Strange animal laws: more than you might think

April 7, 2019

“My wife kisses the dog on the lips, yet she won’t drink from my glass.” – Rodney Dangerfield

Yes, I am the enemy. I am the awful person who tells you what to do and how to deal with your pets. I am the one who picks them up and puts them in animal jail. I am the one who makes you follow “Animal Laws.” In all actuality, I am all of these but there is more.

I am the person who tries to get your pets home. I am the person who is compassionate to the owner’s struggles. I am the person who steps into the line of fire when trying to protect the public from a grumpy animal. Lastly, I am the person who takes the yelling of a mad owner when I am trying to actually help them out.

My main goal has always been public safety. Then the safety of the animals. Then the law. Essentially, I am here to uphold the animal laws for Columbus. Many people think that our city ordinances are dumb. They don’t want to follow them. Some just don’t care. Each jurisdiction in Nebraska has their own set of laws for animals. Columbus has its laws. Platte County has its laws. Even the State of Nebraska has a set of laws. If you think our laws are stupid, then wait until I tell you of other animal laws throughout the world.

In Fort Thomas, Kentucky, it is illegal for your pet to “molest” pedestrians or passing vehicles. And yes, that is how it is worded in the ordinance. In Galesburg, Illinois, you could get in trouble for keeping a smelly dog. While in Wyoming, you could get a ticket for taking pictures of rabbits between January and April. This law has been changed but had been in the books since 1921.

In Hartford, Connecticut, it is illegal for you to educate your dog. I have to wonder if this goes for training it too or if it only goes for teaching it math. In French Lick, Indiana, black cats must wear bells on Friday the 13th. I guess people want to hear them coming so they don’t cross paths with them. In Oklahoma, you could be jailed for making ugly faces at a dog. And in International Falls, Minnesota, cats are forbidden to chase a dog up a telephone pole.

As you read these you have to wonder why they were made into laws in the first place. Many of these laws are over a century old. Most of the time the laws were created because it was actually an issue at one time. The other issue is that it could have just been worded incorrectly which makes it sound so stupid. Or maybe it was misprinted. There are so many different reasons that they appeared on the books.

Of course, some laws might not be that old. On April 16, 1984, the Board of County Commissioners in Skamania County, Washington, passed and adopted Ordinance number 1984-02. A perpetrator of this ordinance could be fined up to $1000 and a year in jail. This is just a misdemeanor, too. What is the awful act that could get you in trouble? The terrible act is the slaying of Bigfoot.

Yes, you read that correctly. Bigfoot.

Now mind you this 1984 ordinance was actually to amend the original ordinance from 1969, 1969-01. In 1969, a person could be punished with a $10,000 fine and/or jail time not to exceed five years. So at least they saw the error of their ways and dropped the penalties. To this day, no one has been punished for this.

So before you start yelling at me about Columbus’ silly ordinances just remember, it could be worse. Here you can make all the ugly faces at a dog you want. Just be careful because the dog might bite you if you offend it. It was interesting researching all the weird laws. I just barely scraped the surface. I also only did America. Other countries have some odd laws, as well.

As I previously said, many of these laws were enacted because there was an issue. They enacted the laws to stop said issue. Many times, I would find a weird law but could not back it up so I never put it in this article. It doesn’t mean that the really weird ones were not once in the books, but if I could not find them, I did not talk about them.

Shawn Flowers is the lead officer for Columbus Animal Control.