Colorado enables a person boarding horses or other livestock belonging to another person to file a lien for the cost of that care. It is known as an “agistor lien,” detailed at CRS 38-20-201-120 (“Agistor’s Lien Act”). An “agistor” is "any rancher, farmer, feeder, herder of cattle, livery stable keeper, veterinarian, or other person to whom livestock are entrusted by the owner for feeding, herding, pasturing, keeping, ranching, or boarding, or providing medical care." CRS 38-30-202(3).
According to the statute (at subsection -203):
(1) An agistor shall have a lien upon the livestock entrusted to its care for any amount that may be due for feeding, herding, pasturing, keeping, ranching, or boarding such livestock, for medical care provided to such livestock, and for all costs incurred in enforcing such lien, including attorney fees. The provisions of this section shall not apply to stolen livestock.
(2) An agistor's lien shall be effective for the entire period during which the livestock are held by the agistor, and if the livestock referenced in subsection (1) of this section are sold, exchanged, or otherwise disposed of from the premises of the lienor by anyone other than the lienor acting on his or her own behalf or the lienor's agent, the lien created by this section shall continue and shall attach to the proceeds received or receivable from such disposition. To the extent an agistor's lien remains effective, such lien shall be superior to all other liens.
As with most liens, agistor liens are more complicated than they sound, limited in their applicability and effect, and frustrating to enforce. For example, for the lien to apply, the animal must belong to a person other than the agistor, there must be an underlying agreement to pay for the care, the person asserting the lien must have possession of the animal, and other factors. If filing the lien does not result in payment within a certain time, a court may order the sale of the animal to satisfy the lien amount. Other timing issues and limitations apply.
If there is a dispute over who actually owns the animal, a more general lawsuit likely will be required to determine ownership and enforce available remedies. Contact Sanderson Law, P.C., for help.