By Steven D. Miller
Do you have a right to own a pet? Or did you waive your right to own a pet by buying a license?
Animal ownership laws started out simply enough: valuable animals must be protected, dangerous animals must be eliminated. It is the gray area between the two extremes where people started demanding that politicians clarify. They first decided that dog collars were proof of a valuable dog.
Then lawyers got involved. Then in 1896 the Supreme Court determined in Geer v. Connecticut that working animals (guard dogs, draft horses, pack mules, sheep herding dogs, etc ) were privately owed and all other animals, including pets, were “wild” animals that are state owned.
The states then used this Supreme Court state ownership theory to justify licensing pets*. A pet is licensed to its government appointed guardian.
Then in 1979 the United States Supreme Court overturned their prior decision that the government owns your pets. The 1896 government ownership theory of animals in Geer v. Connecticut 161 U.S. 519 was overruled by the Supreme Court in 1979 Hughes v. Oklahoma 441 US 322.
States somehow just do not want to give up their persistent belief that they control you. Don’t let your State spit on your pets.
How wise is it to register your animals with the state, now that environmental extremists want to eradicate all invasive species?
Although it was not an animal issue, the U.S. Supreme Court in Shuttlesworth v. Birmingham 394 U.S. 147 (1969) determined that:
a person faced with such an unconstitutional licensing law may ignore it and engage with impunity in the exercise of the right … for which the law purports to require a license.”
For more information on how you unknowingly waive your rights to legalities that you don’t understand, read my book The Citizen Cannot Complain.
If you are a hunter, don’t misunderstand the “wild animal” status that was overturned. Treaties now protect migratory animals and Indian fish and game. You still have a duty to conserve wild and endangered animals.
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An essay on how lawyers keep changing the definition of the word license. Here.
*. according to the Supreme Court in Sentell v. New Orleans & C. R.