What to do if you accidentally hit an animal with your car

Keep your furry loved ones from becoming an animal collision statistic

I’ve lost count of amount of times I have nearly hit a cat or dog driving around suburban streets.  Each time, I feel an overwhelming relief that I haven’t killed someone’s beloved pet, but I often wonder what I would do if I found myself in that situation.  At this high rate of near misses, I figure a collision with an animal is, sadly, almost inevitable.

A research paper by AAMI and Lori Smith Animal Hospital (January 2009), highlights some interesting facts about domestic animal car collisions.

In a sample of 2,503 drivers, half of the respondents had hit an animal with a car.  32 per cent had hit a dog while 23 percent had hit a cat.

Only a third of animals involved in car collision survived.  More dogs (70 percent) were seen for treatment as they were more likely to survive the impact due to their size.

The report also revealed that over 60 to 70 percent of the animals presented at the Animal Hospital were not de-sexed which made them more likely to roam the streets.  A lot of these animals were also lost or stray with no owners.

So, what do you do if you accidentally hit an animal on the road?

  • Firstly, and most importantly, consider your own safety. Pull over to the kerb, park the car in a safe spot and put your hazard lights on.
  • Take a deep breath and compose yourself before leaving the car. Stressing out in front of an injured animal could make its condition worse.
  • Approach the animal with caution.  If the animal is still alive and injured it will be frightened and may bite or scratch you.
  • If the animal is dead, move it to the side of the road when it is safe for you to do so.  Call the police to inform them of the situation. They can arrange removal of the animal.
  • Avoid picking up an injured animal.  Keep it warm with a jacket or blanket and try to keep it calm but don’t feed it.
  • Contact the local veterinary hospital or police as soon as possible and stay with the animal until help arrives if you feel safe to do so.  You may feel safer waiting in your car with the doors locked if it is dark and isolated.
  • If there has been damage to your car, contact the police within 24 hours to file an accident report and contact your insurance company as soon as possible.

Be alert and drive carefully around suburban streets at night.  Cats and dogs often dart out from behind parked cars leaving you little time to stop or avoid hitting them.

Also, remember to keep your own pets safely in your yard or indoors to avoid them becoming another sad animal collision statistic.

Important numbers to keep in your mobile or in the glovebox:

RSPCA :

NSW:      02 9770 7555

VIC:        03 9224 2222

QLD:       07 3426 9999

SA:          08 8231 6931

WA:        08 9209 9300

ACT:       02 6287 8100

NT:          08 8984 3795

TAS:        03 6332 8200

WIRES (for native animals) :

1300 0WIRES ( 1300 094 737)

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3 Comments

  1. Thanks for this post! I had this awful experience (no collar, no chip, maltese) and it was extremely distressing. IHe and I were both very lucky – he survived and I was able to take him home to get immediate treatment before taking him to the hospital. Through the tears (mine!) the little guy sat in the front seat of my car with his bloody snout (he bit his tongue – only real injury) quite happily assuring me was ok! It is an awful experience so good on you for helping people prepare themselves with what to do!

  2. [...] What to do if you accidentally hit an animal with your car December 20091 comment 5 [...]


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