100908_running_dogs.jpgHouse gates are open. Dog smells a cat and runs after it out on the street. Car accidentally runs over dog. This is one of a dog owner’s worst nightmares. All dogs pass away, but hearing about those who have lost a beloved pooch this way—totally unexpected and virtually at the hands of someone else—saddens and scares the dog poo out of me.

I recently heard of a husband and wife losing a shih-tzu to a speeding SUV, and, knowing how much they loved their dog, you can’t really pin the death of their dog on negligence. Accidents happen. And if it had been a little child who had run out of the gate and got run over by a speeding vehicle inside a gated community, I’d hardly think anyone would blame the kid’s parents.

But why do dogs take off like escaped convicts, anyway? If your dog is male and unneutered, something must be in the air: a bitch in heat. Having your furry best friend neutered stands a 90 percent chance of reducing his, well, animalistic needs.

Another reason a dog likes running off is because all work and no play makes Bantay a dull—and very bored—dog. Boredom kills, and in this case, it may do so literally for an active dog. Regularly walking and playing with your dog will stimulate his mind and body. His dog instincts may also compel him to dash out of your house. Seeing a cat, mouse, or even another dog will drive him to run after it. So if you know your furry best friend can sprint like an Olympian, keep him leashed whenever someone opens your house gate.

On the other hand, fear often causes flight. Loud noises such as fireworks, construction, or thunderstorms may frighten the poor thing. If he’s scared, he may go on running until he feels he’s gotten out of harm’s way. Once you’ve figured out what scares your dog, try to make him feel safe by keeping him away from his source of stress.

But what if the worst happens? Is the driver of the car that runs over the dog liable? In some states in the US, if you do a hit-and-run with a dog, you will be cited for leaving the scene. A driver whose vehicle hits a dog or cat is required by law to find the animal’s owner or at least inform law enforcement within the vicinity while taking necessary steps to make sure the injured animal receives proper medical attention. Pets are also considered “owned property” in the US, so hitting one is much like running over a household’s mailbox—you have to pay for it to be fixed or replaced, which auto insurance plans can and do cover.

Here in the Philippines, Section 6 of Republic Act 8485 or “The Animal Welfare Act of 1998” states: “It shall be unlawful for any person to torture any animal, or to neglect to provide adequate care, sustenance or shelter, or maltreat any animal or to subject any dog or horse to dogfights or horsefights, kill or cause or produce to be tortured or deprived of adequate care, sustenance or shelter, or maltreat or use the same in research of expressly authorized by the Committee on Animal Welfare.”

The law means well, however vague it may be. But if a much loved dog, a member of a family, has been run over by a careless driver inside a subdivision with a speed limit and where children feel safe enough to play on the streets, I wouldn’t blame the dog owner who entertains the thought of taking the law into his own hands.

(Photo by Thang Nguyen via Wikimedia Commons)

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