It is easy to do the wrong thing when you have hit an animal, that is to say leaving it and pretending you didn’t notice. But in the end, doing the right thing will help ease somebody’s grief and give you peace of mind.
Not a pleasant thing to think about, but chances are it will happen, and it is best to know what to do BEFORE it does happen. I have written this with a general approach in mind, laws are different everywhere, so before it happens to you, there may be some laws you want to inquire about in your area.
Your Own Pet
Emotionally this may be the worst scenario to deal with. Physically, what you have to do is remove the animal’s body from the road. In most places it is illegal to dispose of a dead pet in the garbage. Some cities have a special place in the garbage dump for dead animals, so if that is how you want to dispose of your pet, you need to call and ask them how to do this. Many cities now have places that will cremate your pet, a veterinarian would know if this is available in your area and give you the information on this. Some cities also have pet cemeteries, again a vet will know where these are.
A lot of people, particularly in the country, bury their pets. You really should consider the laws in your area regarding this. Find out BEFORE you need to, if it is legal to bury animals on your property.
Emotionally you have a very hard thing to deal with, telling your family. Be honest with your children, lying to them that the pet “ran away” or was “given to a farm” is going to open up a can of worms. Not only is it unfair to them, as they are not given the opportunity to say “good bye” but also you have cheated them out of a life lesson. Most children first experience death, because of a pet dying – this is much less harsh than they having their first experience being a parent, or sibling. If you lie to your kids, and they find out, they may not trust you again.
Finally, do not be in a hurry to replace the pet. First fix the problem of how it got out onto the road. A better fence for your dog, or a cat section for your cat.
Your Neighbor’s Pet
Remove the pet from the road, and attempt to contact the owner. This is a hard thing to do depending on how well you know the neighbor. Ultimately the pet should not have been on the road, it should have been indoors or in their yard, but you cannot tell them this. You can only hope they realize it for themselves and are not going to yell at you.