Pet laws are created to govern the ownership of animals by humans. Legally, pets are considered property and not living extensions of the people who own them. While most individuals define their pets on an emotional basis, the courts are only interested in the value of an animal, which is normally defined by a purchase price. Depending on what animal it is, it can have more value added to it if there is specialized training involved, such as animals that are used in assisted-living conditions.
Generally, pet laws can affect owners in all areas — from the federal level to the city level to individual zones within city limits. Prior to actually procuring a pet, it might be a good idea for a person to find out what laws govern the address where the animal is to be maintained. For example, it may be legal to own a pit bull in one neighborhood while the neighborhood across the street may require a higher insurance rate or even decree that it is illegal all together. Some pet laws require certain medical standards to be maintained, such as rabies shots for dogs and cats on a regular basis. Reporting of ownership may also be required, such as dog tags in certain counties or the registration and licensing of exotic animals.
Pet laws that govern ownership and treatment of animals typically are made on a legal and not moral basis. There is no recovery for emotional stress or emotional attachment. Depending on the circumstances, there can be legal ramifications to an individual who acts in a gross or cruel manner that causes harm or death to an animal.
There are two main areas of pet laws: the definition of what type of pet can be owned in a certain area, and how the animal must be maintained. The first explains what animals are considered pets and how many of them can be housed at a given area. These pet laws cover whether a potential owner must have a certain license to own a particular breed or type of animal, and what the maximum amount of any given type of animal is allowed at a single residence or facility. The second area defines what is required for the animal to be maintained in a humane manner, and what is considered neglect or cruelty.