Creatures great and small

David Matthews / July 15, 2010

Ribbiting story
As if they didn’t have enough problems in Greece, a busy northern highway was shut down for two hours in May when a horde of tiny frogs took over the road.

A traffic police chief described the scene as “a carpet of frogs” and estimated there were “millions” on the road. He speculated that the frogs had left a nearby lake in search of food.

In order to prevent any accidents, be it local motorists trying to dodge the amphibians or French motorists trying to round up dinner, authorities decided to close the highway until the frogs had cleared.

Pet passengers
The animals inside your car can pose just as much of a danger as the ones outside.

While most studies don’t provide specific statistics about accidents caused by pet distraction, it has been reported that 90% of pet owners travel with their pets, and 8% of motorists admit to driving with their pet on their lap.

The danger of unrestrained pets extends beyond driver distraction. During a crash, a flying dog or cat can create a serious hazard to everyone in the car, not to mention the pet itself.

The Humane Society recommends either locking your pet in a carrier while in the car or restraining it in a special travel harness.

The vehicle your pet travels in also can make a difference. Bark Buckle UP, a nonprofit pet travel-safety organization (yes, there is such a thing), creates an annual list of pet-safe vehicles, and this year’s top honors went to the Ford Edge.

Like a good neighbor
Unfortunately we can’t keep our pets safe all the time, which a family in Ontario, Canada, found out after their dog was hit by a car right in front of their home.

If that wasn’t bad enough, now State Farm Insurance is asking the family to pay for the damages to the car that killed their dog.

The accident occurred in March after Jake, a 12-year-old lab, was let out on his daily stroll around the family’s quiet neighborhood. Moments later his owners were informed that he had been hit.

Two months later, the family received a bill from State Farm for $1,700 that included the parts and labor required to fix a bumper, as well as the cost of a rental car.

The catch here is that a local bylaw requires pets to be on a leash when off the owner’s property. Therefore State Farm maintained that since Jake was hit in the street, his death was the fault of his owners, not the driver of the car that hit him.

Nonetheless, the family has informed State Farm that they will not pay the bill and offered some suggestions as to where it could be filed.

Long way from home
When you think about Iowa roadkill, you picture possums or deer or maybe a wolf. That’s why the Wilbert family were surprised to see a dead armadillo on U.S. 61 this spring.

Armadillos are most common in Central and South America, but can be found in the central southernmost states of the U.S., particularly Texas. Like people, very few ever decide to move to Iowa.

Knowing this, the Wilberts weren’t content to simply take a good look at the carcass, or even just stop and take a photo. Instead they pulled over, loaded the dead armadillo into their pickup truck and brought it home to show friends and family.

By the way, no matter how interested other people may pretend to be in the dead animal you brought over to their house, they’re really just hoping that you’ll leave soon.

A biologist at the Iowa Department of Natural Resources hypothesized that an armadillo in Iowa may be a sign that the species is expanding its range northward. Either that or this little guy lost a bet.

About the Author

Matthews has been chronicling the unexpectedly humorous side of transportation news since 2000. The stories are all true.

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