Dog lays in ditch for a while after getting hit by car

By isak, April 6, 2009

I was walking out the door to mow the backyard on Saturday afternoon when the phone rang. So I paused in the doorway to see if the caller would leave a message. It was Andi. She and her husband were out on their motorcycle. They passed a woman standing in the ditch along the highway looking at a dog laying at her feet. Concerned that the lady may need some help, they stopped.

The lady was heading to her mom’s house from out of town. As she was driving down the highway (a two-lane highway), she noticed a dog laying in the ditch raise it’s head. Pretty amazing seeing as the dog is brown and black and without that movement might not have even been noticed. She brought him water and dog food from her car (funny how many people have water and food in their cars most of the time) and he drank and ate like crazy but would not get up.

When Andi and her husband tried to touch him, he winced with pain. Maybe he even snapped at them. They were on a motorcycle so they had no way to transport him to wherever, so she called me.

I packed a couple muzzles, some canned food, a leash and a piece of thick cardboard we could use as a backboard and headed for “just passed the Exxon station.”

The directions sounded simple enough until I drove just past the Exxon station and saw no one on the side of the road. So I turned around and drove a few miles the other way. Nothing. I don’t have a cell phone. I decided to drive still further the other way. About a mile and a half past the Exxon station, I found them.

I parked just down the road and walked back through a BUNCH of poison ivy (damn I hate that stuff) to where everyone was. There laying on his side with a smile on his face was a small brown and black mutt. His front right shoulder was swollen but the leg looked pretty good. He has a couple cuts on his head, but they seemed scabbed over. He had some pain in his hind leg, but even with these strangers standing around him, he made no attempt whatsoever to stand up. I thought maybe he had a dislocated shoulder. I petted him and looked him over and talked to him. He was so pleasant… he seemed so genuinely happy to see someone. We wondered how long long he had been laying in the ditch. Fortunately, the weather for the past couple days has been nice.

We decided to take him to Andi’s house.

I moved my car closer. Then muzzled him and loaded him into my car. On my way to Andi’s house, I stopped at my neighbor’s house. For a time she was a vet tech. I wanted her opinion on his injuries. She looked at him. She squeezed here and pushed there and pulled this and that. She thought the front leg was dislocated, but said that without x-rays, we could not know for sure. He whimpered when she was working on his back leg. We had him on his feet and I noticed he was knuckling under a bit on the back leg.

She injected him with some anti-inflammatory and pain meds. Then gave me some pills to hold him until we could get him to the vet the next day.

Initial x-rays done yesterday show the front leg is broken in four places — a far cry from the thought he had a dislocated shoulder. She also feels he was out there for a while and that the scabbed over cuts on the top of his head are part of the same accident. Initial treatment possibilities for the front leg are: splinting the leg, surgery or amputation. I am so hoping for splinting. The vet has him medicated and is to do further tests today to see what we can do for him.

Next thought is “who are the owners?” He has a collar but no tags — standard fare in more cases than not it seems. I say we put up FOUND DOG signs around where we found him and include “hit by a car” and “in vet care” to see if we get a call. If they call, there is a better chance they will step up and pay the vet bill. If they don’t call, that’s probably better to me than talking to someone who knows their pet is injured but they don’t want to take responsibility. I haven’t the patience for that.

A child stopped at Andi’s house one day looking for her lost dog. She knew Andi had a lot of dogs and thought hers might be there. But it wasn’t. The girl asked Andi if she could have one of her dogs. She said she gets lots of dogs: she gets a dog and takes it home, then it disappears. So she gets another one. And so on. You see, this is rural countryside with all kinds of wild critters — coyotes, bobcats, dog packs, etc — and the girl does not have a fenced yard.

None of Andi’s dogs will be going home with that little girl.

Andi has named the little dog from the ditch Harley because she and her husband were on their Harley when they came upon him. I guess that is better than naming him 1488 after the name of the highway…

Keep your fingers crossed for splinting.


  1. Erin says:


    My fiancé and I adopted a rescued puppy, Elly, about a day ago. She was VERY shy and in need of socialization with people; likely had been abused. We decided she was the sweetest thing we had ever seen and that we could help her have a great life! We picked her up yesterday and she was starting to get settled in – beginning to come up to us without using treats as motivation, rolling on her back for us to pet her, and exploring her environment.

    A few hours ago, our wonderful rescue became a nightmare. I was taking her for a walk before heading to the pet store to buy her a new harness and leash – we had one donated by the shelter that we were using. We were on the path behind our place and a woman with a cane came walking towards us. My poor puppy was terrified and started to thrash around frantically. She managed to slip her head out of the collar and bolted down the path. I ran after her, but when I turned the corner she was nowhere to be seen. My fiancé and I spent hours searching the woods behind our place, calling every resource possible, and posting flyers up.

    Then we got the call….a local vets office had her and was able to identify her through her microchip. A policeman had found her about one road over hit by a car and lying in the middle of the road. My worst nightmare became a reality. We immediately rushed over to see her and were told that she had significant injuries to her right hind leg; we still do not know if she has internal injuries. She has a dislocated hip and broke her leg in several places. The vet told us we had two options to consider: (1) see an orthopedic surgeon to look at complex surgical repair OR (2) amputate. While amputation was presented as the cheaper option, both options are way more than what we can afford on our student salary – I am a Physical Therapy Resident, and my fiancé is a full-time student working towards his Master’s in Business.

    So… I am sitting here, with little sleep, desperately searching the internet for some hope that we can afford this surgery to save her leg and keep her in our lives. I wonder if anyone has any suggesstions?

    We will be back in the hospital later today to make our decision!

    Pray for Elly!

    • isak says:

      I am so sorry for your situation, but I am glad you found her. Her fear could be from being on her own as a small pup as much as it is from abuse. I have several dogs that were born from a feral mom and you could easily think they had been abused when in fact, they never knew anyone that could have abused them. It’s like a gene from their mom.

      Take a deep breath and think for a minute before you make any decisions. No need to hurry so long as she is stable. I am not a vet and I don’t know the extent of your pup’s injuries, but make sure you ask the vet every possible question you have. The first question in my cheap mind is can the hip be relocated and the leg splinted? Seems to me that if the splint does not work, the option for amputation could still be applied later. Does it have a time-limit? I don’t see why it would.

      I have seen a lot of dogs overcome their injuries and continue to function very well. A friend has a pup that was hit by a car and laid in the ditch for a couple days before being found. The vet offered splint, surgery or amputation. We are going the splint route for financial reasons. So far so good. We will know more in a couple weeks when the splint comes off.

      Amputation in my parts is about $800.

      Second, you may call around to other vets and some of the rescue organizations in your area to see if they know of any vets that might work with you financially. Also check out this list to see if anyone might be able to help. But as long as Elly is stable, breathe before you decide. No hurry.

What do you think?

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