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nosbig5
2011-Oct-18, 08:29 PM
Driving home from work last night on a busy 2-lane road through a small town, traffic was bumper to bumper at ~35mph. I saw the vehicle two cars ahead of me swerve to the left. Then the car in front of me swerved to the right, and I saw a sight that I can't quite shake out of my head.

The first car had hit a mostly white calico cat, and he was laying there in the middle of the road on his back kicking his rear legs back and forth. His spine was very obviously snapped and he couldn't flip over or move away. I probably had about one, maybe two seconds before I would reach the cat, but my brain had a massive debate that felt like it lasted a lot longer.

Should I aim for the cat and put it out of its misery? All the arguments in my brain were saying yes. This cat was not going to live, and was clearly in agony. The humane thing to do, it seemed, was to aim the car in such a way as to ensure that this little guy would feel no more pain. But other parts of my frontal lobe resisted. There's a strong taboo against killing, and I found out how deeply rooted those feelings are in me.

I've always been pro-euthanasia in extreme cases. If somebody wants to die then they have that right. Who am I to tell them that they have to continue living in misery? On paper, I still think I'm right. But could I pull the plug or make the final decision if a loved one needed me to? Now I don't know.

I drove around the cat.

IsaacKuo
2011-Oct-18, 08:41 PM
As long as your maneuver didn't endanger any human lives, you made the right decision. Two seconds isn't enough time to be sure about what you're seeing. It's even possible to mistake a human for an animal.

Solfe
2011-Oct-18, 09:03 PM
Good call. I would have gone around the cat too. If you had two minutes or two hours to make a choice, perhaps I would advise something else.

I would not want to be explaining to the police/owner/passerby why I aimed a car at an animal, even if it was a humane act. No one else would have seen it from your point of view, they would judge you very harshly from their point of view.

grapes
2011-Oct-18, 09:07 PM
I've always been pro-euthanasia in extreme cases. If somebody wants to die then they have that right. Who am I to tell them that they have to continue living in misery?You just didn't have time to ask the cat, so yeah, right decision.

Tog
2011-Oct-18, 09:11 PM
Morally, only you can say what's right, but legally, you can't make that choice in my state. Only a law enforcement or game officer is allowed to put an injured animal down. Even if there was absolutely no chance of it surviving, the person killing it can still be charged with cruelty.

Rhaedas
2011-Oct-18, 09:14 PM
Putting aside the philosophical argument, which really in a split second you don't have to make, going around is the best option, if it does not put you into a worse situation. Granted, it was a small animal, so you would likely have just felt a bump, but what if it was a big enough animal (or person) that your hitting it caused your vehicle to go out of control and cause more damage and injury to others as well? As long as your swerve doesn't put you into someone else's car, avoid the problem.

slang
2011-Oct-18, 10:31 PM
I drove around the cat.

The right decision, provided you can do it without endangering other traffic. You don't know if the cat can still be saved, your assessment of its wounds in a split second may be wrong, the cat's owner might be willing to spend thousands on medical assistance, etc. You just don't know.

I probably would have stopped (if I could do so safely), and called the "animal ambulance" as we have them here, informing them about the cat. If they can help the animal, great. If all they can do is put it out of its misery, too bad, but at least they can still inform the owners about what happened to their pet (most pets are chipped here).

Cougar
2011-Oct-19, 12:30 PM
Morally, only you can say what's right, but legally, you can't make that choice in my state. Only a law enforcement or game officer is allowed to put an injured animal down. Even if there was absolutely no chance of it surviving, the person killing it can still be charged with cruelty.

Really? That's good to know. Also it takes this troubling question out of your hands.

Fazor
2011-Oct-19, 01:47 PM
Morally, only you can say what's right, but legally, you can't make that choice in my state. Only a law enforcement or game officer is allowed to put an injured animal down. Even if there was absolutely no chance of it surviving, the person killing it can still be charged with cruelty.

