Animal Control Issues
Livingston County is no different then any other county when it comes to animal control issues. Missouri law provides certain counties and cities the authority to pass ordinances within their respective jurisdictions. For those cities and counties which are not empowered to impose such ordinances we rely on state law to guide our citizens and control of their animals. Livingston County does not have any animal control ordinances other then zoning related laws.
Missouri Revised Statute Chapters 270 and 273 covers domestic animals and dogs and cats. Strangely enough dogs and cats are not defined under Chapter 270 as domesticated animals but identify only livestock as domestic animals. Such livestock are not permitted to roam free and citizens who wish to keep livestock are required to provide adequate fencing or structure for confinement.
Our office responds to a large number of livestock related complaints each year. Often times we discover fencing down due to an act of Mother Nature. Other times it is due to poor and inadequate fencing. We most often work with the owner of the livestock if there is a fencing issue on the first call. Repeated calls and failure to provide adequate fencing may result in a summons to Associate Court and potentially the seizure of livestock. We are aware of landowners obtaining damages from wandering livestock causing damage to crops, property, and even injury or death related to motor vehicle accidents. The largest animal complaints received by our office are due to dogs and cats roaming free. We understand that pets are often very much a part of our families and the vast majority of our citizens take pride in caring for all of their animals.
When people permit their dogs and cats to run at large it creates the potential to become frustrating for others. Many people who reside in the country want to allow their pets to run free in their home yard. The problem often lies when some pets decide to wander and explore.
Livingston County government does not have animal ordinances related to controlling pets such as cats and dogs. The City of Chillicothe has mandatory requirements for animal owners and pet registration. The City of Chillicothe contracts with the Livingston County Humane Society (LCHS) and employs an animal control officer. The LCHS is not a part of Livingston County government and does not contract with Livingston County.
Many of the rural towns and villages have an organized municipal government. These officials often see and hear complaints of pets being allowed to roam free. Missouri law permits these government bodies to pass ordinances regulating pets. Some of our smaller towns have ordinances or have attempted to address this issue. As with many things the costs of such enforcement often limits their ability to install and act on such ordinances.
We receive a substantial number of calls each year about pets roaming free and doing such things as invading a neighbor's trash, trespassing, chasing livestock, scaring children, and fighting with other animals. Unfortunately our office has limited enforcement and legal authority to help with many of these complaints. We gladly work with our citizens and animal owners in educating what can or cannot be done. When a vicious animal is reported we take every action possible to work with the animal owner on confining the vicious animal. Vicious animal calls receive a high level of priority from this office.
Missouri Revised Statutes 578.009 and 578.012 address the crimes of animal abuse, abandonment, and neglect. Potentially, citizens who do not maintain proper control of their animal (including dogs and cats) may be summoned to Court. This can also result in the seizure of the animal(s) and the owner/possessor being responsible for the costs of care and housing for the animal(s).
Many minor complaints of dogs and cats or livestock should be addressed with the animal owner(s) and if no resolution is found then you should call this office for assistance with the understanding our authority is somewhat limited with enforcement powers. Some animal complaints are referred to Civil Court for resolution for one or both parties when there is no abandonment, care, or abuse issue.
Missouri has specific law covering the keeping of exotic animals and mandates certain animals be registered with the sheriff's office:
Keeper of dangerous wild animals must register animals, exceptions--penalty.
578.023. 1. No person may keep any lion, tiger, leopard, ocelot, jaguar, cheetah, margay, mountain lion, Canada lynx, bobcat, jaguarundi, hyena, wolf, bear, nonhuman primate, coyote, any deadly, dangerous, or poisonous reptile, or any deadly or dangerous reptile over eight feet long, in any place other than a properly maintained zoological park, circus, scientific, or educational institution, research laboratory, veterinary hospital, or animal refuge, unless such person has registered such animals with the local law enforcement agency in the county in which the animal is kept.
2. Any person violating the provisions of this section shall be guilty of a class C misdemeanor.
We appreciate all efforts in properly caring for and controlling your livestock and pets.