Pet Laws, Rules, and Regulations (13 Important Facts)

Pets come in all different shapes sizes and species. Each one has different needs and wants, but there are universal pet laws that apply to all, no matter the breed or animal type.

As a new pet owner, it can be difficult to know these laws in advance. It is an important part of pet ownership since, after all, you don’t want to unknowingly mistreat your pet or get on the wrong side of the law.

What Are The Most Common Pet Laws?

The most common you may have heard of is that it is illegal to not carry poo bags while walking your dog. It is also illegal to consume alcohol while riding a horse or similar cattle.

Encouraging your dog to bark unnecessarily is also a criminal offense, as well as failing to secure your pet with a suitable safety belt when out on a drive.

The most common pet laws apply to all and depend on the type of pet you own. While there are some specifics according to exotic pets, the most common laws are for domesticated household pets and animals.

What Rights Do Pet Owners Have?

Pets are regarded as property and do not have rights of their own, so all rights and responsibilities fall onto you, the pet owner.

  • Every person has the right to buy and own a pet unless you have committed an animal-related criminal offense.
  • If your pet is attacked by another pet, you have the right to pursue damages and take the owner to court if necessary.
  • In cases where ownership of a pet is in dispute, you have the right to file for custody of your pet.
  • You also have the right to board your pet wherever you wish, with the consent of the boarding organization or private individual.

Is It Illegal To Own Too Many Pets?

How many pets you can own in one household depends on where you live.

In Buffalo, NY you may own up to two dogs. In LA it is illegal to own more than three cats unless you apply for a kennel permit (this law is currently being revised to allow up to 5).

It is usually animal control, not the state, that determines how many pets you can legally own. It is a difficult law to enforce, but the rule of thumb is not to own more pets than you can care for. 

Even if you find yourself struggling to care for just one pet, you might find Animal Control officers on your doorstep.

Can You Kick A Dog If It Attacks You Dog Legally?

This is a legal grey area. 

You as a person have the right to defend yourself under the law, but dog owners also have a right to sue if their dog is injured.

The bottom line is, you have to prove that the dog was definitely attacking with intent to maim and that the kick was in self-defense and an absolute last resort.

What Qualifies As Animal Neglect Legally?

According to the Humane Society, an act that results in physical or psychological harm to a pet is classified as animal cruelty, whether the pet owner committed the offense with or without intent.

How Many Dogs Can You Keep In A Private House?

In the US, restrictions on the number of dogs allowed in private houses vary from state to state but do not often exceed three.

Except for rural US households. In the countryside where there are no restrictions on the number of dogs, you may own.

How Do I Get Around HOA Pet Restrictions?

How you get around an HOA restriction depends on the nature of the policy. Ideally, you should never try and get around HOA pet restrictions, and the HOA has the legal right to remove your pet if they find that any of the policies have been broken.

Alternatively, if you have a pet, or several pets before an HOA pet restriction coming into force, the HOA does not have the right to remove your pet(s).

Where Should A Dog Ride In The Car Legally?

According to the Animal Trust, a pet should always be seated on the backseat or trunk of your car (with the interior seats down, open, or removed).

Do Pets Have Legal Rights?

No. Pets do not have any legal rights of their own as they are considered property under the law. All rights are reserved to you, the pet owner to act on your pet’s behalf.

Can The Police Take My Pet?

The police can only seize loose and unlicensed pets.

The police cannot take household pets but can order you to ‘destroy’ your pet if it is found guilty of the dangerous animal offense and deemed a danger to the public.

Is It Legal To Kill Your Own Dog?

The legality of killing your own dog varies from state to state but the general rule is that it is illegal to kill your own dog inhumanly and without reason.

Humane killings of pets (such as euthanasia) remain within the legal right of the pet owner to do at any time for a justifiable reason.

How Many Animals Is Considered Animal Hoarding?

Generally, owning more than 15 dogs, cats, or dogs and cats combined is considered animal hoarding. Other pet types, such as fish, do not count in this number.

There is a legal limit on how many exotic animals you may own, but it varies between states and species.

Who Do You Call When Someone Has Too Many Animals?

You can contact the Humane Society, the ASPCA, or if in doubt contact your local police force who will direct the complaint to the appropriate local animal authority.

What Can I Do If A Dog Attacks My Dog?

  • Step 1 – Don’t Panic: Panicking could cause further injury to you, your dog, and the attacking dog. 
  • Step 2 – Do Not Retaliate: Trying to hurt the attacking dog in revenge gives the owner of the attacking dog right to sue for any injury, even if their dog attacked first.
  • Step 3 – Consult a Lawyer: If your dog has been badly injured, get the other owner’s details and appeal for witnesses if you can. Take all evidence you have to a lawyer who will instruct you further.

What To Do If A Dog Runs At You?

Do not panic and do not run or jump. This may startle to dog further and cause accidental injury.

It is best to say still and stay calm and ask the dog’s owner to call them back.

Should I Put My Dog Down For Biting Another Dog?

It depends on the severity of the bite. 

Dogs play-bite all the time, and also dogs fight. Dogs are like humans and cannot be expected to get along with other dogs 100% of the time.

If your dog is routinely aggressive and tries to bite often, work with a dog behaviorist before considering euthanasia.

Is Leaving A Dog Outside Animal Cruelty?

Whilst leaving a dog outside is not ideal for most breeds, it is not illegal to do so.

However, according to the humane society, leaving your pet outside in extreme temperatures, without access to shelter, food, or water is considered a misdemeanor and you could face criminal charges for neglect.