Q: Feeding a stray dog; am I liable?

August 19, 2008 | By Chatalie | 6 answers | Expired: 2712 days ago


I am just curious to know the legal ramifications of feeding a stray or a stray being on my property. There is a stray Dachshund mix that has been roaming around. I felt sorry for it so I took him in and bathed him, gave him flea medicine,fed him, and let him come in from the rain for a few hours. Now he won't go away (of course). I plan on letting him stay around until I can find someone who wants him, but I don't want him to stay in my house because he may get my own dogs sick. I am just curious to know if I am legally responsible now if he bites someone or damages someone's property. My main concern is if he were to get rabies or something. I can't take him to the vet and I didn't want to take him to the pound because they will put him to sleep after 72 hours. I can't keep him in because I already have two dogs. I will continue to feed him though because I don't want him to starve. What should I do?

Update August 22
I found out that the dog was abandoned by a family down the street who moved last week and just left him behind :_(
I named the dog "dog" and I have found a home for him. The family is a foster family (of human children) and they would like a puppy for the kids. My mother will pick him up soon. I wish I could keep him, he is very sweet. I did let him play with my dogs yesterday and today against my better judgment because they were very curious about him they could hear him outside. They should be fine though because they are fully vaccinated. Anyway I don't think he knows that he is a stray yet because its only been a week. He is still very friendly and likes to cuddle in my lap. He looks healthy except I can tell that he has worms because he scoots and he has a patch hair thinning from scratching fleas. I am just glad that he will be going to a forever home now.

Readers' Answers (6)
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Aug 26, 2008

I belive you are liable for the Dog since the Dog is in your care. You should contact your local animal control and ask them.

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Julie Kay S.

Aug 23, 2008

How odd! There were 11 answers to this question yesterday, but today there are just four. Why not simply call your local sheriff's department, animal shelter, humane society, etc., and ask them? Since laws differ, no one could give you exact advice that would for sure apply to your county/township.

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Aug 20, 2008

My sister had the same thing happen, exept this dog had 14 puppies. The animal control said if she was feeding it and it was primarily on her property it was considered her responsiblity. If you dont want to be liable please call a no kill shelter in your area or try and get it adopted through your local vet or pet store.

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Aug 19, 2008

There is a dachshund rescue in Houston.. they might be able to direct you where to take the dog. We have agreements with the different animal control offices that they give us the e-list and we go down there if there is a boxer on that list. Or in the most recent case a guy brought in a momma and puppies and wanted them put down, they called us to see if we wanted them. At least they will see if someone is looking for him to start then he will have a chance at his forever home. If you just feed him as a stray he has no real home.

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Aug 19, 2008

You are obligated to call animal control - so that someone looking for him can find him. At the shelter anyone who brought us a stray had to be referred to animal control, because we were legally not allowed to take the animals. Unfortunately they were a kill facility, and we are not. I semi broke the rule once when an IG was found stray. The animal control people were informed that we could hold the dog in order to find an owner over the weekend (since we were open and they were not). Nobody came to claim him, but by the time animal control came looking for him we were able to tell them he had a home already. I would have taken him if that was not the case. They still weren't happy about it.
Anyway, the best you can do is contact a no kill shelter and offer to pay his release fee before he is euthanized if he is not claimed or adopted. They may be willing to take him. You could offer to foster until a home is found - a lot of shelters would be more likely to take an animal if you provide the space for it. There are so many bad things that could happen to the little guy if you leave him to roam. The potential for liability is a problem, and so is the possibility of spreading things like parasites to your animals (strays usually have worms - and if he's in your yard your animals are exposed). If that is the case, your yard could have worms for a long time, depending on what kind he might have. It might be a good idea to take a fecal from the stray to your vet for testing - just in case.

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Jessica H.

Aug 19, 2008

Yes, I believe that you are legally responsible if you are feeding, housing, and caring for that animal. We had a guest speaker at school once about "dog laws", basically she's a lawyer for the ASPCA and she taught us a lot. My only suggestion is to call your local animal control to come pick him up and/or try to find a shelter that will take him in. Since you are caring for him, I do believe you are legally responsible for him.

I could be wrong, however, rules and regulations differ from state-to-state, so I would also suggest perhaps calling your local animal control and asking them about the laws in your area regarding caring for stray animals.

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