Is Hit and Run on a Domestic Animal Illegal in Minnesota?
Thursday, September 12 was a tragic day for a Rochester family after their dog snuck out of the house and was hit by a truck. It's every pet owner's worst nightmare, and sadly, a reality for this sweet little family. Now, they are attempting to make a change that will not only make people slow down, but also hold them more responsible for their actions.
Lindsay Valentino started a petition earlier this week and already has several hundred supporters, myself included. The reason behind the petition, she witnessed the truck hit her beloved pup and then speed off. Mortified, she called the police only to discover that it is in fact, not a crime to hit and run on a domestic animal. She's hoping the city of Rochester will change that.
I spoke with Rochester Police Capt. Casey Moilanen to further understand the rules in Rochester. He tells me that there is a collision law, so legally when you hit something (anything), you are supposed to stop to make sure it's not a person. However, if the driver saw that it was a dog and chose not to stop, that's technically not against the law. Moilanen added, "I would hope people would have the decency to stop, alert the owner and/or report it, but I wouldn't recommend approaching the animal."
I also reached out to Minnesota Representative Tina Liebling about the situation and she said that according to the MN House researcher she spoke with, there is no statute specifically addressing hitting a dog and failing to stop. However, she did mention the same statute Moilenan referenced, section 169.09, subd 1, which reads:
Driver to stop for collision; injury or death.
The driver of any motor vehicle involved in a collision shall immediately stop the vehicle at the scene of the collision, or as close to the scene as possible, and reasonably investigate what was struck. If the driver knows or has reason to know the collision resulted in injury to or death of another, the driver in every event shall remain at the scene of the collision until the driver has fulfilled the requirements of this section as to the giving of information. The stop must be made without unnecessarily obstructing traffic.
According to Liebling, the driver may have violated the law by not even stopping to investigate. "It is possible that caselaw may refine this further and require a person to report if a pet is injured," she said. Liebling also says this is a state law issue that the city can't change. "This does seem like a gray area in the law and one worth investigating further and perhaps tightening it up to require information/reporting when the injured being is clearly a pet," Liebling added.
Lindsay has since reached out to City Council and is working with Michael Wojick. She tells me, not only do they hope to get this law changed, but they're also attempting to enforce speed regulation on the street where the incident took place - 3rd Street in Country Club Manor.