Yes. At common law, this is known as an “agister’s lien.” An agister is a person who cares for livestock: i.e., feeding, herding, pasturing, keeping, ranching, or boarding livestock or providing for the medical care of livestock.
If I own livestock and I provide food, water, medical care, and any other needs for the livestock, I am an agister. If I care for my neighbor’s livestock in the same manner, I am an agister of my neighbor’s livestock. If my neighbor fails to pay me for the care I provided for his livestock, I can place a lien on his livestock and refuse to return them to him until the bills are paid.
Some states have this lien “codified”, or, in laymen’s terms: written into law. In New Jersey, they have what is known as “the horseman’s lien.” That is a law that specifically allows someone who cares for and/or boards a horse to put a lien on the horse when the horse’s owner fails to pay for the services provided to his/her horse.
If the livestock owner sells his livestock to another person, the lien I placed on the livestock attaches to the proceeds from the sale. This is similar to if you sell your house: if your house has a mortgage on it, then when you sell your house, the bank gets paid first for the remaining balance of the mortgage and then you get whatever is left over. It works the same way with livestock: the lien attaches to the livestock and if there is a sale, the proceeds will first go to pay the agister and then the remaining proceeds will go to the livestock owner.
In short, it is really hard to escape an agister’s lien if it is properly applied for and registered with the courts. It is also not very straight forward to apply for and properly register a lien with the courts!
If you are an agister, or if your animals have a lien on them, I strongly recommend contacting an experienced animal attorney today to make sure the lien was done correctly and justice is properly served. Call us today for a free 30 minute consultation to go over your situation.