You hit a dog on an interstate. What's the right thing to do?

This happened to my mother-in-law very recently. I don’t know many of the details, but I’ll share with you what I do know.

She was in the left lane on I-95 in North Carolina. She was travelling 75-80 mph. Without sufficient time to react safely, a dog emerged from the bushes in the median and came in contact with my mother-in-law’s car. The contact was not incidental. She believes the dog is dead. She did not stop/slow before hitting the dog. She did not stop after hitting the dog.

The size of the dog is unknown. The car was not damaged, or at least not damaged enough to be worthy of reporting back to the family. In other words, there may be minor cosmetic damage, but car remains fully drivable/road-worthy.

What should she have done? Did she have any legal obligations? I thought she should’ve at least pulled over and gone back to assess that the dog was dead, and report the accident to authorities (even anonymously, if only to have road crews remove the carcass and eliminate danger to other drivers).

On an interstate? I would have kept on driving.

Same here.

Here too. It stinks, but what’s the alternative? Pulling over on the interstate is inherently dangerous - unless you can’t keep driving safely, you just don’t do that. And there’s no way to safely render aid for a wounded dog in the middle of an interstate.

I guess, if you really wanted, you could call animal control after exiting the interstate and pulling over in a safe place. But they’d be unlikely to do much more than make a note to remove the body, for the reasons already mentioned.

The dog is dead, and if it isn’t, the next car will finish the job.

Stopping a car on the freeway is a good way to add a human being to the death toll.

My wife and I encountered a pair of dogs, one apparently recently hit and injured and the other running around it, a while back also coincidentally on I-95 in NC. We notified the NCHP about the situation because it was causing a hazard, but there was no way in hell I was going to pull over given the cars and trucks swerving onto the shoulders and such.

It’s cold but you keep driving. It’s more dangerous to have a human and a wounded dog on the freeway than just a wounded dog. It’s sad, but what could you do if you stopped?

our “road code” specifically notes that you should not slow down, stop or take evasive action for wildlife (ducks, cats, rabbits etc) on the road.

At most I would have called the traffic police to report the carcass, nothing more.

I hit a deer on a two-lane road with a 40 mph speed limit and I considered not stopping even then. In the end, I did, but mainly to assess the damage to my car (which was considerable). The deer had run off, though I have to believe it died of its injuries eventually.

Some states have a requirement to report it if you hit a domestic animal. Not sure about NC. I tend to agree with those who advise against stopping on the interstate, though it’s possible to report it at your convenience.

Most likely, I’d keep driving and, depending on where the dog landed, call 911 to report it. A large dog’s corpse (or near-corpse) is a road hazard; I’ve called before to report a dog I didn’t hit but was causing quite the dangerous distraction. That poor thing wasn’t dead yet, not entirely, but wasn’t mobile and people were swerving to avoid him. :frowning:

Which brings up another question–if you were driving and saw an animal obviously fatally wounded, but not yet dead, would you give it (as my hubby calls it) a “mercy squish”?

The ground squirrels near the stable where I board my horse like to play chicken with the passing large vehicles, bolting across the road incredibly close (sometimes impossibly close) to a car’s path. An SUV in front of me nailed one of the squirrels, and I saw it twitching a split second before I went over it. I deliberately straddled my tires so I didn’t hit him, but cruised over him. Hubby asked if I’d considered the “mercry squish;” I hadn’t even thought of it. All I really did was react as if it were a road hazard–avoid it, and move on.

Is it weird that my dog is currently staring at me as I read this thread?

If traffic is EXTREMELY light and you are entirely confident in your ability to safely pull over and check on the dog / check to see if it has a collar, then that would be courteous. But there’s absolutely no moral wrong here to just keep driving, and on most of the actual numbered interstates on which I’ve driven, that’s exactly what I’d do.

Ruffian, it depends on the size of the animal. Squirrels and smaller, yes, I would do a mercy squish (I like the term - cute but grisly). Cats and larger, I don’t know, I’d probably freak the hell out if it didn’t die right away. I’d probably take a cat or dog to the nearest vet so they could either euthanize it or call animal control. I don’t think I could leave it there to die slowly and alone. I guess for a deer I’d call the cops and see if they could send someone out to shoot it.

Try to focus on the road while you’re weeping like a 2-year old and keep driving. It’s also entirely allowable to dupe yourself, and other passengers in the car, that it was just a flesh wound and Old Shep will be just fine.

Oh, and just in case, check behind your bumper at first opportunity. :slight_smile:

As other posters have noted, it is inherently dangerous to stop and exit your vehicle on an Interstate and as such there is a not a pressing moral obligation. But, as someone who recently had their dog hit by a car on a highway I would hope that if traffic was light and your were able to pull over safely and check on the dog, that you would. By doing so, you are eliminating a potential road hazard for other drivers and could end up saving the life of the dog.

My dog survived the initial hit with just a fractured leg and collapsed lung, but if she had been left to run around her panicked state, she could have easily been finished off by another vehicle. If Good Samaritans had not stopped to calm her and call Animal Control she quite likely would not be limping around today. I hold no animus towards the driver who hit her and did not stop, just gratitude and relief that someone did.

This happened to me, and it’s hard to believe its been 6-7 years now.

You really get a new appreciation for the phrase “out of nowhere” once it happens to you.

I only got to see the head of the dog before I hit it. No where near enough reaction time as you would think.

I was on 141 in GA, which is not quite an interstate, but it is a highway complete with exits.

The hit occurred so close to my destination, that pulling over anywhere else didn’t make sense.

No damage to the car, and I never saw the dog again, [It was on my commute to work].

I did nothing. And I agree with the thread that there is nothing really that can be done, with out more risk. I figured that since I never saw the dog again, or it’s body, that it at least lived to make it to better ground.

I even asked to the dope back then. The reaction I got was less than agreeable to the answers here.

Unless you’re another dog.(Video with audio)

I would stop to check. I am aware that stopping on a highway is inherently dangerous, but I value a dog more than making a cell phone call, and I’m told that the law in some places requires you to pull over to the shoulder for that (no, I have not gone to the courthouse and read the statute myself).

That said, I have the almost unique misfortune to have hit an animal during my high-school driver’s ed final exam.

Was driving at about 40 mph down a boulevard when a sparrow zipped across my windshield. I did not take any action, as the slipstream always seems to carry them to safety – and indeed this little guy swept across my vision and flew to safety.

But the one chasing him/her did not.

Thump went the tiny ounce of feathers, impacting the windshield directly in front of the driving instructor’s face.

The body spun off into the ditch like a badminton birdie that’s been spiked.

I am an animal lover, and I was distressed to have struck the little bird. I felt cheated! They’re supposed to slipstream around the car!

The instructor, a very serious, large, athletic man who doubled as a basketball coach, intoned in his deep voice, “Don’t stop.”

The concept that anyone would think it possible to render aid to a one-ounce, hollow-boned bird that had been thumped by a speeding 2000-pound car was absurd.

Very absurd.

SO absurd, in fact, that moments after his grave, sonorous command, I had to stifle a giggle.

It’s very hard to stop laughing at something painful and absurd when someone is watching you.

And so it came to pass that I killed an animal during my driver’s test and laughed about it. The instructor made several careful notes in his tiny notebook.