951.01 Prohibition against animals running at large.
No person, who is the owner or keeper of a stallion, jackass, bull, boar, ram, or buck, shall permit it to go or be at large out of its own enclosure.
951.02 Animals running at large on public roads; grazing on another's land.
No person, who is the owner or keeper of horses, mules, cattle, sheep, goats, swine, or geese, shall permit them to run at large in the public road, highway, street, lane, or alley, or upon unenclosed land, or cause such animals to be herded, kept, or detained for the purpose of grazing on premises other than those owned or lawfully occupied by the owner or keeper of such animals.
The running at large of any such animal in or upon any of the places mentioned in this section is prima-facie evidence that it is running at large in violation of this section.
The owner or keeper of an animal described in section 951.01 to 951.02 of the Revised Code, who permits it to run at large in violation of either of such sections, is liable for all damages caused by such animal upon the premises of another without reference to the fence which may enclose such premises.
A person finding an animal at large in violation of section 951.01 or 951.02 of the Revised Code, may, and a law enforcement officer of a county, township, city, or village, on view or information, shall, take and confine such animal, forthwith giving notice thereof to the owner or keeper, if known, and, if not known, by publishing a notice describing such animal at least once in a newspaper of general circulation in the county, township, city, or village wherein the animal was found. If the owner or keeper does not appear and claim the animal and pay the compensation prescribed in section 951.13 of the Revised Code for so taking, advertising, and keeping it within ten days from the date of such notice, such person or the county shall have a lien therefor and the animal may be sold at a public auction as provided in section 1311.49 of the Revised Code, and the residue of the proceeds of sale shall be paid and deposited by the treasurer in the general fund of the county.
951.12 Unavoidable escapes.
If it is proven that an animal running at large in violation of section 951.01 or 951.02 of the Revised Code escaped from its owner or keeper without his knowledge or fault, such animal shall be returned to its owner or keeper upon payment of the compensation prescribed in section 951.13 of the Revised Code for its taking, advertising, and keeping.
The person or county, township, city, or village whose law enforcement officer takes an animal running at large in violation of section 951.01 to 951.02 of the Revised Code is entitled to receive from the owner or keeper thereof the following compensation:
(A) For taking and advertising each horse, mule, head of cattle, swine, sheep, goat, or goose, five dollars;
(B) Reasonable expenses actually incurred for keeping each such animal.
Compensation for taking, advertising, and keeping a single herd or flock shall not exceed fifty dollars when such flock or herd belongs to one person.
Whoever violates section 951.01 or 951.02 of the Revised Code is guilty of a misdemeanor of the fourth degree.
As used in this chapter, "owner" means both of the following:
(A) The owner of land in fee simple, of estates for life, or of rights-of-way while used by the owners thereof as farm outlets;
(B) The department of natural resources with regard to any land that it owns, leases, manages, or otherwise controls and that is adjacent to land used to graze livestock.
Proceedings under this chapter do not bind the owner unless the owner is notified as provided in section 971.13 of the Revised Code.
971.02 Expense of partition fences.
The owners of adjoining lands shall build, keep up, and maintain in good repair, in equal shares, all partition fences between them, unless otherwise agreed upon by them in writing and witnessed by two persons. The fact that any land or tract of land is wholly unenclosed or is not used, adapted, or intended by its owner for use for agricultural purposes shall not excuse the owner thereof from the obligations imposed by this chapter on the owner as an adjoining owner. This chapter does not apply to the enclosure of lots in municipal corporations, or of adjoining lands both of which are laid out into lots outside municipal corporations, or affect Chapter 4959. of the Revised Code, relating to fences required to be constructed by persons or corporations owning, controlling, or managing a railroad.
971.03 Hedge, barbed wire or electrified wire partition fence forbidden.
(A) A person or corporation shall not have a willow or other live fence, except osage or blackthorn hedge.
(B) No person or corporation shall construct or cause to be constructed, a partition fence from barbed wire or electrified wire unless written consent of the adjoining owner is first obtained. Such consent is not necessary to the use of one or two barbed wires, provided that neither is less than forty-eight inches from the ground, and is placed on the top of a fence other than a barbed wire fence.
