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Dog struck by car in La Jolla prompts reminder to drive safely

Miki the Golden Retriever
Miki, the Shaanan family Golden Retriever
Ashley Mackin-Solomon

At 12-and-a-half years old, the Shaanan family golden retriever Miki is not exactly the spryest dog in town. But after being hit by a motorist while walking off leash with his owner in The Village on May 23, Miki is barely walking or eating.

Nervously noting it could have just as easily been her grandson who was hit, owner Suzan Shaanan said she wanted to take the accident as an opportunity to share a broader message with the community about more mindful driving.

“It is getting crazy in The Village,” she said. “We need to impress upon people — particularly if they are driving a big car — to slow down when there is a lot of pedestrian traffic. We live in an area with older people, children, and lots of animals. If that means being a minute late for something, so be it.”

No stranger to near-misses, Shaanan said she, too, was almost hit by a driver going too fast in The Village. “I remember one day, I was slowly opening my car door and a driver almost took it off,” she said. “If my legs were outside the car, I don’t think I would have legs today.”

She added: “It is always a possibility any time you get behind the wheel of a car (that someone or a pet could get hurt). So stop and take a moment. You are driving a weapon, and you need to be careful with it. We should all drive better. I encourage parents to teach their children about safe-driving, and I’d like to remind adults that the repercussions of accidents are monumental.”

Miki is now recovering at home. The family describes him as “exceptionally well- behaved” and “always tied to us whether it is with a leash or not.” Shaanan said he was off leash during the accident — well, by accident.

“I have a few leashes we use,” she explained. “For some reason, the hook of one of them sometimes comes apart and the leash portion separates from the piece attached to his collar. I have arthritis and sometimes attach the leash to a carabiner on my waist. I was walking him and assumed the leash became detached, but I didn’t feel it because it wasn’t in my hands.”

Shaanan said she thought the dog was right next to her as she crossed Kline Street at Fay Avenue that fateful morning, and didn’t realize what had happened until it was too late.

“I was crossing the street and … the driver was looking at the people, and not looking for something smaller near the ground, so when I passed, the driver (must have thought it was clear) and made a right turn that hit Miki,” she explained.

The Light spoke with the driver, who declined to comment on the accident.

Miki was caught under the car, and was taken to a local veterinary hospital for immediate care. He was there for two hours so staff could perform X-rays.

Shaanan said: “Miki has fractures in his head and his muzzle is crushed. His body is OK as far as they could tell. We took him to a specialty veterinary hospital and he was there from Thursday afternoon until Monday night.”

Looking over at Miki, she pointed out his labored breathing and tuft of fur that rises and falls on his head due to a break in his skull. “When he breathes with his mouth closed, that’s where the air goes,” she said. “We still don’t know the full extent of internal injuries.”

A crowdfunding website is being set up for contributions to Miki’s care.