11th September 2019
As the kids head back to school it means the school runs are back so there’s a lot more traffic than we’ve been used to the past six weeks. So, what does this mean?
Well, there’s an added risk to pets out and about on their daily walks and adventures. As a dog owner, it’s your responsibility to keep your dog under control, in your home and in public spaces. So, if your daily walking route takes you along a road it’s important to make sure the dog is on a lead held by someone able to control the dog in case they pull or try to bolt towards a passing animal… like a cat!
As much as we know our dogs and their character we have no idea what’s around the corner and something could scare them or entice them into the road and into the path of passing traffic. This can cause an accident and result in a hefty vet’s bill.
When a dog is involved in a road traffic accident there might be a few financial costs you’ll be faced with. These can include legal costs, compensation, vehicle repair costs, and even any lost earnings of the driver if they were injured. Here at Animal Friends, as we provide public liability cover on most of our policies as standard, our public liability team will often see these sort of claims. So far the highest payout for a vehicle road traffic accident involving a dog was a massive £20,250.72.
That’s not including the vet bill if your dog was injured, which averaged to about £1400.17 in 2017 according to our statistics.
Keeping safe on the roads
There are a few things you can do to try and keep safe around busy roads:
You’ll need to train your dog to be able to cross the road safely. Always start this training on quiet streets and get your dog to stop by the kerb. It will take practice and a lot of treats, but once they’ve mastered the stopping you can move on to crossing the road.
Come up with a keyword for you and your dog, something like “cross”, “let’s go”, or “walk”, this way your dog will know they’re allowed to cross the road. This will then mean your dog will wait for your signal before dashing across the road.
If it’s proving to be a struggle for your dog to stop at a kerb, you might want to stop a few feet away from a kerb on walks. This way your dog won’t be able to reach the road before you can see if the road is clear to cross.
Proper use of a lead
Dogs can pull, especially when they’re excited or something peaks their interest. If your dog is trained not to pull, great, but if not, you might want to look at starting. This can be quite hard with an older dog that has pulled its entire life. There are quite a few ways to do this, from stopping and changing direction once your dog starts to pull, to stopping entirely once your dog pulls and only start walking again once your dog comes towards you.
Be aware of risks at all times
Sometimes it doesn’t matter how well-trained your dog is, or how perfect its recall, don’t let them off their lead by the road. If something peaks its interest on the other side of the road it might bolt for it, and dogs don’t check if it’s clear from left to right before crossing! Make sure they’re kept on a short lead beside roads.
A harness helps with controlling your dog, especially larger breeds, and discourages jumping and pulling. Some dogs, especially ones with respiratory issues, will benefit from a harness instead of pulling against a collar.
Always, always, always, check that your dog’s collar is as it should be. Too loose, they might slip from it. You’ll need to check your dog’s collar for any wear and tear and if you find any damage you will need to buy a new collar.
Cats on the roads
With cats that are allowed to go outside, it’s a little harder to make sure they’re safe around traffic. As free spirits, cats probably cross a few roads on their nightly adventures. There’s not much you can do to teach your cat about the dangers of moving vehicles, this might be something they learn themselves if they experience a near miss. The only way to keep them safe from traffic is to keep them indoors, which might not suit you or your cat.
Drivers are not legally required to stop their car and report the accident if they hit a cat. It is, therefore, very important to ensure they’re microchipped so that the vets can get in touch if the cat is taken into their practice by a passer-by. In 2017 Animal Friends customers spent on average £1311.13 on their cat’s veterinary fees following a road traffic accident, not too far behind the costs to treat a dog’s injuries.
If you’re not comfortable with letting your cat out because of traffic you might want to consider building an enclosure in your garden. This would allow your cat to enjoy the outdoors while in a safe setting.
Whether you have a cat or a dog, or both, you won’t always be able to keep them from harm’s way, but buying an insurance policy for your pet will give you the peace of mind that when the worst happens you’re not alone. All of our insurance policies provide cover for accidents while most of our policies provide Public Liability cover.