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By Jordan W. Charness

Unfortunately, Peter’s family was involved in a tragedy that led to a car-related death in the family over the holidays. While not as bad as it could have been, it still shook them up and drastically reduced their holiday cheer.

One of the bad things about having a dog in Canada is the constant necessity of walking it in minus 25°C weather. No matter how much each member of the family loves the dog, this particular task is one that is always fought over. Shouts of “it’s your turn” and “I did it last time” and the perennial parent favourite of “I told you that this would happen if we got a dog!” were frequent sounds heard in Peter’s household.

Even on Christmas day, the dog still had to be walked. Since no one from the family volunteered to, one of the house guests said that she would take the dog for a walk since it was something new and possibly fun for her to do. Peter’s family happily let her do it and hooked the dog up to the leash.

The leash was one of those extending leads on a spring that allowed the dog greater freedom of movement. This particular dog was a midsize breed with lots of energy and exuberance.

Things went very well for the first five minutes of the walk, right up until the dog spotted another and decided to give chase. The dogs took off, while the houseguest hung on to the leash for dear life. The leash reached its full extension and to everyone’s, surprise snapped in two! The dog took off across the street and tried to catch up with dog number two.

In so doing, Peter’s dog ran across the street and right into the path of an oncoming car. The car did its best to avoid the dog but to no avail; Peter’s dog was hit and died instantly. The car driver pulled over and was very apologetic and shaken up. There was no damage to his car but a lot of damage was done to Peter’s family and to the emotions of the driver, as well.

Accidents like these happen all too often. Sometimes they involve an animal and other times they involve small children or pedestrians. In these cases it is rarely the car driver’s fault. As long as the driver is driving within the speed limit and is doing so prudently and carefully, the death or injury caused is really not the fault of the driver as far as the law is concerned.

Even adults make the mistake of stepping out from between parked cars or stepping off the curb at night while dressed in dark clothing, making themselves invisible to oncoming cars. The tragedy that follows is truly accidental as far as the car driver is concerned.

If a person is hit by a car and injured in any way, you are obligated to call the police and ambulance. If an animal is hit by a car you are required to call the police and report it, if it is a large animal or large family pet.

Running over a squirrel, raccoon or other small wild animal does not usually require a police report.

The houseguest who took Peter’s dog for a walk was beside herself. Peter and the family were traumatized and the car driver felt miserable. All in all, not a great way to spend the holidays.

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