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15 Weird Dog Laws You Didn’t Know Existed in America

Your pup feels like part of the family, but alas, the law considers him "property," which explains how any of these weird dog laws can possibly exist.

Pitbull dog alway smile Natthapot Chantaraviboon/Shutterstock

Pit bulls no, snakes yes

In Minot, North Dakota, it is illegal to own or otherwise harbor a pit bull, including pitbull hybrids, bull terriers, and Staffordshire Terriers, a breed the American Kennel Club (AKC) describes as “lovable.” If you get caught with a pit bull, you’ll be required to remove it from the city limits or risk its being killed. Just to be clear, this law unqualifiedly bans pit bulls, without regard to your particular pitbull’s disposition. In fact, there’s a separate Minot law banning dangerous/aggressive dogs. Oh, but Minot does allow pet snakes.

Blue American staffordshire terrier, amstaff, staffordAneta Jungerova/Shutterstock

Other breed bans

Minot is far from the only place singling out certain breeds. According to this interactive map, a total of 354 municipalities ban pit bulls. Of those, 233 also ban Rottweilers, which is a pity for anyone who loves Rotties, which the AKC also describes as “loving.” And according to the ASPCA, other dogs that are banned (or regarded as “vicious”) in various municipalities across America include German Shepherds, Doberman Pinschers, and any dog that looks like any of those dogs.

lots of puppy dogsMrBrown Photography/Shutterstock

Doggie crowding laws

County and municipal governments tend to have a say in how many dogs you can have in your house. Where the max is five, as it is in Currituck County, North Carolina, many people won’t come close to hitting that ceiling. But in places like Roeland Park, Kansas, where you aren’t allowed to keep more than two dogs of six months age or older, at least not without a special permit, you can easily run afoul of the law.

pembroke welsh corgi dog running and chasing a leg of a running man on green grassMaxfromhell/Shutterstock

No playing “chase”

It’s not that you can’t play “chase” with your dog in the state of Pennsylvania. But if your dog is seen chasing you by someone who doesn’t quite understand the dynamic, that person can legally shoot your dog, according to Findlaw.com. Check out these other things you never knew were banned in America.

Dog With Sticking Out Tongue Sitting In A Car SeatAndrey_Popov/Shutterstock

Doggie seatbelt laws

Some recent changes to New Jersey’s laws regarding the treatment of animals has dog-owning motorists concerned that the state will impose penalties on drivers with unrestrained dogs in the car. According to Lombardo Law Group, the fines range from $250 to $1,000 per offense. “If you have more than one animal loose in your car, just do the math,” police superintendent Col. Frank Rizzo said. He clarified that it’s really for everyone’s safety. “Dogs and cats become projectiles in a crash.” To prevent the worst, keep your dog in a crate or pick up a doggie seat belt.

Drooling dog panting in a hot SummerReddogs/Shutterstock

You might have to do something really gruesome

In Crawford County, Georgia, a police officer forced a man to cut off his own dog’s head, under threat of arrest, Snopes.com confirms. A sheriff’s deputy arrived at Joe Nathan Goodwin’s house to investigate a report of the dog bitting a neighbor, and when the dog charged, the deputy fatally shot it. County law requires all dogs who bite to be tested for rabies, and testing can be done with only the animal’s head if it is deceased. What the law does not require, however, is the dog owner to decapitate his own pet, as a police investigator ordered Goodwin to do. But that doesn’t matter much after the fact, does it?

The golden retriever taking a bathChendongshan/Shutterstock

Smelly dogs must go

In an ordinance entitled “Noise, odor, and the like,” the local laws of Galesburg, Illinois, state that “no person shall keep or maintain any animal, poultry or fowl in such a manner to cause inconvenience or disturbance to other persons by reason of noise, odor, or other cause.” In other words, give your pooch a bath! Don’t miss the 53 mistakes almost every dog owner makes.

