Strays Law and Legal Definition

To protect health and welfare, many states and local governments regulate stray animals. Such laws much also refer to such animals as 'estrays'. These laws aim to reduce the incidence of rabies and other diseases by animals that are wild or not vaccinated. Stray animal laws also seek to abate nuisances, such as when animals leave paw prints on freshly washed cars, and bury their waste in gardens, as well as make offensive noises and odors centered around breeding activity. Other reasons for these laws include protection of birds and other animals from predation by roaming animals.

There are regulations requiring licensing of pets, rabies vaccinations, and leashing. Humane shelters may be required by law to take in strays, however a person who finds a stray and keeps it for a certain length of time may be considered an owner and the shelter will no longer have an obligation to take the animal.

The following is an example of a state statute regulating strays:

"Any person who finds running at large about his residence or premises or the residence or premises of which he has charge any horse, mare, mule, jack, jennet, cattle, hog, sheep or goat, the owner of which is unknown, may take up such animal as an estray to be disposed of as provided in Sections 3-2-2 through 3-2-4."