University of Vermont AAHS

California Livestock Laws


DIVISION 9. Animals Generally
PART 1. Animals at Large
CHAPTER 6. Transportation of Animals


16902. Permitting livestock on highway
A person that owns or controls the possession of any livestock shall not willfully or negligently permit any of the livestock to stray upon, or remain unaccompanied by a person in charge or control of the livestock upon, a public highway, if both sides of the highway are adjoined by property which is separated from the highway by a fence, wall, hedge, sidewalk, curb, lawn, or building.

16903. Driving livestock on or across highways after sunset
It is unlawful for any person to drive any livestock upon, over, or across any public highway between the hours of sunset and sunrise unless he keeps a sufficient number of herders on continual duty to open the road so as to permit the passage of vehicles.

16904. Presumptions or inferences in actions for motor vehicle collisions with animals
In any civil action which is brought by the owner, driver, or occupant of a motor vehicle, or by their personal representatives or assignees, or by the owner of livestock, for damages which are caused by collision between any motor vehicle and any domestic animal on a highway, there is no presumption or inference that the collision was due to negligence on behalf of the owner or the person in possession of the animal.


CHAPTER 7. Estrays
ARTICLE 1. Definitions and General Provisions


17001. "Taker-up"
As used in this chapter, "taker-up" means any person that takes up an estray animal pursuant to Section 17041.

17001.5. "Estray"
For the purpose of this chapter, "estray" means any impounded or seized bovine animal, horse, mule, sheep, swine, or burro whose owner is unknown or cannot be located.

17002. Disposal of seized animals
Any animal which is seized by, or comes into the possession of, an inspector pursuant to this part shall be disposed of pursuant to this chapter.

17003. City or county provisions unaffected by chapter; Notice of failure to claim impounded animal; Disposition Except for the provisions of the section, this chapter does not affect any law or regulation which is in force or which may be in force regarding estrays, the poundkeeper, or other pound officer within the limits of any city or county where laws regarding estrays are in force.

If no person appears and claims any impounded bovine animal, horse, mule, or burro within five days, the poundkeeper or other pound officer shall so notify the director. Upon receipt of such notice, the director shall take possession of any bovine animal and shall dispose of it pursuant to this chapter.

This section does not authorize any act which violates Section 597 of the Penal Code.

17004. Director taking up estray animals
The director may take up estray animals whose owners are unknown and cannot be located.

CHAPTER 7. Estrays
ARTICLE 2. Taker-up of Estrays

17041. Right to take up; Lien for expenses
Except as provided in Article 5 (commencing with Section 17121) of this chapter, any person that finds any estray domestic animal upon his premises, or upon premises to which he has the right of possession, or upon any highway which is adjacent to such premises, may take up the animal and have a lien for all expenses which are incurred in taking up, keeping, and caring for it.

17042. Confinement of animal; Notice to director
Any person that takes up an estray animal shall confine it in a secure place, and shall immediately file with the secretary a notice containing all of the following:

(a) A description of the animal seized.

(b) The marks and brands, if any.

(c) The probable value of the animal.

(d) A statement of the date and place where it was taken up and confined.

17043. Preservation of animal from injury; Nonliability for escape or death
The taker-up of an estray animal shall use reasonable care to preserve it from injury. If it dies or escapes from the taker-up at any time while he is holding it pursuant to this chapter, the taker-up shall not be held liable in any manner therefor.

17044. Compensation for keeping and care
The taker-up is entitled to the sum prescribed by Section 17095 for the keeping and care of the estray animal.

17045. Removal from possession of taker-up
Except as otherwise provided in this chapter, it is unlawful for any person to remove any animal from the possession of the taker-up.

17061. Delivery of animal to inspector
Upon demand of any authorized inspector, the taker-up shall deliver possession of the animal to the inspector.

17062. Removal from inspector as unlawful
Except as otherwise provided in this chapter, it is unlawful for any person to remove from the possession of an inspector any animal so delivered to him.

17063. Branded animals; Ascertaining ownership
If the animal which is seized or otherwise in the possession of the inspector is branded, the director shall cause a search to be made of the brand records to ascertain the owner.

17064. Notice to owner
If the brands or marks are recorded, the director shall immediately, by letter, notify the person in whose name the brands or marks are recorded.

17065. Notice of taking up; posting and publication
(a) If the owner is not found, and the estimated value of the animal exceeds two hundred twenty-five dollars ($225), the secretary shall cause a notice of the taking up of, and intent to sell the animal to be prepared. The notice may be distributed to the county department of agriculture and to all sales yards in the state. The secretary may limit distribution of the notice, however, to those sales yards that deal in the same type of animal as the animal that is taken up.

(b) The notice shall be posted for a period of 14 days on a bulletin board in each office of the Bureau of Livestock Identification.

(c) In addition to posting and distributing the notice, the secretary shall periodically publish a list of the animals for which notice was given pursuant to this section, including the brands and descriptions of the branded animals and descriptions of the unbranded animals in the classified section of a livestock industry publication that is in general circulation throughout the State of California.

17066. Public sale of low-valued animal
If the estimated value of the animal is less than two hundred twenty-five dollars ($ 225) and a notice is posted for five days on a bulletin board in each office of the Bureau of Livestock Identification, the director may cause the sale of the animal at a public sale and hold the proceeds as provided in Article 4 (commencing with Section 17091) of this chapter.

17067. Contents of notice of taking up
The notice of the taking up of an animal shall describe the weight, sex, breed, color, marks, and brands, if any, of the animal and shall state the time and place of its proposed sale.

17068. Claim of ownership; Time for filing; Determination
Any person that claims ownership in the animal may, at any time, but not later than 14 days after the first posting of notice, file his or her proofs of ownership with the director and the director shall proceed to hear and determine the claim of ownership.

