Weird and Wacky Dog Laws That May Surprise You

odd animal laws

Story at-a-glance -

  • Many odd animal laws written long ago are still on the books today
  • In Delaware, it’s against the law to engage in public displays of affection while walking your dog on a leash, and in Minnesota it’s illegal for a cat to chase a dog up a telephone pole
  • Some recently passed laws, such as tethering ordinances and legislation that allows first responders to provide first-aid to dogs and cats after a fire or car accident, protect animal welfare

By Dr. Becker

It's important for pet owners to be up to speed on the dos and don'ts of owning a dog, but some legislation on the books is so strange it's surreal. Yet, according to Karen B. London, Ph.D., a certified applied animal behaviorist and certified professional dog trainer writing for The Bark, the following laws are quite real:1

Illinois: It's illegal to give a dog whiskey or a lighted cigar, or to take a French Poodle to the opera in Chicago. In Galesburg, Illinois, it's also against the law for your dog to be smelly.

Minnesota: It's illegal for a cat to chase a dog up a telephone pole.

Delaware: It's against the law to engage in public displays of affection while walking your dog on a leash.

California: Permits are required for dogs to mate, and this can't occur within 500 yards of a church or school.

North Carolina: In Barber, North Carolina, dogs and cats may not fight, as it's against the law.

Arkansas: It's illegal for dogs to bark after 6 p.m. — good luck telling them that!

The odd laws don't end there. BarkPost also compiled additional laws that you've got to read to believe:2

Anchorage, Alaska: It's illegal to tie your dog to the roof of a car (it's shocking that there needs to be a law for this!).

Belvedere, California: A law on the books states, "No dog shall be in a public place without its master on a leash."

Hartford, Connecticut: It's illegal to educate dogs.

Northbrook, Illinois: It's illegal for dogs to bark for more than 15 minutes.

Laws That Protect Dogs Also Exist

Not every law pertaining to dogs is one that's good for a laugh. There are many that are incredibly important for protecting animal welfare. For instance, in June 2016, Phoenix, Arizona city officials passed a tethering ordinance to protect dogs. The legislation made it illegal to restrain a dog outside in extreme weather or tight-fitting collars or using tethers under 10 feet in length.

Until very recently, it was also against the law for a firefighter or first responder to give cats or dogs basic first aid care after being rescued from a house fire, car crash or other emergency that could be life-threatening to the animal. Fortunately, in 2016 a law was passed in Ohio that effectively allows first responders to help injured or sick dogs and cats that are victims of fires or car accidents. Some areas even have kits that can be used for mouth-to-snout resuscitation and offer the ability to provide oxygen to a dog or cat.

Pennsylvania also recently passed a law that makes it illegal to tether an animal outdoors for more than 30 minutes if it's below 32 degrees F or above 90 degrees F, while also increasing penalties to people who commit animal abuse.3

A law that has drawn much controversy in New York, meanwhile, makes it illegal for people to dog sit unless they are part of a licensed kennel — and the state Health Department has gone so far as to warn users of a pet-sitting app, called Rover, that they're breaking the law. However, those who use the app, or otherwise prefer to hire a dog sitter as opposed to leaving their dog in the kennel, say the law is antiquated. This includes City Council health committee chair Corey Johnson, who told the New York Daily News:

"It's so crazy … There are millions of cats and dogs in New York City, and people I think believe they can pet sit or have someone pet sit for them. To have a law on the books that says that's illegal is antiquated and not practical."

Not surprisingly, many of the weird laws listed above were written long ago and are also no longer relevant.

Beyond Dogs: Other Strange Animal Laws

It's not only dogs that are featured in some of the strangest laws ever written. In a compilation of bizarre California animal laws, law firm Bradley & Gmelich shared some of the wildest laws on the books that are supposedly true!4

In Arcadia, peacocks have the right of way when crossing any street, including driveways.

In Fresno, it's illegal to annoy a lizard in a city park.

In Glendale, it's against the law to bring your dog on an elevator.

In Hollywood, it's illegal to drive more than 2,000 sheep down Hollywood Boulevard.

In Los Angeles, it's against the law to hunt moths under a street light as well as to lick a toad.

In Pacific Grove, it's illegal to molest butterflies.

In Palm Springs, it's illegal to walk a camel down Palm Canyon Drive, but only between the hours of 4 p.m. and 6 p.m.

In Portola, it's against the law to carry a fish into a bar.

In San Diego, it's illegal to shoot jackrabbits from the back of a streetcar.