Block on Trump's Asylum Ban Upheld by Supreme Court
Welcome to the new FindLaw series, "If I Find," where we'll discuss the rule of finders keepers as it applies to different topics. We hope you'll check back regularly!
One day, you walk into your backyard and find a kitten sitting in your 49'ers lawn chair! She's meowing at you like crazy, refuses to leave, and a storm is coming. What could you possibly do other than let her into the house and feed her? Once the storm passes, you do a walk around your neighborhood, knocking door to door to see if anyone is missing a cat. Nothing.
So, despite the kitty's constant meowing, her fur covering every piece of clothing you have, and the hundreds of dollars you'll have to spend giving her shots and getting her spayed, you want to keep the little visitor.
Can you? If you found a stray animal, can you keep it?
Lost Property Laws
Most states have their own laws regarding finding lost property. While many states don't specifically refer to lost animals in their statutes, some states such as Maine, Massachusetts, and Wisconsin do address lost or "stray beasts" in their lost property statutes. While the laws do vary, the general provisions are similar. Usually, you can't keep lost property until you've taken certain steps to report the find and attempt to return property to the owner.
If you find a stray animal, you must:
Be sure to check your state's lost property laws for specifics before keeping a stray animal. Violation of local rules may result in criminal charges or civil penalties.
If no one turns up, enjoy your new pet!