Owner billed after dog hit by car

Right now, there is a big uproar over the owner of a dog, that was killed on the road, being billed by the driver’s insurance company for damages to the car.  See here.

Let’s see now…beautiful dog, much beloved pet, run over by car, dies in owner’s arms, many tears fall… but, what is really happening here?

Are the owners not admitting that the dog, which weighed around 70 lbs, was allowed to roam the area freely; after all, Aurora bylaws require that a pet be kept on a leash when off the owner’s property. 

As for the driver being responsible, how could that be?  A dog is no more responsible for its actions than a small child.  As long as the driver was within the speed limit, and did not deliberately hit the dog when a collision could have been avoided, how could they possibly be responsible for anything? 

In the absence of any charges being laid against the driver, then in my opinion, the dog owners have paid the price for flaunting the law.  Maybe they should be charged.

Sometime in the late 1970’s, while walking on Dundas Street West pretty close to downtown Toronto, I saw a golden retriever suddenly streak out from a house, and run across the road directly under a car, between the front and back wheels.  There was a horrible “crump!” noise, and the dog lay motionless.  The driver slowed down a little, then hit the gas and took the first right turn. 

Clearly, the dog had no idea of the danger it was in, or perhaps miscalculated badly.  It actually ran onto the road, and ran headlong under the car.    

Secondly, while on the Executive Board of CUPE Local 79 sometime in the 1980’s, I read an article in the paper about a woman who was emotionally distraught after receiving a bill from either Metropolitan Toronto or the City of Toronto for damages to a tree hit by her husband’s car after he suffered a fatal heart attack while driving. 

I contacted the person who wrote the letter, a Local 79 member who had acted according to standing instructions, offering assistance if they were called in or disciplined.  It would have been so easy for the top brass to punish or fire the member just to appease public opinion, but to my knowledge, no action was taken.  Perhaps my intercession avoided an injustice taking place; any blame here lay clearly with management.

What is legally right, and what is morally right, can be two very different things.  Indeed, morality itself is subject to many interpretations. 

The owners of this unfortunate animal now say that they “do not plan to pay the bill, and are considering their options.”

Perhaps this implies that they plan to play the “victim” card, to avoid accepting responsibility for their failure to protect their pet from the hazards of running around loose.  Perhaps they even intend to collect “damages” from the insurance company and driver for “hurt feelings”. 

It’s too bad the dog doesn’t have any options. 

Jeff Goodall

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