While riding my bicycle I encountered cats and dogs who were hit by cars, were barely alive, and were obviously beyond saving. They were just laying at the side of the road, and visibly suffering. I have no training or experience in dealing with such a situation. If I can see that the animal is beyond saving, the only thing which keeps me from doing what I believe would be the right thing, is the lack of knowledge. My physical condition is not a problem, I just don't want to cause even more suffering by doing it the wrong way.

How can one save such an animal from suffering in a quick and sure way, without causing extra suffering to it? I'm interested in both the case where I can prepare and have some equipment on me, and the case where I am completely unprepared and empty-handed.

  • Would Biology.SE be better suited, or it's just totally unwelcomed on SE altogether?
    – vsz
    Jul 30 '14 at 13:04
  • Well strays and feral animals are not pets so they are out of scope. Based on your comment to my question you are asking about strays and ferals.
    – Critters
    Jul 30 '14 at 13:44
  • @vsz I would ask if biology.se would take it in their chat first. I have a feeling they would try to send you back here though.
    – Spidercat
    Jul 30 '14 at 14:17

If you are not trained for such diagnosis and the pet is not your property then it is not your place to make the decision or to take action.

In the US, the best course of action is to contact your local animal control and alert them to the suffering creature. If you do not have that information then you can call 911 and they will send out the appropriate responder.

If you are near a home there is a good chance that the animal belongs to one of the nearby homes. If it is not the person who you first contact there is a good chance they will know who do own the pet. Either they or you can then alert the owner and they can make the appropriate calls.

  • Especially if outside residential areas it's highly likely that the animal is a stray. If not in the middle of a residential area, calling any authorities does not make that much sense as it would take a lot of time for them to arrive. Might as well call the road workers to clean roadkill. Even in a city, if I call an emergency number they have a lot of bigger emergencies to tend for, I am quite sure they will not instantly dispatch someone, if they dispatch someone at all. If a response to a burglary or a human in danger can take up to half an hour or more, what do you expect in this case?
    – vsz
    Jul 30 '14 at 6:08
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    @vsz - Animal control is completely separate from police in most areas. 911 will usually be able to contact your local animal control. Believe it or not most people who work for these agencies love animals and will go out of their way to help an injured pet.
    – Critters
    Jul 30 '14 at 13:14
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    As to your comment about most being strays. Strays rarely get hit. Strays have learned to survive on their own and have learned to avoid traffic. Pets on the otherhand are mostly protected by their human companions and are the more likely victims. Even still it is not your place to make the call if an animal should be euthanized since you are neither a trained vet, nor the owner of said animal.
    – Critters
    Jul 30 '14 at 13:16
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    I think this is your only course of action either way, unless you possess a gun, and then you have a hard decision to make, that you're gonna live with forever. A bullet to the head will stop the suffering immediately, but veterinary science has come a long way and many animals we would have euthanized ten years ago can be saved today, and go on to live a good life. My dog broke his leg and while it cost $4000 to fix, there was a time when putting him down would have been best. If you're not prepared to make that decision, don't make it, call for help.
    – Jasmine
    Dec 8 '14 at 21:34

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