Can I kill a dog for trespassing?

Post date: Dec 12, 2014 12:52:22 AM

No. Here's my layman's understanding of the law (authoritative legal feedback is invited):

  • Trespassing laws don't apply to animals.
  • Other laws (not trespassing laws) make animal owners liable for damages their animals cause (wherever they might cause them).
  • Other laws (not trespassing laws) allow people to kill animals that threaten their personal safety or that of their livestock or pets.
  • Leash laws, where they apply, generally prohibit people from allowing their dogs to be out of their direct control (e.g. not leashed and/or not otherwise under the owner's control, depending on the leash law).
  • Park laws, where they apply, often prohibit people from allowing their dogs onto picnic grounds, swimming areas, environmentally-sensitive areas, etc.
  • None of the above laws allow landowners to harm dogs simply because the dogs are on their land.
  • None of the above laws supersede animal-cruelty laws.
  • None of the above laws supersede trapping regulations.

In other words, anyone who thinks it's OK to kill a dog just because it crosses his property line is thinking outside of the law. Anyone who says that trapping ethics or trapping regulations should not apply to "trespassing dogs" just made that up.

See also: thoughts on private-property regulations.

"No trespassing sign" with caption customized by Scott Slocum.

Sign customized by the blogger at