Hee Haw: Donkeys Arrested and Jailed


There are kangaroo courts….and then there are donkey jails. While kangaroo courts don’t actually have kangaroos sitting in court, donkey jails do indeed have donkeys cooling their hoofs in jail, at least in one town in India. In the Northern Indian town of Orai, eight donkeys found a tasty meal that just happened to be expensive saplings outside of the local jail complex. When the donkeys were caught red-hoofed chowing down on the pricey plants, the local police constable took it into his own hands. The furry criminals were arrested and herded off to jail. Hard to believe, but apparently this is true; even the New York Times reported the story. And there is some “cute animal” video footage of the arrest; it’s a nice break from cat videos.

The donkeys’ owner was in a frantic search for his animals. When he found out they were in the big house, he begged the police to set them free. But apparently the poor owner could not afford the bail. So, he sought justice through his local politician. Reportedly the bail was paid by the politician and the donkeys were released. The donkeys spent a total of four days in jail, there is no report as to whether they complained about the jailhouse food.

Now lest you think this Indian town is just a bit foolish, the jail superintendent explained that there is not really a donkey jail in Orai and donkeys can’t really be arrested. The donkeys were taken into “custody” to teach their owner a lesson. The owner had been warned repeatedly about his animals roaming in the town but had done nothing about it. Still, you have to admit, this story makes great copy and is good for a chuckle.

While law enforcement in California won’t arrest your dog if it is found roaming off-leash, the dog will be put it in a sort of doggie jail, more commonly called the animal shelter. As the owner of the dog, you are required to leash your dog whenever it is off your property (or not in a designated off-leash area). Even if the dog ended up roaming without your knowledge, you are still responsible if the reason the dog got out was due to your “failure to exercise due care and control.” (OCCO 4-1-46.) When you reclaim your dog, you will likely be fined and charged for the cost of the impound, sort of like bail, isn’t it?

Some counties in California will also cite an owner even if their dog is walking right beside them but is not on a leash. In Los Angeles, the fine for this violation starts at $250 for a first offense and can run as high as $1,000 for multiple offenses.

And don’t forget about the pooper-scooper laws. Violations for not picking up after your dog varies from county to county, or even city to city. The fines can get quite pricey. For example, in Pleasanton, a city just east of Palo Alto, the fine for failing to pick up after your dog can run you up to $750.00 for multiple offenses.

Allowing a dog to roam without a leash can also result in much more serious charges. If your dog bites someone, you are liable for the dog’s behavior. Not only can you be sued in civil court but if your dog is deemed dangerous or vicious, you could be charged with a misdemeanor or a felony. If your dog gets loose and attacks someone—even without your knowledge—and seriously injures or even kills that person, you will be charged with a serious felony, including manslaughter if a death occurred, if it is found that you knew the dog could be dangerous.

Known as the dog-bite laws, charges for your dog’s acts can land you in jail. Criminal defense attorney William Weinberg has been defending Orange County residents since 1993 against criminal charges, including criminal dog-bite charges. He offers a free consultation about your case. You can contact him at (949) 474-8008 or by emailing him at bill@williamweinberg.com.