Owners liable for animals on roadways, sheriff says

By Danza Johnson/NEMS Daily Journal

TUPELO – Holy cow, there’s a cow in the road.
Lee County Sheriff Jim Johnson said this is a phrase he hears at least three times a week in the county. Johnson said livestock blocking the roadway is an inconvenience to motorists sometimes, but it can be much more than that for the animal’s owners.
Johnson said a couple of incidences have come up lately involving livestock and property damage, so he wanted to ensure people are aware of their responsibilities.
“We need people to know that it’s best to make sure your animals are put up because whatever damage is caused by that animal is the responsibility of the owner,” he said. “We’ve had people hit someone’s livestock and mess up their vehicle and the (livestock) owner was out of money for it. We’ve had livestock tear up other property and the owner’s were liable. If your property causes damage to someone else’s, then you are responsible – period.”
Sheriff’s deputies have a list of people who own livestock in the county that they use to locate the animal’s owners if they get loose. Johnson said the lists are good to have because it keeps people from claiming other people’s livestock.
Another common livestock occurrence is that sometimes bulls will leave their owner’s pasture and go to another. Johnson said when this happens, the owner is responsible for food eaten by the animal. And if the owner does not claim it in a certain amount of days, the county will sell the animal.
Before an animal is sold, an attempt to contact the owner must be made.
“We want to make sure everybody knows what the law is,” said Johnson. “That’s all the more reason to keep your livestock put up, if possible.”

Contact Danza Johnson at (662) 678-1583 or danza.johnson@djournal.com.