You’ve passed by this gruesome scene a hundred times: a lifeless body of an animal lying on the side of the road after being hit by a car. You shake your head sadly as you drive by, thinking that the animal was surely killed in the collision.
But how do you know for sure that the raccoon, deer, cat, or dog on the side of the road isn’t just lying there—still alive and suffering—unable to move because of his or her injuries?
This fox was spotted lying on the side of a major highway in Chesapeake, Virginia. The animal wasn’t moving and didn’t show any signs of life as cars whizzed by. But because she looked intact, a concerned driver pulled over to check on her. Upon closer investigation, the driver discovered that the fox was still breathing!
On her way to work, a peta2 staffer saw a car collide with this bird. The driver pulled over and kicked the bird’s body over to the side of the road and drove away. The staffer decided to check on the animal, and she discovered that the bird was still alive and in pain from her injuries. She used a towel to pick up the bird and rushed her to a nearby veterinarian’s office, where she was euthanized to relieve her suffering. Check out our Guide To Helping Baby Birds for more ways to help birds.
Turtles have slow metabolisms, and when injured, they can suffer for days—or even weeks—before dying. This turtle was still alive when PETA fieldworkers found him. They were able to end his suffering. Check out our Guide to Helping Turtles in the Road for more tips on saving turtles.
If you ever see an animal lying on the side of the road, don’t assume that he or she is dead! Here’s what you should do:
Remain calm. Be sure to note your exact location, including the closest mile marker if you’re on a highway.
If it’s safe to do so, immediately and carefully pull over and put your hazard lights on. Be extremely cautious and aware of the traffic around you.
Determine if the animal is dead or alive.
Is the animal stiff? This would mean that he or she has been dead for some time.
Is the animal breathing? With furry animals, the wind can fool you, so look carefully. Observe the animal’s chest and abdominal area for movement. If an animal is still warm to the touch but you can’t see him or her breathing or any other movement, gently pinch a back toe to see if the animal pulls away. If safe to do so, you can also gently position your finger against the corner of the animal’s eye to see if he or she blinks.
Do not attempt to move injured animals without assistance from a trained individual. Some animals could be rabid, putting you in danger—and many animals, including dogs and cats, are more likely to bite if they’re in pain or frightened.
If you think an animal might still be alive or if you see an animal run away after being hit, call your local animal-control agency or police dispatch. If you can’t reach a live person, call 911. Calmly state your emergency:
“I’ve just found an injured animal who has been hit (state your location) and is still alive. This animal is suffering badly and needs help. Can you please send an animal-control officer right away? I’m pulled over in a (describe the make and model of the car you’re in) and will stay with the animal until help arrives.”
Most importantly, do not leave the animal. What if the officer can’t find him or her? Or what if the officer never shows up, and the animal is left to suffer? Stay with the animal until a professional arrives.
If the police or animal control are unresponsive or unable to help, contact us right away.
Foxes, raccoons, deer, and other wild animals deserve to be free from suffering, just as the animals we share our homes with do. If you couldn’t imagine your injured dog or cat lying helpless on the side of the road, please show compassion to other animals by stopping to check on them.