Risks of distraint

published in McAfee & Taft AgLINC | July 1, 2012

By Jeff Todd

My article in the February 2012 AgLINC newsletter regarding the legal right to “distrain” straying animals (“When livestock stray: Landowner rights under Oklahoma’s fencing law”) did not address the additional risks of handling other’s animals.

In September 1888, Leonard Harker’s neighbor’s sheep were habitually escaping their enclosure near Missouri Valley, Iowa. Leonard distrained the sheep so they would not damage his fields and his neighbor could retrieve them. Unfortunately, the neighbor accused Leonard of stealing the sheep and shot and killed him. Leonard died on September 9, 1888, at the age of 49 and left 7 children. He was my great, great, great grandfather.

Proper communication with the authorities and the owner of straying livestock (if possible) is important in avoiding such calamity.

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