Law on Drivers’ Duty to Report Injuries Caused to Animals in NSW

Sahar Adatia and Jimmy Singh.

 

On Monday 8 March 2021, an 18-month-old dog was struck and dragged by a school bus in New Hampshire in the United States, all while the driver of the vehicle failed to stop or return to see what he had hit.

Saphfyre the puppy was once “very full of life”, but after being hit by the Concord School District bus, was left with a fractured pelvis, internal bleeding from her bladder, bruised lungs, and a low heart rate, amongst other issues.

In fact, so severe were her injuries that her owners, Carrie Ladd and Huy Hong, were forced to reach out to friends and the wider community for help.

In a desperate plea for help, the pair launched a GoFundMe.com effort in order to offset the extensive veterinarian costs and expensive medical treatments that their beloved pet now requires.

On Saphfyre’s GoFundMe page, the Concord couple described their dog as goofy and bringing happiness to their family, but will now need to remain at the emergency vet to stabilise until she is well enough, following which she will undergo surgery.

“I rushed Saphfyre to the emergency vet where they have her,” Ms Ladd wrote on the fundraising post.

“She was given pain meds and fluids to help keep her comfortable.”

Ms Ladd continued that her puppy showed countless numbers of lacerations all over her little body and may even require a blood transfusion.

Meanwhile, for the family, the shock of the incident still lingers.

“My family is in absolute shock that someone could just keep driving like nothing ever happened,” Ms Ladd wrote.

“The driver of the bus didn’t stop at all or even come back to see what he hit.

“My fiancé called the school transportation system before the driver did but the driver admitted to hitting something and not stopping.

“We are trying all we can to make sure Saphfrye is taken care of the way she deserves so we can all have our family complete again.”

Since Saphfyre’s treatments began, the family of four and two dogs has spent over $3,000.

Through the GoFundMe page, they ae hoping to raise $10,000 to help cover the surgeries the puppy will have to undergo.

After launching the charity page, within half a day, the family had managed to raise almost $2,000.

 

School Superintendent Confirms Bus Driver Did Strike Dog and Has Been Taken Off the Road

 Following the incident, school superintendent at Concord District School, Kathleen Murphy, confirmed the driver of the bus did, in fact, strike the dog.

It is understood the driver continued to travel, returning the school bus to the garage and only then reported the incident to his supervisor.

Despite the driver having worked for the district for over 12 years and displaying a stellar driving record, the man was dismissed from his duties.

“The driver has been taken off the road,” Ms Murphy said, calling the incident an unfortunate one.

“He feels terrible.”

Fortunately, at the time of the incident, there were no students on the bus.

Ms Murphy has since also advised the district would do everything in its power to support the family, in particular with its medical expenses and taking care of the dog.

“We feel terrible about the fact that this family’s pet was hit by one of our school buses,” the school superintendent said.

“I know how important family pets are to children.

“The school district will do everything it can to support the family.”

NSW Law on What You Must Do If You Hit an Animal Whilst Driving

It may come as a surprise to learn, but in NSW, it is a legal requirement as the driver of a vehicle to report to either the RSPCA, an officer, or the pet owner, as soon as practicable, if you have injured a domestic animal (other than a bird) whilst on the road.

Equally, the driver also has a responsibility to take reasonable steps to make sure the animal is in as little pain as possible, or where possible take steps to alleviate the pain.

Specifically, this is set out in section 14 of the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals Act 1979 (NSW), which states that the driver of a vehicle which strikes and injures an animal (other than a bird) shall not fail:

  • Where, in consequence of the injury, pain has been inflicted upon the animal—to take reasonable steps to alleviate the pain, and
  • Where that driver believes, or ought reasonably to believe, that the animal is a domestic animal—to inform, as soon as practicable, an officer or a person in charge of the animal that the animal has been injured.

Where the aforementioned are not adhered to, serious consequences can apply. These include a maximum penalty of a $5,500 fine, or six months in jail, or both.

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