Which is interesting. Right now, there's a huge incident just about 30 min east of me where some guy had been keeping all sorts of large, dangerous, exotic animals. Apparently someone let 48 of them loose last night (unclear at this point what happened. he was found on the property shot to death, possible suicide possible homicide.) Lions, Tigers, Black and Grizzly bears, Cougars, Cheetahs, wolves . . . 48 set loose on the edge of a moderately sized city.

LE officials are having a good 'ol fashioned safari hunt -- they've shot and killed at least 25 of them. Apparently they're pretty aggressive animals. With 25 deadly animals still lose, I don't think they'd charge someone for taking one out on their own. Unless it was done recklessly or put someone in danger.

nosbig5
2011-Oct-19, 02:34 PM
You don't know if the cat can still be saved, your assessment of its wounds in a split second may be wrong, the cat's owner might be willing to spend thousands on medical assistance, etc. You just don't know.QUOTE]

Ultimately, that's how I reconciled this with myself. How would I feel if my dog had been hit in front of my house and was still alive, and I saw the next car aiming for her. I'd be pretty pissed. It's not the driver's call to make.


[QUOTE=grapes;1947546]You just didn't have time to ask the cat, so yeah, right decision.

Nice! No, that cat wasn't doing any talking. I realize there are a few not-very-subtle differences between human euthanasia and running over a cat, but it's the kind of incident that makes you stop and think.

korjik
2011-Oct-19, 02:36 PM
Which is interesting. Right now, there's a huge incident just about 30 min east of me where some guy had been keeping all sorts of large, dangerous, exotic animals. Apparently someone let 48 of them loose last night (unclear at this point what happened. he was found on the property shot to death, possible suicide possible homicide.) Lions, Tigers, Black and Grizzly bears, Cougars, Cheetahs, wolves . . . 48 set loose on the edge of a moderately sized city.

LE officials are having a good 'ol fashioned safari hunt -- they've shot and killed at least 25 of them. Apparently they're pretty aggressive animals. With 25 deadly animals still lose, I don't think they'd charge someone for taking one out on their own. Unless it was done recklessly or put someone in danger.

I assume you mean none of this? ('http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=QC8jnSaCqxY')

The Backroad Astronomer
2011-Oct-19, 03:47 PM
Today in Ohio, local insurace agent found dead by being digested by a tiger also in the area lions and bears, oh my.
(sorry Fazor couldn't help myself)

Fazor
2011-Oct-19, 04:06 PM
Today in Ohio, local insurace agent found dead by being digested by a tiger also in the area lions and bears, oh my.
(sorry Fazor couldn't help myself)

Considering what it's been like in the office the last few days, might be an improvement! :) (Hey, when it's your time to go, it's your time to go. Wouldn't mind going in a way as cool as being eaten by a tiger in the middle of Ohio!)

DonM435
2011-Oct-19, 05:57 PM
At first I would have suggested a citizen's arrest of the driver who hit the cat, (with maybe a little citizen's police brutality thrown in), but it may have been unavoidable.

Just the day before yesterday I was driving home along a narrow street and found traffic halted. It turned out to be a fellow trying to get a turtle off the road before the reptile got run over. (They do try to cross roads on rainy days like this one.) He was pushing and prodding in on with a long stick -- maybe it was the snapping type or maybe he just didn't want to handle it. I waited patiently for the good fellow to accomplish the mission.

Perikles
2011-Oct-19, 06:25 PM
At first I would have suggested a citizen's arrest of the driver who hit the cat, (with maybe a little citizen's police brutality thrown in), but it may have been unavoidable..This sounds a bit harsh. Cats move so quickly that it is hard to see how actually trying to run one over would be successful. Swerving to avoid an animal is probably more dangerous than just not reacting at all. As a motorbike rider I find that cats and dogs are just one serious road hazard.

