Hit an animal? : Here is what you are obliged to do. It is an unsettling experience for someone to hit an animal with their vehicle. You may be overwhelmed with a lot of questions about how to care for the wounded creature and what your legal duties are. In this article, we have tried to answer all of those queries.
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Under which Act are they protected?
Protection of animals is enshrined as a fundamental duty in the Indian Constitution and there exist several animal welfare legislations in India such as the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals Act 1960 and the Wildlife Protection Act 1972.
The killing of any stray animal intentionally will attract a fine of a mere 50 rupees. But if you intentionally kill a pet, you can face up to 5 years in jail. The law is a bit strange and borderline unfair, But even that is not implemented properly.
What is the Ground reality?
Anyone who has been living in India for a while knows the ground reality of protection of stray animals. There is no implementation of animal cruelty laws at all. Miscreants can abuse animals as they like and how much ever they like, although this is changing in recent times, we still have a long way to go.
What to do if you hit an animal with your car?
It is not very rare to witness incidents when vehicles hit animals on roads. It usually happens to cause a large number of animals are stray and have no home, but some happen because of the carelessness of the owner. Here are the steps you need to take:-
- Slow down and pull over – This is the first and most responsible thing to do. Do not panic and stop your vehicle in the middle of the road which can cause accidents. Slow down and pull over to the side of the road.
- Get down and check on the animal – After pulling over, the first thing you need to make certain is what animal did you just hit, is it a dog, cow or some wild animal? If it is a wild animal, you are advised to stay in the car and call the concerned authorities.
- Place the animal on the side of the road – If it is still alive, pick it up carefully and place it on the side of the road so that no other vehicle can cause harm to the animal. If it has died, still pull he body over so you can avoid any potential accidents.
- Give it the first aid – If it is still breathing and you don’t see an owner in the vicinity, call the authorities for help. While they arrive, try to give him first aid by placing it in a comfortable position or pressing the wound with a cloth to stop the bleeding.
- Check for tags – If it is someone’s pet, he would surely have a tag around his neck containing the owner’s information. Try and contact the owner and through mutual understanding, you can allow the owner to take it from there.
Hit and run might cause legal repercussions.
If you hit an animal and do not stop. A case of hit and run can be registered against you. As hit and run is a criminal charge, you can serve even jail time for this. So even if you hit an animal but feel unsafe to go out and help it (especially at night or in deserted areas), then please at least make a call to the concerned authorities. This may save a life and even you from criminal prosecution.
Who will pay the damages?
The biggest question arises, who will pay all the costs incurred. Well, there are various scenarios which we have to consider in order to get a clear picture.
If it is proven that you were negligent while driving, or were driving under the influence, you will be liable to pay damages to the pet owner, and also pay for the treatment of the animal.
But in most of the cases, the pet owner is responsible as the pet was his property, he should have taken better care for it. If your car incurred any damages in the accident, you are entitled to compensation from the pet owner and pets have to be leashed all the time according to law.
If the animal does not have an owner, then you may have to yourself take care of all the damages occurred to you. You may even have to pay for the animal’s treatment if you take it to the vet by yourself. Please consult the clinic regarding this before admitting the animal cause usually, vet care is paid by the government for all animals.
Conclusion – At the end, Life is a precious thing, if you have an opportunity to save it, please save it. All the legal formalities and protocols come secondary.