What can I do for a random injured dog?
February 25, 2015 12:43 PM   Subscribe

I saw a dog get hit and injured on the highway. What should/could I have done? Unpleasantness inside (no gore or death).

The story: I'm driving down the highway, and a large-ish bird dog of some kind was barreling down the side of a large embankment on one side. Most or all of the drivers it was about to affect seemed to notice and started slowing down. The dog ran onto the highway, was missed by one car, got confused and turned back, where she sort of bounced off of the bumper of the car in front of me, and possibly got a front leg run over. I could see that she was conscious and yelping. The car that hit her kept going. My hazard lights were already on and I pulled onto the shoulder a couple dozen yards or so beyond the dog and sat there for a few moments trying to think what to do. In this time, I saw that a couple of different cars had already stopped and people were getting out, so as I still didn't have any ideas and it looked like people were helping, I moved on.

As near as I can tell I personally handled the situation in an acceptable manner, but what if I'd been the only one around or no one stopped?

Let me just say that I like dogs a lot, and I'm very good with them. I understand that dealing with an injured dog is a dangerous situation, but my comfort level is such that I think it's very unlikely that I would misread a dog and get bitten, and I'm willing to accept a certain amount of personal risk if it means saving a dog's life.

An emergency vet visit is far more expensive than I can swing even at the best of times, as I found out not too long ago when one of my own dogs fell from a balcony (Betty is fine now). Are there animal shelter hospitals or something like that? Does animal control respond at all/quickly enough to a situation like this? What does someone without hundreds of dollars to spare and no room for more dogs do in such a situation?

And here's the rest of my dog photo tax. In order: Betty, Horus, Luna, and Jupiter.
posted by cmoj to Pets & Animals (7 answers total) 2 users marked this as a favorite
Animal control varies a lot by state, and by county. In my area, people calling in stray dog reports are told no one can come out for up to 48 hours. Not sure of the response if the animal is injured. Our animal control is moving away from working with rescues and to more of a kill, kill, kill model, so any injured animal taken there doesn't have much time before they'll euthanize.

You could call your local animal control and ask them how they would deal with a call about an injured animal.

You could also call some emergency vets to see what their policies are. When my husband and I found a dog we thought was injured by the road and took her to an emergency vet, they told us that they could treat her and if we paid the bill, we could take her home. If we couldn't pay the bill, she would be sent to animal control and likely not last very long.

We could afford it, so we took her home, and that is the story of how we got our very first dog. If your impulse is to help but you can't afford emergency care, I think you should make some calls to help you decide how to deal with situations like this in the future.
posted by Squeak Attack at 1:06 PM on February 25, 2015

I work at an emergency vet hospital, and we deal with stuff like this all the time. Your best bet is to call Animal Control first, to see what kind of help they are prepared to offer. This varies widely by town and by time of day, but if there are dedicated Animal Control officers available in your area, they will know all the options for emergency care and how to access them in a hurry. Your next best option would be to bring the animal to the largest emergency hospital in your area, preferably one attached to a school of veterinary medicine. First, they will be able to scan for microchips or otherwise identify the animal, and contact the owner, if possible. Second, there is a good chance they have access to some kind of charitable fund for treating or assisting stray animals. For animals with no identifiable owner and a bad prognosis, that treatment may be limited to humane euthanasia, but that's better than suffering on the side of the road. In other cases, they may be able to treat the animal and release it to a shelter or rescue group for re-homing. Note that if you choose to pursue this option the facility will likely make you sign away any ownership of the animal, and will refuse to give you updates on the animal's condition or ultimate disposition. This is due to the fact that unscrupulous people will sometimes bring their own pets in claiming that they are a stray, and then will seek to "adopt" the animal once it's medical care has been paid for.

Please do be very careful when dealing with injured animals. They are very likely to bite or otherwise lash out, and you can be seriously hurt.
posted by Rock Steady at 1:11 PM on February 25, 2015 [3 favorites]

Consider that the dog might not be abandoned. Whistle or yell for the dog's human, who may be in the area actively looking for the dog. If the human doesn't show up quickly, I would take the dog to the shelter, but keep on urgently and actively looking for the dog's human during the waiting period. There are lots of "pet finder" accounts on social media--find the best one for your local area now, so that you know where to post the next time you find an animal in need. More advice here.
posted by Bentobox Humperdinck at 1:11 PM on February 25, 2015

This just happened to a friend of mine this morning. She was on her way to work, saw a dog hit right in front of her, driver did not stop. She was close to home and to her vet, so she and another Good Samaritan loaded the dog into her car and took it to her own vet. Unfortunately, the dog did not survive. Since she was a long-standing customer, her (and my) vet office did not charge her for their services. So, I would start by contacting your own vet, who probably makes a small fortune every year on that incredibly cute Gang of Four at your house. Ask them about their policy.
posted by raisingsand at 1:15 PM on February 25, 2015

Animal control is the first place to try calling, yes (if that doesn't work, I'd try the police non-emergency line or a local vet--24 hr emergency vet if it's after hours). Stray domestic animals are a big part of what municipal animal control does, including dealing with injured animals. Animal control can take it to the animal shelter where the animal will receive supportive care and decisions will be made as to how to proceed based on available resources, severity, etc. Most shelters contract out with local vets to provide care to animals with special medical needs. How quickly animal control is able to respond probably varies--there may be situations where if you can safely secure the animal in your own vehicle that it will be faster for you to take it into the shelter yourself.
posted by drlith at 1:16 PM on February 25, 2015

Animal control is worthless, in my (repeated) experience. For one thing, at least in places I've lived, they are only open normal business hours. A couple of times, I've tried calling at night when I saw a dangerous dog on the loose or when I saw an animal get injured, and no one even picks up the phone. In one case I was referred back and forth from the police to the animal control--neither wanted to deal with it. In another case, reporting a dangerous dog lead to weeks of unpleasantness during which I was asked to physically come testify at a trial, and then *threatened* with fines when I said I couldn't due to work. So, ZERO help ever in my experience and I will never bother calling animal control again.
posted by mysterious_stranger at 3:00 PM on February 25, 2015 [1 favorite]

Response by poster: OK sounds like I just need to cal around. I'll start with animal control and see if they're of any use and go from there.

Thank you all!
posted by cmoj at 10:54 AM on February 26, 2015

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