what to do if you hit an animal on the roadWhat should you do if you hit an animal with your vehicle? If the animal isn’t killed, it is bound to be injured, and while a few may apparently recover quite quickly, most are in pain and distress. What should you do?

If the accident has created a traffic hazard, it is very important that you immediately take steps to prevent any further accidents. Put your car’s hazard lights on, stop traffic if necessary to get help. Contact the Police (*555 from your mobile), your district council’s Animal Services, the NZ Transport Agency (0800 444449 if the road is a state highway) and /or the local SPCA – they all have a 24-hours answering service.

The next step obviously depends how bad the animal’s injuries are. If it can be moved safely, gently shepherd it or drag it gently well off the road. If it is conscious and in pain it will try to defend itself so take great care not to get hurt.

If it’s a dog or a domestic cat, try to locate the owner in nearby houses. If that’s not possible and the animal needs veterinary treatment, you should take it to a vet. If you can’t do that safely, the SPCA or district council Animal Services may help. The vet will give first aid and provide pain relief until the owner can be found. If the animal has been microchipped, finding the owner is made easier.

If it’s a farm animal, it is important to contact the owner, who is likely to be a neighbouring farmer. For significant incidents you should also immediately contact the Police, your district council’s Animal Services, the NZ Transport Agency (for state highways) and /or the local SPCA. With bigger animals it’s more likely that your car will be damaged and the animal owner may be liable to pay for repairs.

If you have hit a feral animal like a possum or a bird, getting help is not so straight forward. If it’s not a native animal the local SPCA may help and advise. If it’s a native animal, DOC will be able to help and they may cover costs. In many cases euthanasia would probably be the best option, and a vet will do that humanely for you.

The bottom line is – if you hit an animal, try to help it but put your own safety and the safety of others first, and treat the animal victim humanely.

Safe driving!

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