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First Responders: Canine Occupants in Vehicular Collisions.

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I think that would depend on where the accident happened, as different states or cities will have different protocol about that. But in most places the animal protection and control officers would take the dog(s) to the shelter with which they have an agreement, and they will be held there until arrangements are made for someone to take them, either the owner(s) or someone designated by the owner. If that doesn't happen within a certain amount of time (which will vary with place), they will be put up for adoption.

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I agree with D'Elle. I think local protocols will determine how responders handle canines in an accident.

Having said that, here are a few tips to (hopefully) keep your canine companions as safe as possible.

Keep them in a crate in the car - preferably not in a cheap wire crate which could break and stab the dog. And strap the crate securely in the car.

A crash-tested harness could work too.

Snap a leash to the crate. If the crate is thrown from the car, the leash is available for a rescuer to use.

Attach an envelope to the crate with all pertinent information: Your name, dog's name, ICE numbers, vet name and number - and other information as you see fit.

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gvc-border.  Perhaps the practices you describe are the norm for dog owners in your community as they go about their day running errands and visiting dog parks.  In my community, not so much.

Although it has been some time since I've spotted the once-familiar sight of a pick-up rolling along with one or more dogs in the box, paws up on the side ledges, mouth open, tongue flailing out one side and ears pinned back by the wind; it is a routine matter to see the heads, necks and to some degree, torsos of dogs hanging out side windows of SUVs, Suburbans and Expeditions in these parts.

Dogs that travel with me NEVER get an opportunity to ride with their heads out a window, but they DO travel unrestrained.

Until the arrival of the latest pup, these canine passengers have been content to remain within the rear cargo area of my vehicle - separated from the rest of the cabin by the "barrier" of a partial or full-width seat back.  The latest pup migrates between the cargo and rear seat areas, often positioning so as to have a minimally obstructed view of oncoming scenery through the front seats.  Yes - exactly!  Right where a collision, even sudden hard braking will result in this dog becoming a projectile on a rapid trip forward to and possibly beyond the front windshield.

As I say, I see the same practices and worse all around me.

Likewise, I regularly watch and read news reports about vehicular crashes, and sometimes see accident scenes in person.  Not once have I seen or heard about animal occupants.  Not once has an acquaintance described their experience with a pet in an accident or related anecdotal tales of someone else's experience.  I don't ever recall PSAs addressing animal safety in vehicles, blog entries on shelter sites, nor threads on the subject in forums such as this one.

Yet, the welfare of pets routinely figures in coverage I follow about house fires and various kinds of natural disasters.

I am certain that restrained or otherwise, pets are victims in automobile accidents, too.

While all perspectives are welcome, I am particularly interested in the perspective of accident First Responders.  I have some sense of well established protocols and the layers of complex infrastructure for dealing with human crash victims.  I have no idea of what is in place for triaging a defensive Anatolian Shepherd guarding his injured owner, a panicked Silken Windhound running around in traffic or a BC that is bleeding out from a severed artery.

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I live in Northern CA and I've seen on tv/read in the paper a couple times about pets being involved in serious accidents. What I remember is that law/safety personnel call County Animal Control and they are responsible for dealing with pets involved in auto crashes. Those pets are taken to the County Animal Shelter. They are kept at the shelter, minor wounds attended to by shelter staff, until their humans are able to make decisions about their care. If the dog's injuries are severe, Animal Control tries to get in touch with the owner so that the owner makes the decision of treatment or euthanasia.

In your example of the Anatolian Shepherd guarding his owner, the first responders would immediately contact Animal Control, who would arrive as quickly as possible. AC officers would restrain the Anatolian and take it off to the Animal Shelter. I don't know if they would try to bandage an injured dog. 

You may have some similar system where you live. 



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  • 2 weeks later...
On 3/11/2023 at 10:15 PM, diane allen said:

I know this doesn't answer the original question.  But in case anyone thinks about their dog NOT in a crate....Dog was fine in this accident.  Amazing.

May be an image of car and outdoors

That’s my worst nightmare. I have had a couple of acquaintances involved in accidents (not their fault) who credited crates for preventing injury/death? to their dogs.

when you know better, you can do better.

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