Famous Wacky Law Exposed as Not-So-Wacky


Don't tie a giraffe - or any other animal - to a lamp post in Vermont.

Have you ever read about that “bizarre” Vermont statute that prohibits tying giraffes to lamp posts? I’ve seen references to it in books and in far too many forwarded emails.

When David Tartter came across it, he had a novel idea: he actually looked it up. Guess what he found? The statute prohibits tying any animal to a lamp post. While giraffes technically are included, it’s doubtful the law would have assumed its legendary “wacky” status if it were reported as a statute that prohibited tying, say, dogs to lamp posts.

Here’s the actual statute:

A person who wilfully and maliciously breaks the glass about a street lamp or gaslight, or a lamp or gaslight in the grounds about a public building, or, without authority, lights such a lamp or gaslight or extinguishes the same when lighted, or in any manner interferes therewith, or injures any part of the fixtures supporting such lamp or gaslight, or defaces the same by painting or posting notices thereon, or fastens a horse or animal thereto, shall be imprisoned not more than three months or fined not more than $50.00, or both.

13 V.S.A. section 3785

If anyone discovers other legal humor mythbusters, please send them in.

— Thanks to David Tartter.


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Andrew Jay McClurg is a law professor whose teaching and research interests include tort law, products liability, legal education, privacy law and firearms policy. He holds the Herbert Herff Chair of Excellence in Law at the University of Memphis Cecil C. Humphreys School of Law.
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