How to Respond When a Dog Law Enforcer Comes to Your
To help dog owners cope
in this era of anti-dog legislation, the American Dog
Owners Association has issued advice on reacting to
visits by animal control officers and/or police.
with your community’s dog laws. Read carefully the
details of any licenses you must have before signing; if
you have questions get legal advice. Keep your rabies
certificates and licenses in a safe place, readily
available to you.
The following ADOA tips
are legal and based upon your rights under the U.S.
If confronted with an
official demanding to investigate your property, you
should ask to see the badge, get the number, the
official’s full name and phone number, supervisor’s name
and phone number, the agency represented, reason for the
visit, whether there is a complaint, who made it and
whether there is a search warrant (which is unlikely).
If the answer is “yes,” ask to see it. Do not answer any
questions; request they be sent or delivered in writing.
Have a notebook handy and write down all answers you
If you feel that a
search of your home might lead to threatened
confiscation or your dog or to a criminal complaint,
refuse entry unless the sheriff or police are present
with a search warrant. Be polite. Call your attorney
You do not have to
let anyone into your house or onto your property without
a properly executed search warrant issued by a judge.
You should not be
threatened with seizure of your dog(s) without a court
hearing or court order. If threatened get the names of
all officials involved. Property seizure without due
process is unconstitutional; this should include a court
hearing at every step. If officials seize a dog they may
not destroy or harm it until a judge rules that you are
in violation; this requires a full hearing. If
threatened with seizure do not answer any questions
and call an attorney immediately. Offer no
explanations; what you say will be used against you.
Do not volunteer any dogs or other property.
Write down everything
that is said and done as it happens. Stay calm and avoid
INQUIRIES OR THREATS
You may get phone
inquiries about the number of dogs you own and whether
any dogs or puppies are for sale. If someone claims to
be interested in a puppy get the name, address and phone
number. Say that you or another responsible breeder will
call back at a more convenient time. If the caller seems
genuinely interested invite them to see your puppies,
but do not say you are selling them and do not quote
If you think the caller
represents an official body, get the full name, title,
phone number, agency’s name, supervisor’s name, nature
of the inquiry, why it is being made and how your name
and number were obtained. Ask that all future questions
be submitted to you in writing.
If this advice seems
to be an over-reaction, remember that dog owners and
ethical breeders are increasingly being targeted. Be
aware, be cautious and know your rights.