What to do if you hit an animal whilst driving
Sometimes a car accident is not always classed as an incident with a person. If you’re driving on a country road it could easily involve an animal. These situations can be very upsetting… but according to Gov.uk, the law states that you must stop at the scene for the animals listed below and report it the Police whether they survive or not.
- Cattle (Cows)
- Donkeys & Mules
Once the Police are aware and the owners have been notified, you are then free to leave the scene. However, if the owner is untraceable you must still report what’s happened to your local Police station within 24hrs of the incident taking place. The Police should also be able to give a list of local veterinary clinics if the animal needs urgent care and is in a critical condition.
What about if you hit a cat?
As horrific as the idea is of hitting someone’s pet whether it be a cat, dog or rabbit, you are not required legally to stop at the scene if you hit a cat… but if you do, and it has a chance of survival, the best thing you can do is:
- Move the animal to safety (if it can be moved) and ideally take it to the nearest vet
- Notify the owner as soon as possible if the cat is microchipped
- If the cat cannot be identified at the vets, tell your local council and file a missing pet report
Other animals you aren’t required to stop for
Animals you do not need to report are:
- Other woodland creatures
The most humane thing to do would be to stop, but these are such common occurrences that really cannot be helped most of the time, especially if the animal is hit at high speeds on a motorway for example.
If you do stop, the RSPCA can provide some helpful advice and again, suggest some local vets if there is a chance it can be saved. You will not be responsible for any fees or costs, but it is highly advised to approach the injured animal with caution if you plan to take it to a veterinary clinic, as not only could you put yourself at risk from other traffic, the animal could be extremely distressed and try to harm you.
If you come across a dead animal in the road, it is the responsibility of your local council to remove it, so you do not need to take any action.
How to prevent hitting an animal
Unfortunately, hitting an animal is hard to avoid but there are some tips to hopefully prevent it.
- Stick to the speed limits at all times
- Pay attention to road signs, stating Deer or other creatures may be around
- Take extra care very early in the morning or late in the evening when animals may be foraging for food
For more helpful advice and links see below. This applies to England and Wales only, for information on what to do in these sorts of events in Scotland and Northern Ireland - contact your local council in Scotland and Northern Ireland.
Report an injured animal
Report an injured animal to the RSPCA in England or Wales or its equivalent in Scotland or Northern Ireland.
Telephone: 0300 1234 999
Scottish Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals (SSPCA)
Telephone: 03000 999 999
Ulster Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals (USPCA)
Telephone: 028 3025 1000
Call the Wildlife Incident Investigation Scheme if you think an animal has been poisoned by pesticides.
Wildlife Incident Investigation Scheme
Telephone: 0800 321 600
You can find out about call charges to each of these numbers.