(C) Landowners may construct fences along controlled- access highways or limited access highways. As used in this division, "controlled-access highway" has the same meaning as in section 4511.01 of the Revised Code and "limited access highway" has the same meaning as in section 5535.02 of the Revised Code.
(D) Each thirty-day period that a violation of division (B) of this section continues constitutes a separate violation.
971.04 Duty of board of township trustees.
When a person neglects to build or repair a partition fence, or the portion thereof which he is required to build or maintain, the aggrieved person may complain to the board of township trustees of the township in which such land or fence is located. Such board, after not less than ten days' written notice to all adjoining landowners of the time and place of meeting, shall view the fence or premises where such fence is to be built, and assign, in writing, to each person his equal share thereof, to be constructed or kept in repair by him.
971.05 Costs for making assignment.
The cost due the township clerk and the board of township trustees for making the assignment set forth in section 971.04 of the Revised Code, shall be taxed equally against each of the persons, and, if not paid to the clerk within thirty days from the date of such assignment, shall be certified by him to the county auditor, with a correct description of the lands and the amount charged against each portion.
971.06 Collection of tax.
The county auditor shall place the amount authorized in section 971.05 of the Revised Code, upon the duplicate to be collected as other taxes, and the county treasurer shall pay it, when collected, to the township clerk as other funds are paid.
971.07 Partition fences; failure to comply with assignment.
(A) If either person fails to build the portion of fence assigned to him under section 971.04 of the Revised Code, the board of township trustees, upon the application of the aggrieved person, shall award the contract to the lowest responsible bidder agreeing to furnish the labor and material, and build such fence according to the specifications proposed by the board, after advertising for bids once a week for three consecutive weeks in a newspaper of general circulation in the county in which the township is situated.
(B) If no bids are received from responsible bidders as provided in this section, the trustees shall procure labor and materials at prevailing rates and cause such fence to be constructed.
(C) No person shall obstruct or interfere with anyone lawfully engaged in construction of a partition fence or in the performance of any other act described in this section.
971.08 Costs for building fences.
When the work is completed to the satisfaction of the board of township trustees, it shall certify the costs to the township clerk, and, if not paid within thirty days, such clerk shall certify them to the county auditor with a statement of the cost of the construction and incidental costs incurred by the trustees, with a correct description of each piece of land upon which the costs are assessed.
971.09 Duties of county auditor.
The county auditor shall place the amounts certified, as provided in section 971.08 of the Revised Code, upon the tax duplicate, which amounts shall become a lien and be collected as other taxes, and the board of township trustees shall certify the amount due each person for building such fence and the amount due each trustee and clerk for services rendered. In anticipation of the collection thereof, the auditor shall draw orders for the payment of such amounts out of the county treasury.
971.10 "Partition fence record."
The county recorder shall keep a book known as "Partition Fence Record" and all divisions of partition fences made under this chapter shall be recorded therein, and shall be final between the parties thereto and successive owners thereafter, until such divisions become unequal by a sale or division of land or a portion thereof, in which case a new division may be had.
971.11 Proceedings if one party owns entire fence.
If an adjoining landowner owns all the line fence, the board of township trustees may adjudge the value of the portion assigned the other owner, which may be recovered by the owner of such fence with cost of suit.
971.12 Report of assignment.
he report of the assignment of partition fences under this chapter shall be made and certified to the county recorder by the township clerk and the cost of the record thereof shall be taxed against the parties with the other costs.
971.13 Notice to landowners.
Notice to landowners shall be given in writing by serving a copy personally upon them, or by mailing a copy to them at their last known address by certified mail, return receipt requested. If the notice sent by certified mail is refused or unclaimed, notice may be served by sending it by ordinary mail. If the notice sent by ordinary mail is returned for failure of delivery, or if the addresses or whereabouts of any landowner involved is unknown and cannot with reasonable diligence be ascertained, notice may be served by publication once a week for three consecutive weeks in a newspaper of general circulation in the county in which the township is situated.
