An animal lover was left devastated when their cat, who wasn’t even one-years-old, had been run over by a car. However, unlike if a dog, horse, cattle, mule, sheep, pig or goat is run over, the driver responsible for injuring the cat isn’t required to leave their details. Determined to change this, the cat owner has launched a petition.
Luke Martin discovered that his kitten Nala had been run over by a reckless driver and his 10-year-old daughter was left absolutely heartbroken. What the family found most upsetting is that the driver simply kept on driving and didn’t look back.
Under the Road Traffic Act 1988, it is required that a driver must stop and give their details if they injure a dog, horse, cattle, mule, sheep, pig or goat. Yet cats have not been given this same legal status. Luke returned home from work, in Swindon, and found his neighbour had left the cat in a cardboard box on the a doorstep – apart from that, there was nothing.
Luke is determined to change this act and make it also apply to cats too. The 38-year-old has now started an appeal on the government’s official website in which he’s asked that cats be put under this act.
He told Metro: “There’s this blasé attitude to cats that they don’t matter. That it’s perfectly fine for someone to hit a beloved family pet and just carry on driving like they don’t need to do anything. I even see some people speed up and treat it like a sport to see if they can hit a cat.
“Some parents at the school round the corner from us drive like absolute lunatics because they don’t care because they don’t want to be late for their meeting.”
Since starting the appeal, Luke has spoken to other locals in the area and found that many had lost their cats in this horrific way.
The freelance consultant has accepted that people may not be able to control cats when they wander about and has agreed it is a “complex issue”. Yet he believes it is wrong that people are able to kill a cat and carry on as if nothing has happened.
He added: “It absolutely devastated my daughter. You know what people are like with cats. We got them birthday presents we got them birthday cards.
“If you talk to cat owners, they say ‘we don’t want any more legislation’. As soon as the cat gets knocked over and it gets posted on social media there’s a huge uproar. Something needs to be done.”
In order for Luke’s petition to be responded to by the government, it needs to receive 10,000 signatures and if it reaches 100,000 then it can go up for debate in parliament.
It’s not only Luke who is hoping for change in the law, Battersea Dogs and Cats Home have also demanded that cats be protected under the Road Traffic Act 1988.
Peter Laurie, the charity’s chief executive, stated: “This is a curious gap in the law, but one which can be easily addressed.
“Losing a pet in any circumstances is tragic but never knowing why and what happened makes it even more difficult.
“Introducing a requirement for drivers to stop and report if they hit a cat, coupled with a compulsory requirement to scan any deceased cats found in the area for microchips, could bring the much-needed closure to owners who otherwise may never know what happened to their beloved pet.”
In 2018, the first draft of the Cats Bill was submitted by Gillingham and Rainham MP Rehman Chisti. Unfortunately, it never made it past the first reading as it didn’t make it through to the parliamentary session.
Under its November General Election manifesto, Battersea called for the legislation to be revisited.
Cats Protection’s Director of Legal Services Dominic Sullivan said that the charity “fully supports an amendment to the law ‘making it a legal requirement for motorists to report an accident involving a cat to the police”.
“We also understand that the Road Traffic Act requires dog owners to keep dogs on a lead and under control on the public highway and that is, of course, not practical in the care of cats.
“Any change in the law needs to work in conjunction with compulsory microchipping of all owned cats. This is why we’re calling for a change in the law to ensure that all owned cats, like dogs, are microchipped.
“Across the UK, 32 per cent of cats are not microchipped so we continue to call on politicians to ensure changes in the law to improve feline welfare. We’d also encourage local councils to scan any cats they collect so their owners can be informed.
“It is heartbreaking for owners to not know the fate of a lost or missing cat, so we urge anyone who injures a cat while driving to take the cat to a vet for emergency treatment or report it to their local authority cleansing department if it’s a fatality.”
Click here to sign Luke Martin’s petition and grant cats the same status as dogs under the Road Traffic Act 1988.