TAME ANIMALS, in point of law, render their owners subject to certain liabilities.. There is no restriction as to what wild animals may be tamed; and the person who tames one, and retains possession, becomes the owner of it. There is, however, in all such cases an obligation on the owner to keep the animal with due care; and if it tends to be a nuisance to a neighborhood, he would, in extreme cases, be liable to an indict ment, or in most cases, to an action of damages. If the animal tamed is naturally fero cious, then it is incumbent on the owner to keep it secure, so as not to allow it an oppor tunity of doing mischief; and in case of accidental escape, it is seldom that a jury will be persuaded that We owner is not guilty of negligence, and liable for the damage done. There is a certain class of animals which may exist in a wild state, yet by long use, or a second nature, have become domesticated, such as dogs and cats, and are called manses etce nature, in contradistinction to ferocious animals, such as lions. With regard to animals mansuete naturce, the rule is, that the owner is only liable for mischief done by such animals when he has been guilty of some negligence in keeping such animals; and in practice this amounted to saying that, if the owner was ignorant that the animal had once before done similar mischief, he would not be liable, unless he had omitted to take care to restrain that evil' propensity. Thus, if a dog or cat, from some sudden whim, chose to attack some person, or other animal, not being incited to it by the owner, such owner is not at common law liable for the first offense; but in case of a second offense, he was generally held liable, at least whenever there was evidence of slight negligence superadded. Hence, if a dog worried sheep casually, the owner was held to be not lia ble, if it was the first offense. This state of the law was, however, found to work harshly, and a statute passed first for Ireland, then for Scotland, and lastly for England, the effect of which is to make the owner of a dog liable for damages caused by its wor rying sheep, even though it is the first offense, and though the owner was not guilty of any negligence. These statutes passed in 1802, 18G3, and 1865 respectively, and they
establish an exception to the general rule, which still is in force, as to mischief done by dogs, other than worrying sheep—namely, that before the owner can be made liable, it must be proved that he knew of the dog or cat's mischievous propensity to do the act in question, and did not use due care in restraining it. This is the rule where, for exam ple, a dog bites a person, or a bull gores a passenger. In short, negligence is the gist of the action, and more than mere ownership must be proved against the owner. Some times owners of lands plant spring-guns, traps, and similar implements, with a view to kill dogs, cats, and other vermin straying in such fields. The practice of placing spring guns and man-traps, with a view to kill poachers, was found once to prevail, and created a great outcry about fifty years ago; and the legality of the practice was questioned, but the judges in England held, that if the man injured was a trespasser, the owner of the land was not liable; consequently, a statute was passed to make it illegal in future to place such engines, except in, and close to, dwelling-houses. In Scotland the judges held that the practice was illegal at common law, and no statute was necessary. But though man-traps put in fields are now illegal, traps which destroy dogs or cats are not so, with this qualification, however, that the traps must not be put near a highway, where the dog or cat might be lured aside when lawfully passing, as this would be tak ing too great an advantage of the instincts of the animal. As regards the stealing of tame animals, it was a technical defect in the common law of England that the offense of larceny could not be committed upon them; but by statutes it is provided that in most cases the offense of stealing or destroying tame animals is punishable either by fine or by imprisOnment, in much the same way as larceny is punishable.