Strange Pet Laws - Separating Fact From Fiction

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While being an (often accurate) treasure trove of information, our beloved world wide web is also home to hearsay and outright fantasy. Any media - including this blog - should be examined with a certain degree of skepticism backed by demands for objective evidence for claims made.

This week’s look at strange pet laws may show that fun can be had with the implausible, the possible and the real. First a few actual laws on the books:

  • Fear of a haute couture takeover by companion animals has swept through Juneau, Alaska. Per city ordinance § 36.25.010 “No owner of any animal or person having control of any animal shall allow such animal to enter . . . into any barber shops or establishments for the practice of hairdressing or beauty culture.” Now those uppity pups and preening pussies are trying to steal our jobs! Build a wall! Or a glacier!

  • Lawmakers in Fort Thomas, Kentucky, wanted to check the actions of animal owners insofar as any nuisance behavior their pet may exhibit. Perfectly reasonable. However, the very first prohibited behavior on the ordinance’s list is the “molesting of passing vehicles.” (§ 91.40)

  • Dog owners in Galesburg, Illinois, are prohibited from allowing their dog’s odor to make others ill and annoyed (§ 90.005). As far as doggie deodorant goes, “roll on” means something completely different to our canine companions.

Other “laws” appear to be purely lore:

  • In the Golden State, it is purportedly unlawful for companion animals to mate within 500 feet of a school, church or tavern. Even progressive California frowns on extreme PDA, but we don’t think the animals have gotten the message. Perhaps because they can’t read? Would they care even if they could?

  • Oklahoma is not just famous for being the subject of musical theatre. At some point over the past six years, it became “common knowledge” that one is forbidden to make ugly faces at dogs, especially service dogs. Bloggers have cited Senate Bill 1853, an act relating to crimes and punishments under Title 21 § 649.4. An excerpt from the act states it is unlawful to “ . . . knowingly [commit] any assault, battery or assault and battery upon the person of a uniformed armed or unarmed licensed security guard . . .” No mention of dogs anywhere in the text, though someone chose to assume that the “security guard” could also have four legs and that making faces at him/her constitutes “assault.”

  • Back in The Windy City, it is “illegal” to serve a dog whiskey or take a French Poodle to the opera. However, there is no mention of such violations under Chicago’s municipal code §7.12.290  (Cruelty to animals). A good thing for all the booze-guzzling chihuahuas, Pomeranians and Yorkshire terriers who only want to broaden their cultural horizons.

Some state laws and city ordinances read as if officials were under mind-altering medication while scribing their city’s rules of good behavior. Following are a couple dome-scratchers of juris prudence that have since been scrapped:

  • Come Friday the 13th, residents of French Lick Springs, Indiana, were expected to don their black cats with bells. Apparently, the populace was under such “mental strain” during pre-war 1939 that an ordinance was drafted to help people avoid evil spirits. I suspect that at least part of that mental strain was triggered by the townspeople having to tell outsiders where they were from.

  • For a time in the “Cowboy State,” it was perfectly fine to shoot game animals with live ammunition - you just couldn’t snap their profile during certain months. Wildlife photography buffs in Wyoming, circa 1921, were prohibited from photographing wild animals, including rabbits, between January and April unless they paid five bucks for a permit to the state Game and Fish Commissioner.


Please share other weird pet laws here with links to the actual statutes, where possible. Thanks!