971.14 Division when line is in a stream of water.
When the division line of adjacent landowners is in a stream of water, along which division line it is impracticable to construct and maintain a partition fence, the board of township trustees shall assign to each landowner his portion of such fence upon his land, and the parts so assigned shall be built and maintained upon his own premises along the bank of such stream. The parts of the fence so assigned shall be joined by each landowner by constructing a fence or water gate from the end of the fence so assigned to him, nearest to the end and so assigned to the other landowner, to the division line in such stream.
971.15 Liability of landowner.
For determining the liability of one landowner by reason of the trespass of domestic animals upon the lands of the other, such fence is a partition fence.
971.16 Partition fence on township line.
When a partition fence in controversy is on a township or county line, the board of township trustees of the adjacent townships has concurrent jurisdiction, and the board of either of such townships may be called to perform the duties imposed as to partition fences in this chapter. Either party may call the board of the other township, in which case they shall act jointly, but separate record shall be made in both townships.
If a partition fence, or an enclosure, or a part thereof, is on the line of a township, or on the line of or in two or more townships of the same or different counties, actions prosecuted under this chapter may be brought before a judge of a county court or judge of a municipal court having jurisdiction in the township in which the defendant resides.
971.18 Duty of officers.
The court before whom action is brought, as authorized in section 971.17 of the Revised Code, shall issue process against the defendant, directed to the sheriff of the county in which the court is situated, to serve and return such process, and the defendant shall answer thereto, and like proceedings shall be had as if such defendant resided in the township where the action was commenced.
If a member of the board of township trustees refuses or neglects to perform a lawful duty imposed upon him by this chapter, he shall forfeit not less than fifty nor more than five hundred dollars, to be recovered by a civil action in the name of the state. The amount recovered shall be paid into the township treasury for township purposes.
971.22 Damage by trespassing animals.
If a horse, mule, ass, hog, sheep, goat, or any neat cattle, injures or trespasses upon land or an enclosure bounded by a partition fence, in consequence of the failure or neglect of a person to keep up and maintain in good repair his share of such fence, such person failing or neglecting shall pay to the person injured the damages sustained thereby, to be assessed, under oath, by three judicious, disinterested men, residents of the county, appointed by a judge of a county court or a judge of a municipal court having jurisdiction in the township in which the premises are situated. If such damages are not paid after demand therefor, the amount thereof may be recovered in an action with cost of suit.
971.23 Suit for damage by trespassing animals.
all actions under section 971.22 of the Revised Code, such assessment, reduced to writing, and subscribed by the persons making it, is prima-facie evidence of the damages sustained by the party aggrieved, but the court before which the cause is tried may set aside the verdict for irregularity or other good cause.
971.24 Animals subject to execution.
The animals trespassing, as described in section 971.22 of the Revised Code, are not exempt from execution issued on a judgment rendered in a court, or before an officer having jurisdiction, for damages occasioned by such trespass.
971.25 Construction and maintenance of water gate.
When the division line of adjacent landowners crosses a stream of water, through which it is impracticable to construct and maintain a partition fence, there shall be constructed and maintained a water gate on the division line of the adjacent landowners across such stream, that will turn livestock, and such water gate shall be built, kept up, and maintained in good repair in equal shares unless otherwise agreed upon by them in writing and witnessed by two persons. If either of the adjacent landowners neglects to build, keep up, and maintain such water gate or cannot agree upon the division of the same that each shall build, keep up, and maintain, the board of township trustees shall proceed to assign the portion of such water gate each shall build, keep up, and maintain, the same as if such water gate was a partition fence between adjacent owners. This chapter, applicable to the building, keeping up, and maintaining of partition fences, shall be applicable to this section, and for determining the liability of such adjacent landowners by reason of trespass of domestic animals upon the lands of the other, such water gate shall be a partition fence.
