Pet owners should not leave their animals unsupervised outside in a non- enclosed area.
It took a handful of seconds to process what had happened. I was driving north down Center Road maintaining the speed limit.
There was busy afternoon traffic with cars surrounding me on all sides of
the road, many quite close to my own vehicle.
I rolled through the infamous State and Center intersection and had my eyes focused on the road when a tiny ball of white and orange fur darted out of nowhere, right in front of my vehicle.
There wasn’t time enough to even consider slamming my brakes or swerving out of the way. It must have gone right under my car, but I don’t think it hit any of my wheels.
Where did that cat come from? I wasn’t even in the lane closest to the sidewalk. The cat must’ve scurried off to safety because it was nowhere to be found when I circled back around.
Then I began to run the situation over in my head again and again.
Was there something I should have done differently?
Had I slammed on my brakes, the car behind me would have smashed right into me at 40 miles per hour.
Had I swerved, I would’ve had a head- on collision with oncoming traffic or side-swiped a vehicle in the lane to my right.
Had I slowed my vehicle to a stop and gotten out of the car to see what happened to that cat, I would have been endangering my own life, especially since this happened during Center Road’s rush-hour.
I am a defensive, safe and attentive driver. I was not in any way distracted when this incident occurred.
I know there is nothing I could have possibly done differently that would have resulted in a different outcome, and yet painful remorse still eats away at me that I could have made that animal roadkill.
While an animal running in front of your car is always a frightening experience, it is important to address the issue of pets being let loose to roam about outside.
There’s only so much drivers can do when an animal darts in front of his or her vehicle.
Human response time to these kinds of events is delayed, and shock usually occurs after the incident.
It’s easy to imagine what you’d do in this kind of a situation when you are thinking it over in your head, but unless you’re actually living the experience, there’s no way of knowing how you’ll respond.
It is in the best interest of pet owners to keep their pets inside or in a fenced- in yard they can’t dig or jump out of because it could be the difference between life and death.
Domestic animals are not the smartest of creatures, and they will inadvertently put themselves in harm’s way.
Yes, there are instances when an accident can be avoided had the driver not been distracted by their phone or radio.
It’s important to realize though that the inevitability of hitting an animal in the road is still very real for even the most attentive and alert drivers.
Being a pet owner requires the responsibility of keeping it somewhere secure at all times.
While the hapless cat that darted into the road could have been a stray, I want to make known the need for pet owners to understand and practice the indispensable responsibility of not letting your furry friends run loose around the neighborhood.
There are some who would argue that pets like cats have the right to be free or loose outside.
I understand that it may be in their nature to want that kind of freedom, but there is a difference between freedom of the animal and negligence of the owner.
At any rate, I would rather see a cat stuck in someone’s house than locked up in a cage at an animal shelter.
In a world where we like to tell ourselves “this won’t ever happen to me,” it’s critical to take a step back to consider how many accidents like this occur.
How often do you see roadkill on the side of the road? How often do you see deer crossing signs?
It is not difficult to be in the wrong place at the wrong time, especially when driving a vehicle.
If it happened to me, it could certainly happen to you.