Know the Law Before
Letting Your Pets Run Free
By Linda Nelson, Dallas County Exension
Sections 351.25 through 351.28 of the
Iowa Code contain legal guidelines regarding
a farmer's right to destroy unconfined
dogs or cats. Local jurisdictions such
as counties also may have regulations
on the treatment of domesticated animals.
Any person or peace officer
within his or her jurisdiction may kill
any dog or cat that is not wearing a
collar with a rabies vaccination tag
attached. According to Section 351.27
of the Iowa Code, a dog wearing its
rabies vaccination tag may be killed
if caught in the act of "worrying,
chasing, maiming, or killing any domesticaed
animals, fowl, or when such dog is attacking
or attempting to bite a person."
In addition, the dog's owner could be
liable for damages.
Will the killing of an
unconfined dog or cat always be lawful?
An animal that is merely trespassing
but has a rabies vaccination tag should
be contained and the owners contacted.
However, if it is not tagged, the law
permits destruction of the animal.
In any situation in which
the destruction of a dog or cat seems
predertermined or done inhumanely under
unreasonable circumstances, the killer
may be liable for harm done and charged
with a misdemeanor. It is important
that the destruction is not an act of
retaliation or that ignorance of the
law is not used as an attempt to avoid
Allowing cats and dogs
to run free in the country seems ideal
for pets. The risk to dog, in particular,
may be greater than acreage owners want
to take. Protect your dog by having
it vaccinated for rabies. Be sure to
attach the tag to your dog's collar.
It is great fun for dogs
to chase animals such as sheep and chickens.
Their nature is to attack and kill when
they chase. If you have neighbors with
animals that might entice your family
dog, you should consider confinement
methods that protect your family pet
from death and you from legal woes.
--Legal information for this article
was provided by John Baker, an attorney
for Iowa Concern