser degree, pets may be in even more danger. We may not think it's hazardous to keep Fido outside for an all-day celebration in 85° weather, but, in reality, he can become distressed and dehydrated quickly.

It's important to be mindful of your particular climate and know how it will affect your pets. Take all necessary precautions, as your pets are depending on you. 

How do you keep your pets safe during the summer?