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Animal Law

A guide to resources available online and in the library on the law surrounding pets and service animals, wild animals, wild game, and livestock.

Backyard Animals

Backyard Animals

A common question we get at the library is whether or not someone in a suburban area of the state can keep certain animals in their backyard. Backyard animals are primarily regulated by cities, so whether or not you can have certain animals will depend on where you live in Texas. See the resources below for more details.

Important Terms


Fowl includes animals such as chickens, turkeys, geese and ducks. There is no state law regulating these types of animals. If you live within city limits, your city ordinances will determine whether or not you can have them on your property.


Livestock includes animals such as cattle, horses, mules, hogs, sheep and goats. For those that live within city limits, city ordinances will determine whether or not you can have livestock on your property. In addition to city ordinances, those who live in "closed range" counties would need to have their livestock fenced in so that they are not able to roam free. To learn more about fencing for livestock animals, please see the Fences and Boundaries page of the Neighbor Law guide as well as the Livestock page of the Animal Law guide for more information.


Beekeeping is regulated both at the state and local levels. The state agency tasked with regulating bees is the Texas Apiary Inspection Service (TAIS). In addition to state law, you will also need to consult your local laws to determine whether or not you can have bees on your property.

Texas Law

Understanding the Law

E-Books at the Texas State Law Library

You can borrow the e-books below with your library account. Don't have a library account? Texas residents can register for a library account online! Learn more about how to register online.