What To Do If You Hit A Dog While Driving Your Car

It's not a pleasant thing to think about, but if you drive a car, there is always a possibility that you will hit a living thing with your vehicle. Sadly, almost 1.2 million dogs are killed each year in the U.S. in road traffic accidents. Do you know what you should do if you hit a dog with your car? It may not be pleasant to think about, but every driver should think about what they need to do in case they ever find themselves in this situation. Here's what to do if you hit a dog while driving your car.

Make sure it's safe to stop

If you're driving along a busy highway or interstate and a dog darts out in front of you, you may have no choice but to hit it. Unfortunately, this type of location also makes it difficult to safely stop and help the animal after the accident. If you hit a dog in a high traffic area such as this, don't try to rescue the dog yourself, but go ahead and call 911 so that a police officer can be dispatched to assist the dog.

If you are in a place where it's safe to stop, go ahead and do so. Pull your car off the road to avoid blocking traffic. Be careful when approaching the dog, because injured dogs often bite. If the dog is in the middle of the road or at a place in the road where it is likely to be hit again, you can try to move it out of the way of approaching traffic. This will not only prevent the dog from getting hit again, but it will also help prevent cars from having an accident while trying to avoid hitting the pooch. 

Moving the dog

It's a good idea to wrap the injured dog in a blanket in order to move it. This will prevent you coming into direct contact with any blood, if the dog is bleeding, and will help you gently restrain the dog so it doesn't further injure itself or you. Be aware that by moving the animal off the street, you are taking responsibility for its care from that point on. In some states, this could mean that if you move the dog and simply leave it on the side of the road, you could be charged with neglect and animal cruelty.

Getting medical treatment for the dog

If you can locate the dog's owner, do so. Check for a tag on its collar, if it's wearing one. If not, wait for the police to arrive and assist you in getting the animal to an emergency veterinarian or 24 hour animal hospital for care. It's best to wait for the police to help you, not only because the dog may struggle when you try to move it, but because a report will need to be filed regarding the accident. Whether you help the dog yourself, or wait for the police to come, don't leave the dog alone. You have an obligation to try and get help for the dog, even if you don't take it to a vet yourself.

If the dog dies

Sadly, many dogs that are hit by cars do not survive. If the dog you hit dies, you still need to try and locate its owner or alert the authorities. You aren't likely to be held responsible for the dog's death, as most places have laws in place to force pet owners to keep their dogs off of roads, but you should still call the police if you can't locate the dog's owner. The police can attempt to track down the owner and make note of the accident. They can also provide a police report, which you would need if you had to file a claim with your auto insurance company if your car was damaged by the accident.

In many cases, dogs can survive being hit by a car if they receive treatment from a vet right away. Don't leave a dog to suffer and die if you hit it with your car. Do the right thing, and attempt to get help for the creature as soon as possible.