17069. Return to owner; Payment of expenses of handling
If ownership is proved to the satisfaction of the director, the animal shall be turned over to the owner upon payment by the owner of all expenses which were incurred in the handling of the animal.

17091. Immediate disposal because of animal's condition; Proceeds of salvage
If the animal at any time while in the possession of an inspector is in a condition which requires immediate disposal, the animal may be disposed of by the director. The proceeds from the salvage, if any, in excess of expenses which were incurred in the handling of the animal shall be paid to the person proving ownership pursuant to Section 17096.

17092. Public sale; Validity of title conveyed
If after 14 days from the date of the first posting of notice no satisfactory proof of ownership of the animal has been made, or if the owner fails or refuses to pay all expenses which were incurred, the director shall sell the animal at public sale.

All sales which are made pursuant to this chapter convey a good and valid title to the purchaser. The former owner of the animal so sold is thereafter barred from all right to recover it.

17093. Private sale; Selection of appraisers
In lieu of public sale, the director may sell the animal at private sale at a price not less than the appraised value of the animal. The appraisal shall be made by a board of three stockmen who are qualified to make the appraisal, to be selected as follows:

(a) One to be named by the director.

(b) One by the person from whose possession the estray animal was taken.

(c) One selected jointly by the stockmen who are selected pursuant to subdivisions (a) and (b) of this section.

17094. Carcasses
Any carcass or portion of a carcass may be sold by the director at any time at the market price which prevails at the time of sale.

17095. Proceeds of sale; expenses; compensation of taker-up
The proceeds from the sale of any animal shall be paid into, and the expenses of holding, advertising, sale, and other incidental expenses shall be paid from, the Department of Food and Agriculture Fund. For the keeping and care of the estray animal, the taker-up is entitled to a per day payment based on the prevailing rates charged by commercial enterprises that feed livestock on a custom basis.

17096. Proceeds to owner

If any person shall, within one year after the date of the sale, prove to the satisfaction of the director his ownership of an animal which was sold pursuant to this article, the director shall order the net proceeds of the sale of the animal to be paid to such person.

17121. "Lawful fence"; Wire fence; Good and substantial fence; Cattle guards
A lawful fence is any fence which is good, strong, substantial, and sufficient to prevent the ingress and egress of livestock. No wire fence is a good and substantial fence within the meaning of this article unless it has three tightly stretched barbed wires securely fastened to posts of reasonable strength, firmly set in the ground not more than one rod apart, one of which wires shall be at least four feet above the surface of the ground. Any kind of wire or other fence of height, strength and capacity equal to or greater than the wire fence herein described is a good and substantial fence within the meaning of this article. The term "lawful fence" includes cattle guards of such width, depth, rail spacing, and construction as will effectively turn livestock.

17122. Right to take up and lien on estray in grazing county
In any county or part of a county devoted chiefly to grazing and so declared pursuant to this article, a person shall not have the right to take up any estray animal found upon his premises, or upon premises to which he has the right of possession, nor shall he have a lien thereon, unless the premises are entirely enclosed with a good and substantial fence.

17123. Designation of grazing counties; Trinity, Shasta, Siskiyou, Lassen, and Modoc Counties
The following counties or parts of counties are declared to be devoted chiefly to grazing:

(a) That portion of Trinity which is outside of the area described in Section 17125.

(b) That portion of Shasta outside of the area which is described in Section 17126.

(c) Siskiyou, Lassen, and Modoc.

(d) Any county or part of a county which is declared to be devoted chiefly to grazing pursuant to Section 17124.


17124. Designation of grazing county by declaration of supervisors
The board of supervisors of any county may by ordinance declare that such county, or part of such county, is devoted chiefly to grazing.

17127. Right to permit taking up on unenclosed property
The board of supervisors of Shasta or Trinity County may, if it determines that all or any part of the county under its jurisdiction has ceased to be devoted chiefly to grazing, provide by ordinance that estray animals may thereafter be taken up on unenclosed property in the county or part of county under its jurisdiction. It is the intent and purpose of this section that the provisions of law which are generally applicable throughout the state shall be extended to all of the county when the conditions upon which the exceptions were based have ceased to exist.


17150. Legislative findings and declarations
The Legislature finds and declares that improperly designed and installed electrified fences have caused injuries and in some instances have resulted in the deaths of persons, particularly children, coming into contact with the conductive elements thereof. In order to prevent further such accidents, it is the intent of the Legislature in enacting this chapter to provide for the study and development and enforcement of safety standards for electrified fences.

17151. "Electrified fence"
As used in this chapter, "electrified fence" means any fence and appurtenant devices, including, but not limited to, fences and devices used in animal control, and including, but not limited to, a fence consisting of a single strand of wire supported by posts or other fixtures, which has an electrical charge or is connected to a source of electrical current and which is so designed or placed that a person or animal coming into contact with the conductive element of the fence receives an electrical shock.

17152. Standards or specifications for electrified fences
No electrified fences shall be offered for sale, sold, installed, or used in this state, or otherwise connected to a source of electrical current, unless the electrical current is limited and regulated by an electrical controller which meets or exceeds the standards or specifications of the National Electrical Code of the National Fire Protection Association, the New Zealand Standards Institute, the Standards Association of Australia, or the Underwriters Laboratories for intermittent type electric fence or electrified fence controllers.

17153. Construction of chapter
The provisions of this chapter shall not be construed to preclude regulation of electrified fences by cities and counties, including, but not limited to, requiring the installation or use of electrified fences under permit, except that such regulation shall not permit the installation or use of electrified fences which do not conform to the requirements of this chapter.

Amended in 1996.
Reviewed by AAHS in December 2001.

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