U.S. Pet Travel Laws Guide

Anticruelty Pet Laws

Pets are great friends. They're never too busy for you, will comfort you after a hard day, and provide protection and companionship. For all they give to humans, it shouldn't be too much to ask for humans to give them basic care in return.

Unfortunately, it doesn't always work out that way, so states have enacted various anticruelty laws. They vary between municipalities, but they generally require that owners provide adequate food, clean water, protective shelter and any necessary medical treatment. In some places, it's also against the law to leave your animal in a motor vehicle for an extended period of time in extreme weather. Injuring, killing or showing deliberate cruelty to an animal is also illegal. These laws also aren't just for dogs or cats. They can include horses, livestock, pigs, birds or any animal that you can keep as a pet.

Traveling with your pet can be a lot of fun if you make a few extra preparations before you leave town. Start by checking out the links below.

Related HowStuffWorks Articles:


  • Alley Cat Allies." Anti-Cruelty Law." (Accessed 1/26/09) http://www.alleycat.org/NetCommunity/Page.aspx?pid=302
  • The Animal Council. "Breed Specific Laws: Basic Primer." (Accessed 1/26/09) http://www.theanimalcouncil.com/BreedSpecificLaw.html
  • DMV.org. "Dog Safety." (Accessed 1/26/09)http://www.dmv.org/how-to-guides/dog.php
  • Governors Highway Safety Association. "Seat Belt Laws." (Accessed 1/26/09) http://www.ghsa.org/html/stateinfo/laws/seatbelt_laws.html
  • Hawaii Department of Agriculture. "Animal Quarantine Information." (Accessed 1/26/09) http://hawaii.gov/hdoa/ai/aqs/info
  • Hawaii Department of Agriculture. "Guide and Service Dogs." (Accessed 1/26/09) http://hawaii.gov/hdoa/ai/aqs/guidedog
  • Humane Society of Utah. "Dogs in Pickups - A Bad Idea." (Accessed 1/26/09) http://www.utahhumane.org/Education/Dogs/DogsInPickupsABadIdea/tabid/448/Default.aspx
  • The Humane Society. "Traveling by Car." (Accessed 1/26/09) http://www.hsus.org/pets/pet_care/caring_for_pets_when_you_travel/traveling_by_car.html
  • The Humane Society of the United States. "Fact Sheet." July, 2008. (Accessed 1/26/09) http://www.hsus.org/web-files/PDF/state_cruelty_chart.pdf
  • Moritz, Rob. "Health Department Discusses Change in Pet Vaccination Law." The Morning News. November 22, 2008. (Accessed 1/26/09) http://www.nwaonline.net/articles/2008/11/23/news/112308lrpetvaccinations.txt
  • NOLO. "Flying with Your Pet." (Accessed 1/26/09)http://www.nolo.com/article.cfm/objectId/9D7B6272-6049-4929-9816F017ADADAED3/104/284/294/FAQ/
  • PetPlace.com "Canine Vaccination Recommendations." (Accessed 1/26/09)http://www.petplace.com/dogs/canine-vaccine-recommendations/page1.aspx
  • Pet Travel. "Pet Restraint Systems - It's the Law!" (Accessed 1/26/09)http://www.pettravel.com/pet-safety-harness.cfm
  • Schwartzman, Laura. "Law Would Punish Drivers with Loose Pets in Pickup Beds." Southern Maryland Online. January 24, 2008. (Accessed 1/26/09)http://somd.com/news/headlines/2008/7080.shtml
  • Texas Department of State Health Services. "Pet Vaccine Requirements and Protocols." (Accessed 1/26/09)http://www.dshs.state.tx.us/idcu/health/zoonosis/laws/vaccine/
  • Understand-a-Bull. "United States BSL Locations." (Accessed 1/26/09)http://www.understand-a-bull.com/BSL/Locations/USLocations.htm
  • Van Sant, Will. "New rule could boot dogs out of pickup truck beds." St. Petersburg Times. August 26, 2008. (Accessed 1/26/09)http://www.tampabay.com/news/localgovernment/article784594.ece
  • Vet Info. "Rabies Vaccination." (Accessed 1/26/09)http://www.vetinfo.com/dencyclopedia/derabvacc.html