Last week, one of our lovely cats, Dave, was killed on our drive, probably by a courier van.  He was the very special companion of my husband Colin, and Colin found him under the trees beside the driveway.  Dave was yowling in pain, he had a distorted face and blood from one ear, and he was paralysed.  We took him to the vet clinic right away but 3 days later it was clear that his injuries were too extensive to treat, and he was euthanased, leaving us both bereft.   

Lots of you, maybe even most, will have had similar experiences.  Some of you may even have had the sickening experience of being the driver rather than the owner in these incidents. 

It’s very common.  And not just with cats of course, but dogs, chickens, piglets …. in fact, any domestic animal could be the victim. 

Don’t think, as we did, that your animals are safe because you live in the country and at the end of a road.  On small farms like ours, the risks are probably greater than in town, because;

  • there are lots of animals in the yard
  • there is a long driveway where drivers can get up to speed
  • vehicles often drive right up to the house

Which animals are most at risk?

  • Old cats that can’t move out from under the car quickly
  • Cats that enjoy the heat from the engine by lying on the engine or over a tyre
  • Kittens that are hard to spot and find their way into small spaces under the bonnet
  • Cats that dart from one side of the drive to the other
  • Dogs, especially playful pups and old slow dogs
  • Dogs that chase cars and try to bite the wheel
  • Poultry especially chicks and ducklings
  • Lambs and piglets that get through the fence onto the road

What can you do?

Speed and carelessness contribute to many animal road accidents, but sometimes animals come out of nowhere right under the wheels and there’s nothing the driver can do. 

Nevertheless, there are steps you can take to reduce the risk of accidents at your place.

  • You can put up signs in several places and facing both ways saying “Slow” (or even more emphatic “Dead slow” or “Slow – Kids - Pets”
  • Put a gate at the end of the drive or at the entrance to your yard to make drivers stop to open it
  • Keep kittens and puppies well away from the yards and farm roads
  • If your dog habitually chases tyres, keep him tied up or penned when he’s not with you; or talk to a vet or behaviour expert, because there may be a case for hiring an electric collar to break the habit.
  • Put a sign on your dashboard to remind you as you drive that you too must look out for small animals

Dogs on trucks

Farm dogs are often transported on the deck of trucks or on the platform of four-wheelers.  They can be horribly injured if they fall off or get under the wheels. 

Accidents happen when;

  • the lead is long enough to allow the hind legs to slip over the edge
  • the deck becomes slippery in rain.
  • the dog on the truck is provoked by other dogs.
  • the dog on the truck becomes cold and tired on a long journey

To help prevent accidents;

  • the lead should be long enough to allow the dog to stand and lie down and move about, but it mustn’t be long enough to allow the front or hind legs to reach the side of the deck.  
  • drive slowly and carefully, especially on bumpy tracks
  • don’t make long journeys with a dog on the open unsheltered deck
  • attach the lead or chain to a collar with a swivel and attach the other end firmly to the deck against the cab

It’s all common sense really, and a little fore-thought might help prevent a lot of very painful and distressing accidents.