Tresspass? What would you have done?

I just dealt with an event at the Grrr household.

I’m sitting in my recliner when I noticed my dog acting weird in the back yard. He keeps running up to the patio door looking anxious, then bolts running in circles barking his head off.

So I head out back to see what the problem is. As soon as I open my patio door, I hear my cat meowing like it is in destress.

Apparently, my cat who likes to sit on the fence post and watch the wildlife, must have fallen off into my neighbor’s yard. And now he can’t get back (no post to climb).

I then go over to my neighbor’s and knock on the door to get my dumb cat back. “Shit! No answer”. So I head over to the side of the house. “Is their gate open?”… “Thank god! It is!”.

I managed to get my cat back but I feel a little weird going into my neighbors fenced back yard sans permission.

Would you have done the same?

Yup, “exigent circumstances” and whatnot. Securing the cat so he doesn’t panic and get into more trouble is of greater importance than the transitory violation of the property boundary. I’ve done similar things when the neighbor’s dog got out when she wasn’t home, I captured the critter, put him back in the yard and checked to make sure there were no other ways for him to get out. I’ve also gone into a neighbor’s yard to shut off a hose that had sprung a leak and was looking like it might cause some damage if left to run. I do tell the neighbor what happened and why I went into their yard though. That’s just polite.

Were there No Trespassing signs posted on the property?

I would have done the same. And if my neighbor had come into my backyard to rescue his pet I’d be totally cool with that.

I would argue it’s not trespassing unless you have reason to believe your neighbor would not allow you there. And if your neighbor wouldn’t allow it in this sort of situation, then they deserve to be ignored.

I may not be friends with my neighbors, but we are all civil. They’ve been in my yard getting their pets or blown away items. And I’ve done the same.

I have, and I would again.

During the process of cat-proofing the fences, so that they can’t leave the yard, our Ophelia was kind enough to find the weak spots in my system. It took three escapes before the fencing was perfected. Each time she escaped, she went to the neighbor’s yard and just sat there until we came to get her. I think her only goal was to be like “nyah nyah, I got out of the yard!”

The first time was late at night, but the kid who lived there was out front sitting in his car with a friend, so I asked him to let me in his yard. The second two times, no one was home, so I hopped the fence and retrieved Miss Ophelia.

Does that matter legally in most jurisdictions?

Yes it does matter. I don’t know how much it matters in this case. I think it unlikely there were such signs if the OP didn’t mention them and as a result I don’t think it’s a criminal or even civil matter unless the OP damaged his neighbors property.

I would have done what the OP did. After all, the neighbor left the gate open (aren’t gates always open when you enter them without permission?).


And when my neighbors had a puppy who tended to escape, they regularly followed it into my yard, caught it, and took it home. The first time it happened, they apologized profusely, but i assured them it was fine with me.

I, too, would apologize if they noticed.

I know all my neighbors, and while i don’t generally walk into their yard except to visit them, they all recognize me. I’ve always made a point of meeting the neighbors. Even if you don’t become friends and hang out, it’s good to know each other.

And, tangential question, why do No Trespassing signs so often include the word “Posted”? Is a posted sign not legally considered posted unless it has the word “Posted” on it?

I’ve often thought about this too, and I believe it’s legalese, maybe spurious or silly, like signing a letter with “Signed, [your name].” Various laws require no-trespassing signs to be posted, whatever that may mean, so adding the word itself may make sure they’re well and truly Posted, no denying it, you can’t pretend the sign wasn’t Posted when you’re caught trespassing.

I would have done the same thing. It’s “easier to beg for forgiveness than ask permission”.

I provided a link with the requirements for each state. Only Oklahoma specifies the word “Posted” and doesn’t require it. I think it’s like putting “Police take notice” on a no trespassing sign, it helps clarify the intention but may have no specific legal meaning. The link with the specific requirements was the short answer.

Oh yeah get your pet asap!

When Darmah the black cat went missing in ‘89 it had been 2 freezing nights outside for her, a southern transplant to the north.

There she was, I spotted her on my way to work, stranded on the porch roof of a house down the block. She was stuck.

No one was home and of course the cat must come off the roof!

I took a ladder down there, grabbed the cat who didn’t want to be coaxed or put back indoors the ungrateful beast and got to work 1/2 hr late.

Your link is really interesting in that it shows many of the states have some very, very specific requirements for the signs to “count” – letters yay big or bigger, specific phrases, no less than this many feet off the ground, “reasonably likely to come to the attention of intruders,” etc. Using the word “posted” is not a requirement in any state but since it appears in nearly every state’s description of what a no trespassing sign is, the word itself seems to have acquired almost talismanic power.


If you are in the business of making No Trespassing signs you’ll continue re-enforcing the notion because you don’t want to lose any customers who believe it is necessary. By observation alone one would assume it was an official requirement because it is seen so commonly with rare exception.

“Good Fences Make Good Neighbors”, so if that fence was good enough to keep a cat on one side, I’d say you guys are Great Neighbors! Shouldn’t be a problem.

Not exactly the same situation, but I was considering “trespassing” (more like breaking in and entering) to retrieve my cat that a very unfriendly elderly couple next door had stolen from me. I did not know them, nor ever had any conversations with them…they kept to themselves.

My cat had been missing for a few days, and I was frantic looking all over the neighborhood. But then my upstairs neighbors told me they saw her in the elderly couple’s house. I knocked on their door to get her back, but they refused. That was when I was trying to consider my options, but morally I just couldn’t bring myself to break into their house. I had to involve the police, and the couple told them that she was their cat. I had proof she was mine, and I got her back.

If my cat was just in their yard, I’d have no problem going over there to retrieve her, but breaking in and entering is where I draw the line. :wink:

If the neighbors have cameras, I’d make a “JUST GETTING MY CAT” sign for the video in case they called the cops.

& I always thought this was a catnapping.