This is a traumatic occurrence both emotionally and physically. Unfortunately, it is also a common occurrence. So common that we refer to it by its acronym, HBC, rather than saying those three dreaded words. Dogs and Cats do not have the mental capacity to equate getting in the road with ‘I might get hurt or killed.’ They will often chase prey into the road or simply run head long into traffic without so much as a care in the world. We see devastating effects from these encounters of dog meets truck. Common injuries include fractured limbs/pelvis, spinal trauma, lung contusions (essentially bruised or bleeding), head trauma, ruptured bladder, diaphragmatic hernia, internal bleeding, skin lacerations and abrasions (road rash), and of course death.
While some of our patients get lucky with only minimal or at least repairable injuries, many are not so lucky. It is heartbreaking to have to euthanize or have them die in your arms, when only moments before they were a happy, healthy pet.
Many owners want to lay blame on the driver of the vehicle; however, in almost every case of HBC, the driver of the vehicle could have done nothing to prevent the accident. It is the responsibility of the owner to keep their pet out of the road. I also urge owners to make sure their pet is identified with a name and contact number, so that if a pet is injured and brought in to a hospital, you can be contacted. We have had several incidents where the owner was not even aware that their pet had escaped their confines and was hit then brought in to the clinic by a good Samaritan. Microchipping is also a way to help us locate you if something like this has happened. It is especially helpful if your pet keeps ditching their collar and tags on a regular basis.
I know it sounds like I am on my soap box right now but let me back up and say this. You could do everything right. You could have the best fence, the best collar, microchipped, spayed or neutered, feed the best feed, always keep an eye on them and still something like this can happen. You could leave to go to work and your dog, for whatever reason decides he is breaking out for the first time, climbs out of the fence, chases the squirrel into a busy highway and blam! It happened so fast and you had no idea. This does not make you a bad owner or bad person. I am not judging you or placing blame. There are things beyond your control. My responsibility is to your pet and to you. All I ask is that you consider how fast something like this can happen and to please make every attempt to keep your pets contained and away from harm so that neither they nor you know the heartache of an HBC.