971.26 Liability of owner of trespassing animal.
If a horse, mule, ass, hog, sheep, goat, or any neat cattle, running at large, breaks into or enters an enclosure, other than enclosure of railroads, the owner of such animal shall be liable to the owner or occupant of such enclosure for all damages occasioned thereby. An animal, so breaking into or entering, is not exempt from execution on a judgment rendered in a court, or before an officer having jurisdiction, for damages occasioned by such trespass.
4959.02 FENCES; SCENIC RAILWAY'S OBLIGATIONS
(A) A company or person having control or management of any railroad except a scenic railway shall construct and maintain in good repair, or otherwise provide for, on each side of the railroad, along the line of the lands of the company owning or operating it, a fence sufficient to turn stock. If, pursuant to section 4907.08 of the Revised Code, the public utilities commission determines that the company or person having control or management of the railroad is in violation of this section, the commission may order the company or person to do any of the following:
(1) Construct, replace, or repair the fence;
(2) Provide the landowner with the required materials to construct, replace, or repair the fence;
(3) Pay the cost of the materials required to construct, replace, or repair the fence.
When the commission directs the company or person having control or management of the railroad to provide the landowner with the required materials under division (A)(2) of this section or to pay the cost of the required materials under division (A)(3) of this section, the landowner is responsible for the labor necessary to construct, replace, or repair the fence. Any fence constructed, replaced, or repaired under this section shall be the same as or comparable to existing fence on the property.
(B) In determining what remedy to order under division (A) of this section, the commission shall consider all of the following:
(1) The volume of train traffic;
(2) Train types and speed;
(3) The cost of fence repair or replacement;
(4) The accessibility to the railroad right-of-way through the property;
(5) Any other relevant factors.
(C) The commission may order an action or remedy under division (A) of this section only if comparable fencing exists along or within the abutting landowner's property boundaries perpendicular or parallel to the railroad's property line.
(D) If an owner of land abutting a scenic railway requests the company or person having control or management of the railway to construct and maintain in good repair such a fence along the abutting line of land of the railway, the company or person having control or management of the railway shall do so, and the cost of constructing and maintaining the fence shall be equally shared between the railway and owner of land.
(E) As used in this section, "scenic railway" means a railroad operated not for profit and exclusively as a tourist or historical attraction.
4959.03 Cattle guards and crossings.
Before operating a railroad, the company or person having control or management of such railroad shall maintain at every point where a public road, street, lane, or highway used by the public crosses such railroad, safe and sufficient crossings, and on each side of such crossings cattle guards sufficient to prevent domestic animals from going upon such railroad. Such company or person shall be liable for all damages sustained in person or property by reason of the want or insufficiency of such fence, crossing, or cattle guard, or neglect or carelessness in the construction or keeping in repair of such fence, crossing, or cattle guard.
4959.04 TEMPORARY CROSSINGS
In the case of a railroad in process of construction or a proposed railroad which passes through enclosed land, the company or person having control of the railroad during its construction shall provide suitable crossings for the owner or occupant of each farm, make and keep in repair fences along the line of the railroad through the enclosed fields, and protect crops growing thereon. When the company or person agrees with the owner of the lands through which a railroad passes that the owner is to build and keep in repair any portion of the fencing, and if such fencing is destroyed or damaged by fire from passing trains or by the elements, the company or person owning or operating the railroad shall rebuild or repair such fence if the property holder demands it. If the company fails to construct a fence after having received written notice to do so from the owner or occupant of lands through which the railroad passes, after thirty days from the time of serving the notice upon the agent of such company nearest such lands, the owner or occupant may proceed to construct it, and the company shall be liable to the person for the cost thereof.
Sections 4959.02 to 4959.04 of the Revised Code, relating to fences, do not apply to any case in which compensation for building a fence has been or may be taken into consideration and estimated as a part of the consideration to be paid for the right-of-way, so far as the fence has been or may be settled or paid for. Those sections do not affect, in any manner, any contract or agreement between a railroad company, or person having the control and management of a railroad, and the proprietors or occupants of lands adjoining for the construction or maintenance of fences and cattle guards.
Amended in 1998.
Reviewed and updated by AAHS in December 2001.
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