Photo Credit: ©Kathie Meier
Traveling home in the dark last night along a two-lane road near my home I drove into some fog. My response was to slow down which is what I think allowed me to somehow swerve and miss the two animals that abruptly appeared in my headlights. Two dogs- one a white Standard Poodle, the other a yellow Lab mix were sprinting neck and neck down the centerline of the pavement straight towards me. Although I viewed them for less than a second, the smiling expressions on their faces told me they were out on a joy run and having one helluva good time. I still cannot fathom how I avoided hitting them.
It took me no more than a minute to circle back to the scene of my “near miss” where I encountered flashing blue lights and a police officer directing me to drive past. I stopped, rolled down my window, and the officer told me that two dogs had just been killed…….
As it turns out, it was the police officer’s car that hit both dogs, flipping them to opposite sides of the pavement. After explaining that I’m a veterinarian, I requested the opportunity to confirm that both dogs were in fact deceased. Sadly, this was the case. The Poodle bore no visible marks on her body. The Lab mix was another story.
Fortunately, two Good Samaritans were at the scene. I say fortunate, because once the police officer located the piece of his patrol car that had broken off during the accident he took off indicating that he was late for work in another county. He left no contact information. More importantly he left the three of us in a precarious situation, trying to do the right thing on a dark, foggy road with cars screaming by.
We examined the dog’s collars in the headlights of my car. The tag numbers were too worn to be legible. One of the Good Samaritans was savvy enough to search the road surface where he found a rabies tag that tracked to a local 24-hour veterinary hospital. I was shocked when my call to this hospital traced the tag number to one of their very own employees who happened to be at home just a half mile from the scene of the accident.
With a single phone call I forever changed the life of a young woman who dearly loved her two dogs. In between sobs, she told me that they must have escaped from their yard. She was just getting her young daughter out of the bathtub and asked that I bring the dogs to her workplace where their remains could be cared for. When I met her there we hugged and I attempted to console her with the only good thing I could think of. I told her that, in my heart of hearts I believed that her two dogs were having one heck of a good time and that they did not experience even a single moment of fear or pain.
I am left feeling deep sadness, yet relief that I was not the one who hit these two dogs. I also feel somewhat ripped off- how remarkably unfair that a veterinarian who happens so quickly upon the scene of an accident involving animals has no opportunity to mend or to heal. Equally remarkable for me is the not so gentle reminder about our own vulnerability and how our lives can be irrevocably changed by one moment in time.
Thanks for this opportunity to vent. Please double-check your fencing and gates to make sure that your yard is safe and secure.
Nancy Kay, DVM
Diplomate, American College of Veterinary Internal Medicine
Author of Speaking for Spot: Be the Advocate Your Dog Needs to Live a Happy, Healthy, Longer Life
Author of Your Dog’s Best Health: A Dozen Reasonable Things to Expect From Your Vet
Recipient, Leo K. Bustad Companion Animal Veterinarian of the Year Award
Recipient, American Animal Hospital Association Animal Welfare and Humane Ethics Award
Recipient, Dog Writers Association of America Award for Best Blog
Recipient, Eukanuba Canine Health Award
Recipient, AKC Club Publication Excellence Award
Become a Fan of Speaking for Spot on Facebook
Please visit http://www.speakingforspot.com to read excerpts from Speaking for Spot and Your Dog’s Best Health. There you will also find “Advocacy Aids”- helpful health forms you can download and use for your own dog, and a collection of published articles on advocating for your pet’s health. Speaking for Spot and Your Dog’s Best Health are available at www.speakingforspot.com, Amazon.com, local bookstores, and your favorite online book seller.