We all know not to speed through stop signs or run red lights. We know not to steal things, trespass or drive around with our taillights out. The laws we follow day in and day out are practically ingrained in us. We know the difference between right and wrong and don’t typically have to stop to think about it.
Occasionally, though, some interesting minds come up with rules and regulations that just seem downright ridiculous — especially when it comes to pets — and they aren’t so easy to follow. Each and every law probably had a good reason or story behind it at some point. Even so, it can be near impossible to imagine why some exist.
Read through some of the most outrageous U.S. pet laws below and see how many you’ve broken.
1. The West
All you Denver dwellers out there, listen up: If your dog gets impounded, it’s their own fault. They had fair warning.
That’s right. In Denver, dogcatchers must notify dogs of impounding by posting notices on trees in public parks and along public roads. Signs must be posted for 3 consecutive days before dogs are picked up. You know, to make sure they don’t miss the notice.
If that’s not crazy enough for you, California has one even better: Keep a close watch on your pets because they’re in for some trouble if they’re caught mating within 500 yards of a church or school.
There must have been a good reason for the law at the time, right? But good luck trying to relay the message to your 4-legged friends.
2. The Midwest
Pet rules in the Midwest seem to be slightly less wild than those of its next-door neighbors but no less weird.
In Northbrook, Illinois, it’s illegal for dogs to bark for more than 15 minutes straight. The question is, does this law protect people or animals? Creating and enforcing a law for the sake of people’s ears, for example, seems like a bit of a stretch.
On the other hand, maybe a passionate dog lover thought it might keep pets safe. After all, if a dog is barking for that long, something must be wrong. A law preventing that from happening could end up benefiting animals in need.
Things don’t get any less odd in Zion, Illinois, where it’s illegal — yes, illegal — to give a lit cigar to a domesticated animal. It’s hard to imagine anyone ever handing a cigar over to their pet, but stranger things have surely happened. Either way, if you’re ever in the area (or you know, just in life), avoid giving in to the temptation.
3. The South
Southerners apparently aren’t any more logical when it comes to laying down the law for pets.
In Little Rock, Arkansas, it’s against the law for dogs to bark after 6 p.m. Ah, so that’s why every evening, at 5:59 p.m. sharp, you’ll hear a sudden lull of noise in the city as all the dogs wrap it up for the night!
Jokes aside, can you imagine a time when a law like that was actually enforced?
In Barber, North Carolina, it isn’t the barking that bothers authorities — it’s the fighting. Cats and dogs are prohibited from getting into fights, and while the premise makes sense, keeping up with a rule like is surely no easy task.
Let’s hope some furry lives were at least saved in the process.
4. The Northeast
In Creskill, New Jersey, the lawmakers may have gotten it right: Citizen cats of the town are required to wear 3 bells around their necks while outside to warn birds of their approach.
It sounds silly, but according to some, the law was put into place to protect the families of cats. Harmful diseases carried by birds can pass through cats (without affecting them) and on to humans, who suffer the brunt. In this case, a ridiculous-sounding law might actually make sense.
In Hartford, Connecticut, however, things get a little blurry again. This northeastern city downright bans dog education. The specifics are unclear; it’s hard to imagine any logical reason behind implementing such a rule. Perhaps a particularly paranoid individual predicted a dog uprising at some point in time?
Making Sense of the Laws
People have come a long way in understanding the needs of pets and how to care for them. Fortunately, crazy laws like these aren’t actually enforced.
Of course, it’s still fun to try and put yourself in lawmakers’ shoes for a while. Indeed, what were they thinking?