Do You Know What To Do If You Hit A Dog With Your Car?

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Depending on the time of day, where the sun is in the sky, or the type of obstacles in your way (like trees, signs, other cars, etc.), it can sometimes be difficult to see things in the road when you’re driving.

This is especially true when things are moving quickly — like a dog running into the street and right in front of your car!

There are actually laws in place stating what you must do if you hit someone’s pet with your car. I was surprised to find that there is little information regarding these laws online, but there is certainly a lot of discussion about it — and most people have the wrong information.

To help set the record straight, here is what you must do if you hit someone’s pet…

#1 – You have to stop.

You cannot just hit someone’s pet and drive off. If you do, you could be cited for cruelty to animals and even take to court for it.

The laws of most states require that if you hit a domestic animal, you must stop and notify the appropriate state or local authority. If you don’t do so, you could find yourself in legal hot water. In general, if you stop and make a reasonable effort to help the animal, the legal responsibility for the accident will not fall on you, but on the owner for allowing the dog to run loose. Source

If you’re on a highway or a busy road where suddenly stopping could be dangerous, then keep moving and call 911 to report the incident to authorities. (See Reese’s comment below.)

#2 – Move the dog out of the road so no one else gets in an accident trying to avoid hitting it a second time.

Be careful when you do this because an animal that is injured and in shock may bite. The best way to handle an animal in shock is to get a blanket, then wrap the animal up in the blanket, and pick it up that way.

#3 – Call 911 and they will put you through to animal control who can help you further.

It is essential to get the dog help ASAP! As soon as you’ve moved the animal out of the road, call 911.

Current law requires a driver whose car hits a dog, cat, horse or cattle, to stop, attempt to locate the animal’s owner or law enforcement in the area, and take other reasonable steps to ensure that the animal receives necessary attention. Source

Just remember, even if the dog looks and acts okay, it may not be. Dogs can suffer a multitude of injuries from being hit by a car — including head injuries and broken bones, to name a few. It would be better if you bring them to the nearest pet hospital right away to avoid serious complications.

It’s very important to notify the appropriate authorities and to get the animal to a vet right away. Animal control can advise you on whether you need to go immediately to the vet, or wait for one of their officers to come and help.

Knowing what the laws are can make a big difference between finding yourself in court, or being cited with animal cruelty — which is not something any smart person wants to have happen.

FYI… In 1983, two men were severely injured when the driver of a truck in which they were riding swerved to avoid hitting a dog that had run into the road. They sued the dog’s owner, and a judge awarded them $2.6 million. Source

Other Online Discussions About This Topic

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My favorite things to write about are topics that have to do with pregnancy, weddings, saving money, living green, and life with dogs. When I'm not writing, I love to spend time with my husband, read, create 3D artwork and Native American beadwork.

10 thoughts on “Do You Know What To Do If You Hit A Dog With Your Car?

  1. There is an exception. If you hit a dog that has run onto a busy freeway. You must NOT stop and exit your vehicle. You MUST call 911 and report the incident to the authorities and let the highway patrol handle the situation.

    1. Just a note: this happened to us recently. We were on the outer edge of a city, in the country. The nearest house was at least a 1/4 of a mile away and not accessible from the freeway. This particular freeway has large Oleander bushes planted down the middle separating opposing traffic. We were driving 70 mph, a lot of other traffic was driving faster. Out of the bushes runs a medium sized dog right in front of us. No place to swerve, not safe to slam on brakes, only option was to hit the poor little guy. This was heartbreaking for us. I noted the location and called 911 who put me in touch with the highway patrol. I was so angered at the owners of this dog for not securing him safely. But again, NEVER, stop and exit your vehicle on a busy freeway.

        1. Never heard a word. When we passed the location again a few days later there was nothing there. I hate to even think about what happened.

  2. My dog broke out of his chain yesterday and a guy hit him and wasn’t going to stop until my neighbor screamed at him to find the owner and instead he picked my dog up and threw him in the back of his truck and took off this guy is always flying up and down our street and he almost hit a girl checking her mail the other day I live in the state of ky is there anything I can do about this?

  3. I don’t believe there is a law in any City that states you have to move the animal out of the road way. It might be the nice thing to do but there isn’t a law that says you have to

  4. My dad accidentally hit a dog in the neighborhood and the dog’s owner dashed into our home causing commotion and was screaming at my dad for not compensating, my dad defended his side and said that taking care of the dog was the owner’s responsibility and that he shouldn’t be liable, he also said that he was driving really slow (even without proof I know that’s a fact, talk about long drives turning into really loooooooooong drives without the sarcasm). The owner even said that she was just letting her dog poop that’s why it was outside, but isn’t that wrong? They don’t own the streets therefore her dog isn’t allowed to poop there. My dad said that they should just talk at the barangay (a place where you settle your complaints in your village) but she even threatened my dad that she’ll post about this on facebook and that he should wait for the dog’s grave in front of our house when it dies. What do you guys think we should do?

    1. This.
      If anything, the owner is liable for any vehicle damage due to the accident.

      I own dogs. I pick up their crap. That neighbor of yours needs to get fined for littering and violation of your area’s leash laws for leaving her dog unsupervised.

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