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How to Deal With Being in a Car Accident with Your Dog
By: Devin Morrissey
When an emergency occurs and you’re not in a financially stable situation, it can feel overwhelming. You might feel as though you don’t know where to turn or how you can get help. Those feelings can intensify if it’s your dog that ends up needing help.
Unfortunately, if you don’t have a consistent place to stay and money to pay for vet bills, getting your pet treated after an accident might seem impossible.
Thankfully, there are resources available that may be able to help you and your furry friend. This year has been trying for homeless individuals and their pets already, thanks to the COVID-19 pandemic. Now that winter is here, there are even more challenges to keep your pet safe, warm, and healthy. Unfortunately, winter can also increase your risk of being involved in a car accident thanks to hazardous road conditions.
No one wants to think about being involved in a car accident with their dog. But, if it does occur, it’s important to know what to do to get help as quickly as possible.
Do What You Can to Prevent Accidents
Most car accidents live up to their name; they’re unpredictable and unpreventable. Sometimes, no matter how well you’re driving or how well you take care of your vehicle, accidents happen. However, there are things you can do to lower your risks of getting into an accident.
One of the easiest ways to make sure your vehicle is safe is to go in for regular maintenance. If you notice any glaring problems with your car, it’s important to have it checked right away. If you can’t afford to take your vehicle to a mechanic, there are also several DIY repairs you can take care of to keep it in top shape, including:
- Changing the brake pads
- Changing your oil
- Replacing the battery
- Replacing windshield wipers
- Tire maintenance
- Switching out air filters
- Engine coolant replacement
Performing these regular maintenance projects will reduce the risk of your car breaking down or not performing like it should. That will keep you and your dog safe while you’re driving. If you also use your vehicle as shelter, keeping it in good shape will allow you to drive around to the best possible locations, so you can rest and sleep in safer areas.
It’s also important to make sure you’re in the right shape to drive. If you have any physical limits that could be dangerous if you’re behind the wheel, take them into consideration. For example, color blindness can make it difficult to properly see street signs or important information while you’re driving. Getting your eyes checked can help to determine if you need any kind of treatment or if you should be aware of any ailments before you get in your car.
Take Care of Yourself First
Sometimes, you may not be the one to cause an accident. Again, you could be a perfect driver and things can still happen. Someone else might hit your car, or perhaps even you and your dog if you’re walking near a vehicle. While your instinct might be to take care of your four-legged friend first, it’s imperative to make sure you’re okay.
Whether you were directly hit by a car or you were in an accident in your own vehicle, there are a few vital steps to take immediately:
- Make sure you are physically okay. It’s still a good idea to call an ambulance to the scene in order to get yourself and others involved in the accident checked out.
- Get the insurance information from any other drivers involved.
- Contact the police to investigate the scene and possibly write a report.
- If possible, take as many pictures as you can.
In some cases, you may need to consider hiring an attorney. While they can be expensive, if you feel you weren’t at fault for the accident or you’ve been injured and can’t afford your hospital bills, a lawyer can help you make a pain and suffering claim. Without an attorney, you might have a hard time presenting the right evidence or convincing a judge on your own.
Utilize Your Resources
Once you’ve taken the proper steps to make sure you’re okay after an accident, focus on your dog. Getting them immediate medical attention is also crucial if they’ve been injured. Stay as calm as possible if your dog has been hurt. Your own stress can make things worse for them. So, try to reassure them, use a calming voice, and do what you can to keep them safe, warm, and dry.
If your dog has been injured in an accident, calling or visiting the nearest vet should be your next move. They will want to know what happened and the extent of your dog’s injuries. They should be able to give you some ideas as to how to keep your dog safe and stabilized before bringing them in.
Never ignore the medical needs of your dog because you’re worried about how much it might cost. Getting them stable and healthy should be your top priority. Once a veterinarian has looked them over, you can start to consider some national resources that might be able to assist you with your finances, including:
- The Humane Society
- Friends & Vets Helping Pets
- Oscar’s Cause
- Brown Dog Foundation
Feeding Pets of the Homeless can also help if you don’t have a place to live with your dog. Even local organizations might be able to assist with your vet bills, so don’t be afraid to talk with the veterinarian about your options. It’s their job to provide your dog with the best care possible, no matter what. They might have more insight as to who can help you cover the costs.
Getting into a car accident is scary for anyone. But, when you’re not in a good financial situation and you have to worry about your dog’s safety as well as your own, it becomes an even more overwhelming event. Keep these suggestions in mind to keep yourself and your canine companion as safe as possible when you’re on the road. If you are homeless and your dog needs help with medical attention call Feeding Pets of the Homeless at 775-841-7463.