What to Do when a Dog is Hit by a Car and Killed on the Road
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What to Do when a Dog is Hit by a Car and Killed on the Road

What to do if you witness a car run over a dog. What to do if you see a dog get hit by a car. What to do if you hit a dog and kill it. What to do if somebody kills your dog by hitting it with their car. My dog got run over does the driver have to pay me?

If you have witnessed a dog get run over, and killed, on the road, or if you were a driver who hit and killed a dog, or even if you are the owner of a dog who was hit and killed, you may be wondering what to do, and who is financially liable for what.

Witnessing a Dog get Hit

If you witness a dog get run over it can be very traumatic but there are some things you can do. If the car did not stop (sometimes the driver does not know they hit a dog, or sometimes it is unsafe to stop) you should make note of the car and license plate if you can. If you are in a position where you can move the dead dog off the road you should do so, but do not risk your own life to do this (only on a quiet road). Call the police and let them know, they will want to get the dog's body off the road because it can be a traffic hazard, or call the local animal shelter and they will tell you who to call. If the incident happened in a rural neighborhood you may ask at houses to see who owns the dog. Otherwise there is not much you can do.

If you were the Driver that Hit and Killed a Dog

First of all do not panic and drive away. In most cases you are not legally responsible for hitting and killing a dog that was on the road (unless it was obviously intentional). In fact in many areas you are not even legally required to swerve out of the way of a dog because doing so could risk causing an accident.

You should pull off to the side of the road if it is safe to do so. If it is safe to remove the dog's body from the road you should do this as well. If not call your local police and report hitting the dog, and let them know where the body is so they can remove it from the road, or call your local animal shelter and they will let you know who to call.

If your car was damaged you legally have a case against the owner of the dog who allowed it to run loose. I would caution you against pushing this issue, or at least use some compassion if you do; after all the owner of the dog is going to be devastated about the loss of their pet, which may have gotten loose by accident.

If you are the Owner of a Dog that was Killed on the Road

If your dog was run over you undoubtedly feel terrible. The first step is to get the dog safely off the road. If the driver is present do not get into a confrontation with them.  In most areas the driver can sue you if there are any damages to their car; in other words unless you can prove they intentionally hit your dog, they are usually not legally responsible for offering you any compenstation for killing the dog as the result of a car accident. If they had the decency to stop and let you know about hitting your dog you should thank them – do not make them feel bad, it was not their fault.

You can talk to a veterinarian about options for what to do with your dog's body, some veterinarians offer cremation, and you can have the ashes back, or they will dispose of the body themselves. In some areas you may be allowed to bury your dog in your yard but in most cities this is not allowed, however there may be a pet cemetery.


These kinds of accidents happen so fast and without warning, it is normal for a person to panic and not know what to do.  Remember while it might seem like the driver is to blame, most cities have laws that forbid dogs being loose on the road, meaning that the dog's owner must share the burden of responsibiltiy, as painful as that is (in some areas the same laws apply to cats killed on the road as well).

Note:  Never approach an unfamiliar dog injured on the road, call the local animal shelter or police and have them deal with the dog, a scared or injured dog could bite

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Comments (5)

Yes--exactly! Thanks for sharing your thoughts on this.

Great piece to share with everyone. Voted up!

Ranked #46 in Dogs

Good information. I once had a cat run into my car. I wasn't going very fast. The cat ran off and I'm sure that it was injured. I couldn't go after it because I had my young son in the car with me. I never found out what happened to the cat. Sometimes you just can't do anything when something like that happens.

Valuable advice and the warning note as well.

Nice article, voted!