I ran over a stray dog with my car... now what?? (US)

As I was driving home from work tonight, I saw a large white dog one half second before my left front wheel of my car went over it. (Even if I could have had the time to slam on the brakes, the dog would be knocked out at least)

After I re-collected my self, I finished my errands and went home. Do I have any legal responsibillity with the dog? I hope not, as I left the scene.

This is my first and I hope the last time running over anything in the road.

Did you get out to check on it? Are you sure it was dead? It might have been good to see if it had a collar so you could notify the owners. If not, you might call Animal Control and let them know.

I don’t know if any of that is legally required. But it seems the proper thing thing to do.

who just goes about their business? you do that when its a squirrel. im pretty sure in MA you have to call someone and let them know. Dogs are like people in that aspect

I don’t believe you have a legal responsibility, but certainly a moral one.

IMHO, you should have stopped, checked on the condition of the dog and tried to locate it’s owner. In a rural area, you would not have had to stop at too many homes, nor in a neighborhood as everyone generally knows who owns which pet.

I’m also of the opinion that if the pet is close to death and suffering terribly, that you should do the humane thing and end it’s life. Our 16 year old cat was run over in the last year and I wish they had put her out of her misery, rather than leaving her to suffer. Her expression was frozen into one of sheer terror and misery :frowning: Rather than allow our children one last time to say their goodbyes to her, she had to buried in a “closed pillowcase” ceremony.

I hope you make a better choice next time.

Leave it there the cat’ll get it

(Ralph Kramden)

In the future, definitely try to do something. But from my experience, your reaction was normal. When I was a kid, I saw one of my friend’s neighbors run over his cat while we were all standing in the yard, stop and look in his rearview mirror, then keep driving. And this was his neighbor who knew the family and knew who the cat belonged to. So my friend’s older brother got his baseball bat and smashed out some windows in his house.

Another time, I hit a dog (almost full grown pit bull). I stopped, got out to make sure he was all right, and he was still breathing. So me and my friends just kinda stood around him for a few minutes (I’ve heard it’s a bad idea to touch an injured animal- especially a large dog like this) to make sure no other cars hit him, and in a few minutes he woke up, stood up, and started to run away. We followed him because we didn’t him wandering off and dying of internal injuries or something, but this kid came out of a nearby house and it turned out to be his dog. So we explained the situation and told him he should probably take the dog to the vet to make sure he was ok.

But what really pissed me off was that while we were trying to prevent him from getting hit by more cars, everyone was honking and yelling at us like we were idiots for standing in the road. So many people did it that I started yelling about how I was going to come to their house and run over their pet.

But yeah, if you run over a squirrel or a pigeon, keep driving. If it’s a dog or cat, though, see if it’s ok and try and find the owner.

I agree, but I have to ask - how, exactly, should this have been done? I doubt Meeko carries a gun.

Sure, he could transport the dying dog to the nearest veteranarian, but the dog’s body could have exposed bowels, could be bleeding profusely, could have extremeties detached, etc. I don’t think his vehicle is equipped to carry an animal in such a condition.

He could also call animal control, but they’re not exactly an emergency service. They’re not going to rush to the site of the accident, sirens blaring. In the time it takes them to arrive on scene, the dog could die.

So, yeah, the humane thing to do would be to put an end to its misery, but under the circumstances, I think this is easier said than done.

“the humane thing to do would be to put an end to its misery, but under the circumstances, I think this is easier said than done.”

Not to get too graphic but Mr. Adoptamom is a carpenter by trade and usually has a tool (shovel, etc) in his truck that will put the animal out of it’s misery quickly. I try not to ask too many questions of his procedure because I’m very squeamish. He travels 75+ rural miles daily and I can usually tell by his sad demeanor if he’s had to be merciful on the way home from work.


That was a rotten, heartless thing to do. Hitting the dog may have been unavoidable, but your reaction says a lot about who you really are deep down inside.

I feel sorry for the dog, but even sorrier for you.

I think you’re being a bit hard on Meeko–sounds like he was in shock and is upset about it as it as.

As for you, Adoptamom_II, how often does your husband come home with a dark look and blood-covered carptentry tools?!

“As for you, Adoptamom_II, how often does your husband come home with a dark look and blood-covered carptentry tools?!”

Oh, about twice a year on average I’d say … You’d be surprised at the number of folks who will leave a small deer or dog suffering on the side of the road. If there is no hope of getting them to a vet in time, what would you have him do instead?? Leave them to suffer?

