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Dead on the Road: What to Do When You Hit an Animal

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.

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User Comments
  1. EdRoberts

    On March 21, 2008 at 7:34 pm

    In my experience, collies and other large dogs make for tasty roasts and steaks; while the smaller breeds are best broiled whole.

    Cats and the family gerbil are best ground into hamburger; goldfish make for a good mini-fish fry while tropical fish you pack in oil like a sardine.

    Parakeets do not hold much stuffing; but the gravy is tasty.

    Kittens can be served on a stick. Puppies, properly prepared, served on a cracker – will make your next party a hit.

    As a final tip, it is important to remove all tire tracks, before serving any road-kill, rather it be fido, the neighbor’s cat, or that cute little squirrel the kids used to feed in the back yard.

    bon appetit

  2. B Nelson

    On March 29, 2008 at 10:33 pm

    In truth its probably not that long off before people in “developed” nations will be eating cat and dog, like in China, simply because our food supply will not keep up with population grown and urban sprawl taking over farm land.

    You can try to shock or disturb me, it wont work.

  3. Stacey

    On July 4, 2008 at 10:53 am

    Thank you so much for making this page! I am always stopping to help animals out of the road. I saved many turtles while I lived in Florida and only on 1 instance did someone else stop to help also. Very sad. I am back in Maryland now, I hope someone is helping them down there. Here is a page I made addressing this concern too.

  4. Casey

    On September 12, 2008 at 8:40 pm

    Thanks for putting this up for people to read. If I dident tell my kids that I ran over the dog, I would have been In so much troble with them.

  5. Denny Lyon

    On September 16, 2008 at 9:04 am

    This article randomly showed up while I was on StumbleUpon – all these months later! Kudos to the Triond writer for getting more views!

    I suppose the mean person in the first comment probably thought he should taunt you for writing what is an obvious article. He makes light of what can be a dangerous situation if not well prepared for it.

    The reality is that when you hit an animal with your car or suddenly swerve away from it, losing control of the car, it is surprising and sometimes shocking so that the person involved often gets rattled, and, not knowing what to do will leave the scene.

    While traveling long distance in the middle of the night between Georgia and Louisiana we encountered a dead calf in the middle of the interstate. It was gruesomely treated in such a way as it was obviously used in a ritual Satanic sacrifice and then left on the road to kill others (several covens in that area of Georgia, some real destructive nuts).

    We swerved to avoid hitting it and spinned wildly into the median and then over to the wrong traffic side and back again, finally coming out of the spin (and yes, time does slow down inside the car) and were able to take the wheel again to come safely to a full stop to assess damage to the car (surprisingly, none!).

    this article is a good reminder to have a game plan in the off chance it happens to you – as was the above totally weird situation. accidents do happen when you are least ready for it, so do your best to do the honorable thing. good idea for an article!

  6. Noel

    On September 22, 2012 at 3:53 am

    I ran over a cat today crushed my souls I love animals and this just ruined my life

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