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ANIMAL, property. A name given to every animated being endowed with the
power of voluntary motion. In law, it signifies all animals except those of
the him, in species.
2. Animals are distinguished into such as are domitae, and such as are ferae naturae.
3. It is laid down, that in tame or domestic animals, such as horse, swine, sheep, poultry, and the like, a man may have an absolute property, because they continue perpetually in his possession and occupation, and will not stray from his house and person unless by accident or fraudulent enticement, in either of which cases the owner does not lose his property. 2 Bl. Com. 390; 2 Mod. 319. 1.
4. But in animals ferae naturae, a man can have no absolute property; they belong to him only while they continue in his keeping or actual possession; for if at any they regain their natural liberty, his property instantly ceases, unless they have animum revertendi, which is only to be known by their usual habit of returning. 2 Bl. Com. 396; 3 Binn. 546; Bro. Ab. Propertie, 37; Com. Dig. Biens, F; 7 Co. 17 b; 1 Ch. Pr. 87; Inst. 2, 1, 15. See also 3 Caines' Rep. 175; Coop. Justin. 457, 458; 7 Johns. Rep. 16; Bro. Ab. Detinue, 44.
5. The owner of a mischievous animal, known to him to be so, is responsible, when he permits him to go at large, for the damages he may do. 2 Esp. Cas. 482; 4 Campb. 198; 1 Starkie's Cas. 285; 1 Holt, 617; 2 Str.1264; Lord Raym. 110; B. N. P. 77; 1 B. & A. 620; 2 C. M.& R. 496; 5 C.& P. 1; S. C. 24 E. C. L. R. 187. This principle agrees with the civil law. Domat, Lois Civ. liv. 2, t. 8, s. 2. And any person may justify the killing of such ferocious animals. 9 Johns. 233; 10. Johns. 365; 13 Johns. 312. The owner, of such an animal may be indicted for a common nuisance. 1 Russ. Ch. Cr. Law, 643; Burn's Just., Nuisance, 1.
6. In Louisiana, the owner of an animal is answerable for the damage he may cause; but if the animal be lost, or has strayed more than a day, he may discharge himself from this responsibility, by abandoning him to the person who has sustained the injury; except where the master turns loose a dangerous or noxious animal; for then he must pay all the harm done, without being allowed to make the abandonment. Civ. Code, art. 2301. See Bouv. Inst. Index, h.t.