FWIW - our only dog (our other one, a 16 year old Lab died this month) is a stray that he picked up in a rural area. The puppy was about four months old, starved to skin and bones with a broken front paw that someone threw out. He worked with this puppy for 15 minutes just to get her in our car (yes, I was with him this time). We brought her to the vet, fixed her up, and she is now my 11 year old daughters best friend. There is a happy ending sometimes…

You’re supposed to report it to the police in my state

The problem with stopping and trying to locate the owner is that some pet owners are a little nutty when it comes to their pets and will go ballistic on you if you tell them “um, I hit your dog” and start demanding that you pay for the vet bill and/or threatening to sue you for mental anguish and all that other garbage. It might be the “right” thing to do, but stopping and telling on yourself isn’t all that bright, especially if you don’t have the cash for doggy surgery at the vet’s. The dog ran right out in front of you; there’s nothing you could have done and I don’t think you are in the least bit obligated to tromp around for hours on end trying to find the owner. It’s unfortunate that it got hit, but it shouldn’t have been running around loose in the first place.

I’ve been in this position myself, and I don’t blame you for being nervous enough to leave the scene. It’s shocking as hell when something like that happens.

About two years ago, I hit a neighbor’s dog not a hundred feet from my house. I heard him run off, but I could tell from what was left on the side of my car that he wouldn’t live long at all. (I hope not, anyway.) The man who owned the dog, however, would certainly have gotten violent with me if I’d told him what happened, so I just drove on. It’s difficult to make the call sometimes. I just hope the dog didn’t have anyone genuinely attached to him.

People are crazy nowadays. If I hit another dog today and was sure there wasn’t any helping him, I still might not tell anybody. I hope I never have to make that decision again.

But to answer your question, you have no legal responsibility if no one saw you, right?

I can’t recommend killing the animal at all. The lawsuit could be a bank buster. Humane thing to do? Yes.
Smart thing in a country with loads of scumball lawyers looking for work? No.

In California, I believe it is a jail-able offense to kill a dog. And if the owner wants to sue you for lack-of-companionship, pain-and-suffering, or some other crap thier lawyer can come up with, you’ll go broke defending against it.

So you hit a dog and just left? Personally I am appalled. Anyone who does that needs to seriously re-examine his/her life. Whether or not dogs mean anything to you doesn’t mean that they don’t have any worth. That dog could still have been alive. You should have done everything you could. Replace “dog” woth a human, and you get the picture. Are you so cuaght up in your own life and world that you can’t even help another living creature that feels the same pain as you?

You asked what to do next. The answer is to seriously re-examine your life. After you do that, adopt a dog from a shelter to repay for what you did.

In my state, it’s the dog’s owner that could be sued, not the driver. My mother had the misfortune to hit a dog while riding a motorcycle. The owner was liable for all of the damages, and my mother was advised that she was in no way liable for vet bills, since the dog was “running at large.”

There are no legal requirements in NM that I could find. Given potentially violent and lawsuit happy pet owners, the intelligent thing would be to keep on trucking.

We live in Nevada. My brother was ticketed a while back for hitting a dog and leaving the scene. Apparently you are required to call the police or animal control when you do so.

A couple years later, a cat ran out in front of my car and I hit it. I stopped and looked, but it had disappeared. I called animal control and left a voice mail (they don’t have live people answering the phone all the time in this small town, apparently); an hour or so later an officer called me back and told me she’d go check it out.

Another hour passed and I got another call back. She had found what she described as “a large amount of blood” in the road, large enough that she doubted the cat had lived long after the impact, but she couldn’t find the body. She said that I did the right thing by calling, because there was a chance the cat could have been injured and in need of help, but that it legally wasn’t my fault, it was the owner’s fault for letting it run loose. That didn’t make me feel much better, but at least I wasn’t in any legal trouble.

If the cat had been injured and accessible, and if it was obviously going to die, I feel I would have had a moral obligation to end its suffering. As for how to do that – good question. I don’t really carry any tools, and I don’t think I could stand using a shovel or a hammer on a cat or dog. Probably the best way to do it would be to run over the animal again, but in a way that would kill it instantly instead of leaving it injured and suffering.

I sure hope I never have to deal with that … but on the other hand, it seems pretty selfish to hope that an animal will be well enough to run off and die slowly and painfully just to spare myself the emotional pain of having to kill it. I don’t know. It’s all too complicated for this time of night.

You know, blood and shit both wash out. Trust me, I wash both out of my clothing on a regular basis, as well as helping people clean them out of their car interiors. That’s not a valid excuse to leave a sentient being to suffer. And yeah, the poor creature might die before animal control comes. But it might not. It might lay there suffering for a day or more, until it finally dies from dehydration, shock, and pain. We see quite a lot of those cases, unfortunately.

You want to talk easier said than done? Try telling someone that if they’d found their pet immediately after the accident or if the person who’d hit it had brought it in, you probably could have saved it, but as it is there’s no hope at all. Listen to the agonized shrieks of an animal that’s been lying on the side of the road, bloody and broken, for the last several hours. Look into the faces of people listening to their pet shriek like that because somebody like you decided it was easier said than done to get some help for the animal. Trust me, it’s a whole lot easier to load a bloody carcass into your car than to do any of those things.