Fazor
2011-Oct-19, 06:39 PM
This sounds a bit harsh. Cats move so quickly that it is hard to see how actually trying to run one over would be successful. Swerving to avoid an animal is probably more dangerous than just not reacting at all. As a motorbike rider I find that cats and dogs are just one serious road hazard.

From an insurance and personal standpoint, I always tell people to *never* swerve to miss an animal unless it's an animal big enough to pose the risk of serious damage/harm to yourself. Obviously, as with any "rule", there's exceptions. If you're moving slowly enough, the roadway is clear enough, etc., by all means try to spare the thing's life. But if you cannot immediately determine that you can safely maneuver around it, hit it. It's sad and horrible, but it's better than dieing because your car flipped after it went into the ditch, or smashed that other car you didn't notice head on.

'Round here, the only "always try to avoid if possible" critters tend to be deer or cattle/horses that have gotten lose. Except for today in Zanesville, where you apparently have to dodge the entire freak'n zoo. :-P

DonM435
2011-Oct-19, 07:17 PM
Yep. One night I was travelling on a deserted road only to find that a family of racoons or something like that was crossing ahead of me: at once I noticed ten or twelve little eyes reflecting my headlights.

I had lots of room on both sides, so I cut left, then felt the car almost flipping over, so I cut back right. Same thing, so left again. And again until I'd slowed enough to recover.

I was pretty shaken. The little varmints probably had a good time watching me.

HenrikOlsen
2011-Oct-19, 11:30 PM
It's sad and horrible, but it's better than dieing because your car flipped after it went into the ditch, or smashed that other car you didn't notice head on.
Or for that matter plowing through a bunch of pedestrians to avoid hitting a cat.

TJMac
2011-Oct-22, 07:04 PM
I was always taught that the life of a small animal is not worth the possibility of all the things that can go wrong when you swerve to miss one. I have many times kept my wheels straight and looked in my rear view mirror to see a rabbit or squirrel looking around going... "What the dickens was THAT?", and had I tried to swerve, or brake, very well could have hit it. (the opposite is also true, Ive hit some that I possibly could have avoided)

Life is indeed precious. But losing one to save another is a bad proposition.

TJ

BigDon
2011-Oct-22, 07:28 PM
Morally, only you can say what's right, but legally, you can't make that choice in my state. Only a law enforcement or game officer is allowed to put an injured animal down. Even if there was absolutely no chance of it surviving, the person killing it can still be charged with cruelty.

Though do remember that "can be" isn't nearly the same thing as "will be".Such things usually depends on who knows who, who else knows and how wide the information has spread that you've done it.

Nobody calls out CSI for roadkill.

Middenrat
2011-Oct-23, 12:45 AM
In a similar situation I chose death.
Driving a lwb Merc Sprinter in leafy Sussex I was overtaken by a sports bike which crested the ridge ahead and disappeared. A very few seconds later I also topped the rise and saw the grey squirrel whic the bike had neatly dissected laterally dragging itself off the road to the verge by its remaining front limbs. All the years of crushing drinks cans came in handy as I swiftly dispatched the poor bugger under the left front.
Deconstructing the incident later I could find no time in which I had pondered any dilemma here, the action was subconscious and I am reasonably happy, ethical.
Years later riding shotgun in a semi artic my driver was peeling off a roundabout when a mallard and her skein of ducklings ventured the slip road ahead of us. We were 'pedal-to-the-metal' in a turn and fully loaded and the wildlife came secondary. In this case the guy behind the wheel was 'correct' but I blamed him for driving so fast he couldn't take avoiding action.
Thankfully I'm out of the game now and I screech to a halt for hedgehogs.

baskerbosse
2011-Oct-25, 04:19 AM
At one time I was driving from Narvik Norway to Kiruna Sweden during a lemming migration.
They are everywhere. There is no way you can avoid running them over. Lots of them.

