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October News

 

   Orangutan who was deemed a non-human person by Argentinian court to be moved to sanctuary in Florida. In 2015, “Sandra,” who had lived at the Buenos Aires Zoo for over 20 years, made legal history by becoming the first orangutan deemed “a non-human person, subject of rights and consequent obligations towards her by humans.” As part of its decision, the court also ruled that the Buenos Aires government had to guarantee Sandra adequate conditions of her habitat and the activities necessary to preserve her cognitive abilities. However, Sandra languished at the zoo for another five years, even though the zoo closed in 2016 due to allegations of animal cruelty. According to recent news reports, Sandra will be moving to the Center for Great Apes in Florida, said to be a sanctuary much better suited to her needs. The judge who wrote the landmark opinion granting personhood said Sandra will now spend her days “in a more dignified situation.” While the court’s opinion is in Spanish, you can read a detailed summary of this important case in English.

   Lights, camera, action! The Animal Legal & Historical Center would like to introduce our newest set of materials: animal law videos! Animal law can be complex because it covers so many areas of the law, from criminal law to torts to disability discrimination. By making these videos, we hope to provide another avenue for people to understand and learn about these diverse legal concepts. Check out our first two videos: State Dog Tethering Laws and Service, Assistance, and Therapy Animals.  Remember, you can always email us questions, ideas, and feedback at animallaw@law.msu.edu. 

   Alabama becomes the latest state to crack down on "fake" service animals. The state of Alabama will join 26 other states with laws that criminalize the fraudulent presentation of pets as service animals (two other states have related laws). The overall goal of these laws is to deter people from using their pets to gain access or receive benefits reserved for disabled individuals using trained service animals. As such, the penalty may be a relatively small fine or misdemeanor, depending on the state. Other states like Rhode Island and Montana have pending bills on fake service animals. See our Map of Fraudulent Service Animal Laws.

 

News archives

Cases

Testimony about dog's changed behavior was sufficient to establish corpus delicti in bestiality case allowing defendant's extrajudicial letters describing sexual abuse of dog to be entered into evidence. City of Cleveland v. Turner, --- N.E.3d ----, 2019 WL 3974089 (Ohio Ct. App., 2019). Defendant was convicted by bench trial of one count of sexual conduct with an animal (bestiality) in violation of R.C. 959.21(B). He was sentenced to 90 days in jail (with credit for time served), a $750 fine, with five years of inactive community control that included no contact with animals and random home inspections by the Animal Protection League (APL). The evidence supporting his conviction came from explicit letters defendant wrote to his boyfriend (who was incarcerated at the time) that described acts of bestiality. On appeal, defendant contends that the court erred by admitting his extrajudicial statements without independent evidence of a crime. The court noted that this was a case of first impression since there is no Ohio case law that has analyzed the corpus delicti issue in the context of R.C. 959.21. Relying on the Indiana case of Shinnock v. State, 76 N.E.3d 841 (Ind.2017), this court found that while there was no direct evidence of a crime against the dog, the circumstantial evidence corroborates defendant's statements in his letter. The finding of guilt for defendant's bestiality conviction was affirmed, but the condition of community control sanction regarding random home inspections was reversed and remanded.

Claim by plaintiff that pit bull type dogs are "inherently dangerous" and thus attack by such dog is foreseeable rejected by South Dakota Supreme Court. Ridley v. Sioux Empire Pit Bull Rescue, Inc., 932 N.W.2d 576 (S.D., 2019). Plaintiff Ridley was walking at a campground where she was attacked and injured by a pit bull type dog belonging to Sioux Empire Pit Bull Rescue, Inc. (SEPR) and in the care of Susan Tribble-Zacher and Harry Podhradsky. At the time, the dog was tethered to a tree near the Zacher and Podhradsky campsite. The lower court granted both Zacher's and Podhradsky's motions for summary judgment, which Ridley appeals in this instant case. On appeal, Ridley claims the trial court erred by incorrectly weighing the evidence by viewing the facts in a light most favorable to SEPR instead of plaintiff. The court rejected Ridley's argument that pit bull type dogs have inherently dangerous breed tendencies and, as a result, the attack was foreseeable and the keepers should be held to a higher standard of care. The court noted that South Dakota law does not support any "breed-specific standard of care," and that every dog is presumed tame so that the burden is on a plaintiff to prove otherwise. The motions for summary judgment were affirmed.

Health department employee who advised plaintiff of high cost of rabies shots did not engage in "financial coercion" that amounted to extreme and outrageous conduct that forced plaintiff to cut off his own dog's head. Goodwin v. Crawford Cty., Georgia,  Slip Copy, 2019 WL 2569626 (M.D. Ga. June 21, 2019). This is a motion to dismiss by Defendant Sims in a § 1983 action and state law claims by plaintiff Goodwin against several Crawford County, Georgia officials. The case started with the shooting of plaintiff's dog, allegedly by Defendant Crawford County Officer Neesmith. After the dog was shot in plaintiff's driveway, Neesmith then called Defendant Sims, who was an employee of the Crawford County Health Department. Sims explained to Neesmith by phone that Plaintiff Goodwin could be liable for the cost of a rabies shot if the dog's head was not removed and that the cost of the shot was approximately $20,000. After this call, officers ordered plaintiff to cut off his own dog's head to be tested for rabies or face criminal charges and the cost of the rabies shot. In the presence of plaintiff's wife and children, the plaintiff relented and cut off the dog's head with a knife. As to only Defendant Sims' motion to dismiss, this court found that her economic coercion was not arbitrary and thus did not violate plaintiff's substantive due process rights. Sims' alleged use of "financial pressure" did not amount to extreme and outrageous conduct for plaintiff's intentional infliction of emotional distress claim. Instead, the court said "she did her job," which was to communicate the rabies control procedures and did not actually require plaintiff to personally decapitate his dog. Accordingly, the Court granted Sims' Motion to Dismiss. 

Case Archives

Articles

When Fido is Family: How Landlord-Imposed Pet Bans Restrict Access to Housing, Kate O'Reilly-Jones, 52 Colum. J.L. & Soc. Probs. 427 (Spring, 2019).

Does Every Dog Really Have Its Day?: A Closer Look at the Inequity of Iowa's Breed-Specific Legislation, Olivia Slater, 66 Drake L. Rev. 975 (2018).

When Cheaters Prosper: A Look at Abusive Horse Industry Practices on the Horse Show CircuitKjirsten SneedKentucky Journal of Equine, Agriculture, & Natural Resources Law: Vol. 6 : Iss. 2 , Article 3 (2014).

Survey of Damages Measures Recognized in Negligence Cases Involving Animals, Alison M. Rowe, Kentucky Journal of Equine, Agriculture, & Natural Resources Law: Vol. 5 : Iss. 2 , Article 5 (2013).

Animal Consortium,  David S. Favre and Thomas Dickinson, 84 Tenn. L. Rev. 893 (2017).