Irated white pomeranian close upleungchopan/Shutterstock

No annoying dogs

Some people claim that Hartford, Connecticut, specifically prohibits the education of dogs. We looked for such an ordinance but could find none. What we did find is that the capital of the Nutmeg State is sensitive to the problem of annoying dogs, which is to say that dogs with a habit of annoying people, cars, or other animals on city highways will not be tolerated under Section 22-362 of the municipal law. Any dog owner who allows their dog to be habitually annoying will be guilty of a misdemeanor.

young orange deers playing on the field with a small brown dogNatalia Zhurbina/Shutterstock

No chasing deer

In Massachusetts, it’s illegal to allow your dog to chase a deer. We’d call that a good thing, as the deer is probably faster.

French bulldog in the elevatorANASTASIIAKU/Shutterstock

No dogs in elevators

Glendale, California’s animal control laws specifically prohibit dog owners from bringing their dogs into elevators in public buildings. Service dogs are exempt, and that may be the point of this law: to make it easier for service dogs, including emotional support dogs, to do their jobs. These are the 30 things your dog wishes you knew.

Old man sitting on the sofa with his lovely dog and bookAgnes Kantaruk/Shutterstock

In New York cemeteries, Fido can be buried beside you


Most states don’t allow pets and people to be buried together. One notable exception is New York. In 2017, Governor Andrew Cuomo signed a law allowing the cremated remains of pets to be buried alongside their owners in human cemeteries. “Four-legged friends are family for many New Yorkers,” Cuomo said in a statement. “Who are we to stand in the way if someone’s final wish includes spending eternity with them?”

Animal-assisted therapy with dogJess Rojals/Shutterstock

In New Jersey pet cemeteries, you can be buried beside Fido

New Jersey has no law specifically allowing humans to be buried with their pets, but that doesn’t mean pet cemeteries there won’t let you arrange for your own burial alongside your canine companion—as long as your remains have been cremated first. In fact, the owner of Hamilton Pet Meadow Memorial Park and Crematory in Mercer County told NJ.com she has buried several pet owners with their pets. Check out these things you think are illegal but aren’t.

Dog howlkc.bangkaew/Shutterstock

Zero tolerance for barking…maybe

A great number of municipalities prohibit excessive noise, from dogs or otherwise. Some of the laws define excessive noise from dogs as barking that continues for at least a specified period of time (for example, in Northbrook, Illinois, it’s 15 minutes). Others seem to take a zero-tolerance approach. For example, Medford, Oregon, prohibits all barking that disturbs the comfort and repose of any person in the vicinity, which arguably, is all barking. Here are more everyday things you didn’t know were illegal.

Beautiful couple relaxing at home and loving their petnd3000/Shutterstock

“Who’s your doggie” laws

Since pets are almost universally treated as personal property under the law, it’s unusual that Alaska has now signed a law onto the books that allows judges to provide for the “well-being” of pets in divorce actions, much the way the well-being of children is taken into account when determining which parent will take custody following divorce, according to The Washington Post.

poor dog tied to a pole on pavement / Small dog on leash tied to a pole sitting on pavement, people in background.Stella Photography/Shutterstock

Laws against leaving your (fur) baby unattended

In the United States, it’s considered child endangerment to leave your kid unattended in a stroller, and we totally get it. But in at least one municipality, the law essentially extends to furry babies. In Minneapolis, it’s illegal to tether a dog, or any other animal, to a post, pole, or tree within the city limits. Read on to find out the strangest law in every state.

Lauren Cahn
Lauren Cahn is a New York-based writer whose work has appeared regularly on Reader's Digest, The Huffington Post, and a variety of other publications since 2008. She covers life and style, popular culture, law, religion, health, fitness, yoga, entertaining and entertainment. Lauren is also an author of crime fiction; her first full-length manuscript, The Trust Game, was short-listed for the 2017 CLUE Award for emerging talent in the genre of suspense fiction.