Peter

nosbig5
2011-Oct-26, 08:35 PM
I live in white-tailed deer country. I see them all the time during my normal drive-times, but luckily I've never hit one, or even come close. Many deer are hit near my home, especially at this time of year with rut coming on.

swampyankee
2011-Oct-26, 09:08 PM
From an insurance and personal standpoint, I always tell people to *never* swerve to miss an animal unless it's an animal big enough to pose the risk of serious damage/harm to yourself. Obviously, as with any "rule", there's exceptions. If you're moving slowly enough, the roadway is clear enough, etc., by all means try to spare the thing's life. But if you cannot immediately determine that you can safely maneuver around it, hit it. It's sad and horrible, but it's better than dieing because your car flipped after it went into the ditch, or smashed that other car you didn't notice head on.

'Round here, the only "always try to avoid if possible" critters tend to be deer or cattle/horses that have gotten lose. Except for today in Zanesville, where you apparently have to dodge the entire freak'n zoo. :-P

I've read far too many stories about drivers killing themselves and their passengers to miss a squirrel or other small animal. I recall one case, from when I was in high school, where a driver saved a fox and killed him(or her)self and the other three people in his/her car by running into a tree.

As an aside, where I live, you have to report hitting a dog, but not a cat (probably because there are many feral cats, and cats are not licensed). Obviously hitting something large -- like a horse (some horses got loose from a farm near a highway I used to commute to work) -- should be reported, although you may not be able to call the police, but would hope that one of the witnesses would call 911 for you.

Van Rijn
2011-Oct-27, 12:31 AM
I've read far too many stories about drivers killing themselves and their passengers to miss a squirrel or other small animal. I recall one case, from when I was in high school, where a driver saved a fox and killed him(or her)self and the other three people in his/her car by running into a tree.


The problem for me is reaction time. I wouldn't deliberately put myself in danger to save small animals on the street, but I could see myself in an accident all the same. In a town near where I live, somebody years ago had left some chickens out, and for some reason, some of the folks in the area thought it was a good publicity idea to maintain that population of chickens in the area. i think the idea is that it is supposed to give it a country look or something. The problem is that I've had a few occasions where a chicken darted out into the street from somewhere, and I've slammed on the brakes. It's just a reaction to the motion, and for all I know it could be a small child falling into the street. Of course, I almost immediately realize it's a chicken each time, but I've already slammed on the brakes by then. Luckily, I've never had a car right behind me, but I could see that happening sometime.

Fazor
2011-Oct-27, 01:32 PM
I don't have a problem with people hitting the brakes (as long as you don't also yank the wheel and go into a skid.) If the person behind you hits you, it's on them for following too closely. But the chances of those accidents being "really bad" are a lot less than they are when cars go off of roads or out of their marked lanes.

Tara, on the other hand, has hyper-sensative brake foot syndrome. I get tired of almost breaking my neck from her sudden brake-stomps for animals that are a quarter mile up the road and well off in the grass. If she even sees a living thing in her cone of vision, she stomps the brake. It's frigg'n annoying.

DonM435
2011-Oct-27, 02:13 PM
If you're on a multi-lane road and you slow down the slightest bit -- say to avoid hitting some creature in the street -- the chances are good that the driver behind you will change lanes and roar past you without a second thought, or even maybe a first one. So, take that into account.

BigDon
2011-Oct-27, 07:01 PM
I didn't want to say this as it is a bad way to think...

The only time I ever came close to doing violence to the mother of my children was when she turned us sideways to avoid hitting a *black bird* and we had both children in the backseat in their car seats.

With at least a forty foot drop on the left!

Fazor
2011-Oct-27, 08:26 PM
I didn't want to say this as it is a bad way to think...

The only time I ever came close to doing violence to the mother of my children was when she turned us sideways to avoid hitting a *black bird* and we had both children in the backseat in their car seats.

With at least a forty foot drop on the left!

Innit frustrating tho?

Me and Tara have talked about it; and she's to the point where she understands why those reactions are very, very wrong. Then the next time an animal is even remotely near the road, she's standing on the brake again! *grumble*