Highway Dog Rescue


I’ve read articles about people who got hit by a car and killed while trying to help a wounded or simply frightened animal on the highway. I’ve warned people against doing this – stopping their cars and getting out on a freeway to try to capture a panicked dog. And yet, when a scared dog is running in front of YOUR car, how do you not stop and try to help?

I was heading down the main street of my town, maybe 100 yards from the highway on-ramp, when I spotted a fluffy little dog running down the sidewalk. At first, I looked around for a person jogging or on a bike. The dog was running so swiftly, I thought he was tailing his owner, who I just hadn’t happened to see yet. But I didn’t see anyone. I put my flashers on, and looked next for a place to pull over.

As I did so, though, the car that was two cars in front of me – and ahead of the running dog – turned right onto the on-ramp, in front of the dog, cutting him off from his straight-ahead dash. And, even as I screamed from inside my car, “NOOOO!!” the dog turned right, also, and started running up the on-ramp. And the car immediately in front of me slowed and followed – effectively pushing the dog up the on-ramp onto the highway. My heart started pounding and I broke into a sweat, certain that I was about to witness a dog getting killed in front of my eyes. I followed at a distance, my mind racing, trying to figure out if there was any way I could get past the dog to press him back off the highway. It seemed impossible.

But a miracle happened.

The two cars who had pushed the dog onto the highway quickly merged into traffic and were gone. But the driver of a pickup truck (which had to slow down to allow the bad drivers to merge) spotted the dog, gunned past the dog, put his flashers on, stopped his car in the right lane of the two-lane highway, and jumped out. He started running toward the oncoming cars, and the oncoming dog. Holy moly.

The section of four-lane highway just past the on-ramp is a high bridge that crosses a river, and the sides of the bridge and its center median are solid concrete. The driver of the truck had stopped just before the end of the bridge. The dog was, for a half minute, trapped on the bridge, in a two-lane section. I saw a chance.

Several cars on the highway swerved into the left lane to go around the stopped pickup. I gunned my car into the left lane, my flashers still going, and tapped my brakes wildly, stopping the cars behind me. Traffic halted behind and next to me – just as the dog, frightened by the guy who stopped ahead, ran back into the oncoming – but stopped – traffic past me.  Given that all the traffic was stopped, I jumped out of my car and ran back down the freeway, looking for the dog – and so did a dozen or so other people! Terrified, he ran under another big pickup truck, and as I was running in that direction, I saw several people dive under the truck, and one guy emerge with the squirming little dog completely wrapped in a coat. 

I’m a crier, so of course by this time I had tears running down my face. That’s probably why the guy who was holding the coat-covered dog asked me as I ran up, “Is this your dog?” I said, “No! But I can take him to the shelter!” This was happening really fast, because even as we were having this very brief exchange, people were getting back into their cars and starting to drive around the other stopped cars. The guy hastily handed me the dog, and said, “Cool, have a nice day!”

I started running with the bundle of squirming dog back to my car, even as I was saying out loud to myself, “But what about your coat?!” As I ran, I realized that another guy was running alongside me, grinning; it was the guy who stopped the right lane of traffic. “Good job!” I yelled to him, jumping into my car and nearly throwing the bundle of coat and dog onto my passenger seat.

It was only as I got off at the next exit, so I could turn around and head back to my town’s shelter, that I started shaking.

As I write this, two days later, the collar-less, microchip-less, matted little dog is still at my local shelter, as is the coat that was used to capture and scoop him up. But he’s safe now, no longer terrified and bolting, and will get another chance – if not in his last home, I hope in a more secure and responsible one.

Thank goodness for the goodness of all of you who stopped and saved the life of a little dog. None of us could have done it without the others.