Nat'l Pet Owners Day: Top 10 Legal Reminders

By Jenny Tsay, Esq. on April 18, 2014 | Last updated on March 21, 2019

Happy National Pet Owners Day!

Anyone who's an animal guardian knows how rewarding a pet's companionship can be. But just like your human best friend, your best animal buddy may also get you into some legal trouble if you aren't too careful.

So in celebration of National Pet Owners Day, let's "paws" for a few moments to share our Top 10 legal reminders regarding pet ownership:

  1. Driving with pets can get you a ticket. Some states have an outright ban against driving while holding an animal on your lap. Others may allow cops to ticket you if your pet is distracting your driving.
  2. Not all animals are legal to keep as pets. Keeping unconventional pets may seem cool or trendy, but it could be illegal to keep certain animals like alligators as pets without a permit.
  3. Who gets the pet after a breakup or divorce? For the most part, pets are seen as property under the law, so whoever paid for or adopted the pet will probably be the one to keep it after a divorce or breakup. Pet custody arrangements can be made, however.
  4. Service animals and apartments. Landlords need to provide reasonable accommodations for service animals and their owners, even if the building doesn't allow pets. This is because service animals aren't considered pets under the law.
  5. Phony service animal claims are illegal. Although service dogs aren't required to wear specific identification tags under federal law, states may be able to charge dishonest owners who are passing off their dogs as "therapy dogs" with fraud.
  6. Livestock aren't considered pets. Depending on your local ordinance, livestock may not be allowed in your city without a permit and some types of farm animals are banned altogether. So you might want to say goodbye to your dreams of becoming a hipster farmer.
  7. Consider creating a pet trust (if allowed in your state). Some states, but not all, make it legally possible to leave property and money to your pets after your death using a pet trust.
  8. Workplace pet policies. Businesses that allow pets should have a written pet policy in place to avoid potential liability.
  9. Suing for your pet's injuries. If your pet was injured by someone else's negligence, you may be able to get compensation for the costs incurred.
  10. Your pets may be able to sniff out crime. Dogs may be able to spot the bad guys, but you'll probably need some more tangible evidence to prove your case beyond your canine's instincts.

So this National Pet Owners Day, keep these legal reminders in mind and enjoy the day with your furry (or feathered or scaly) best friend.

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