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June News

 

  Indiana Governor Eric Holcomb signs House Enrolled Act 1447 banning practice of "rent-to-own" agreements for cats and dogs. The prohibition is an amendment to IC 24-7-1-5 contained under Article 7 on Rental Purchase Agreements and is part of an 87-page piece of legislation on financial institutions. Consumer and animal advocates against these types of agreements call them "predatory" due to the high fees and overall higher sticker price for the pet. Ethical issues have been raised since the financing company retains ownership of the pet until the payments are met, which could implicate medical decisions for the pet and could allow the pet to be displaced from its home if the purchaser defaults. A few other states previously enacted such laws including California, Nevada, and New York. Other states like Florida, Texas, Virginia, and Washington are considering such bills. Indiana's law goes into effect on July 1st.

  Did you know five states still have active tracks for dog racing? Florida voters made big news last year by banning dog racing through “Amendment 13,” effective December 31, 2020. Dog/greyhound racing, which has been around for centuries, is a form of gambling where betters place wagers on dogs who race around an enclosed track chasing a mechanized device that simulates a prey animal. The five states with active tracks include Alabama, Arkansas, Iowa, Texas and West Virginia, and there are four other states with no active racetracks, but still with laws legalizing greyhound racing on their books. Concerns over the care of greyhound dogs used in racing has come to light in past decades, including overbreeding of dogs, the humane treatment of the dogs (who spend most hours housed in kennels), and the disposition of the animals who are done racing. To learn much more about this historic and controversial practice, read our new Overview of Dog Racing.

  Florida bill allowing veterinarians to report suspected animal abuse awaits Gov. DeSantis' signature or veto. News station WTSP reports a provision in HB7125 (a multi-issue, 296-page criminal justice bill) that "would allow vets to report suspected criminal violations, like animal abuse, to authorities as long as the animal doesn’t live on agricultural land.” Language under the state's primary anti-cruelty law (Sec. 828.12) is vague and only holds licensed veterinarians "harmless from either criminal or civil liability for any decisions made or services rendered under the provisions of this section” and that “[s]uch a veterinarian is, therefore, under this subsection, immune from a lawsuit for his or her part in an investigation of cruelty to animals." However, the WTSP article states that current state law actually prohibits a vet from discussing a patient's condition absent a subpoena and notice to the owner, and then penalizes vets who share unauthorized records with disciplinary action. Supporters contend HB 7125 would provide a “reasonable step” toward eliminating ambiguity on reporting under current law. Most states either allow or even mandate reporting of suspected cruelty or neglect by veterinarians. See our Map of Veterinary Reporting Laws.

 

News archives

Cases

While a city is not exempt from nondiscrimination requirements of FHA, plaintiff must still meet burden that particular assistance animal accommodation is reasonable and necessary. Wilkison v. City of Arapahoe, 926 N.W.2d 441 (Neb.,2019). Brooke Wilkison (Brooke) got an American Staffordshire Terrier (pit bull) in 2015. In 2016, the city of Arapahoe passed an ordinance regarding dangerous dogs which contained a restriction on owning a Rottweiler or an American Staffordshire Terrier within city limits. The ordinance allowed for dogs licensed prior to January 1, 2017 to be grandfathered in as acceptable. Brooke did not have his dog licensed prior to the that date. After law enforcement told Brooke he could not keep the dog, he filed suit seeking a declaratory judgment and an injunction to prevent Arapahoe from implementing and enforcing the ordinance. The trial court found for Brooke and Arapahoe appealed. On appeal, this Court found that Arapahoe was not exempt from the strictures of the FHA. However, the Court found that Brooke failed to meet his burden of proof that his requested accommodation is necessary for him to receive the same enjoyment from his home as a non-disabled person would receive. Brooke already owned another dog and the ordinance only covered certain dog breeds. Brooke's other claims for relief were remanded to the district court.

NY state court gives legal deference to 2013 HUD guidance on assistance animals under FHA in finding that plaintiff's emotional support dogs was "necessary" for equal opportunity to use and enjoy dwelling. Hollendale Apartments & Health Club, LLC v. Bonesteel, --- N.Y.S.3d ---- , 2019 WL 2031263 (N.Y. App. Div., 2019). Plaintiff filed an action seeking a judgment declaring that the Plaintiff's refusal to permit the Defendant to have an emotional support dog was not in violation of the Fair Housing Act (FHA) and the Human Rights Law (HRL). The Plaintiff subsequently reduced the Defendant's lease renewal term to three months. The Defendant filed counterclaims on grounds of discrimination. The Supreme Court of New York also granted a motion allowing the Attorney General to intervene. The Attorney General asserted counterclaims on similar grounds to those raised by the Defendant. After a nonjury trial, the trial court issued a judgment that the Plaintiff's actions did not violate the FHA and the HRL. The Defendant then appealed. On appeal, the Court dismissed the Plaintiff's declaratory judgment. The Court then considered the Defendant's counterclaims since concrete injuries were alleged. The only two arguments addressed were whether the Defendant actually had a qualifying disability within the meaning of the FHA and the HRL and whether the accommodation requested was necessary to afford the Defendant an equal opportunity to use and enjoy his dwelling. The Court concluded that the Defendant met his burden to establish that he is disabled within the meaning of the FHA and HRL. The Court also found that the Defendant "offered sufficient evidence that having an emotional support dog would affirmatively enhance his quality of life by ameliorating the effects of his disability, and thus demonstrated necessity within the meaning of the FHA and the HRL." Lastly, the Court found that the Plaintiff retaliated against the Defendant by reducing his lease renewal terms to three months. Accordingly, Defendant was entitled to judgment in his favor on the retaliation counterclaims.

Evidence sufficient for animal cruelty conviction where lack of food and water was seen before, during, and after defendant's absence due to hospitalization and expert testified that it "typically takes some time" for a dog to become underweight. State v. Schuler, --- N.E.3d ----, 2019 WL 1894482 (Ohio Ct. App., 2019). Appellant appeals his animal cruelty convictions. A deputy dog warden received a report from a deputy sheriff who observed a pit bull on appellant's property who was unable to walk and in poor condition while responding to a noise complaint. The deputy later returned to the appellant's home a few days later and found two Australian cattle dogs who were very muddy and in an outdoor kennel with no food or water. Numerous chickens, rabbits, mice, snakes, and raccoons were also observed inside and outside the house all living in cramped, filthy conditions. The deputy went to the hospital where appellant was and appellant signed a waiver releasing the raccoons and snakes to the wildlife officer, but the appellant refused to release the other animals to the deputy. Ultimately, Appellant was charged by complaints with five counts of cruelty to animals and two counts of cruelty to companion animals. An additional complaint was filed charging appellant with one count of cruelty to a companion animal (the euthanized pit bull). The appellant raised three errors on appeal. On the first error that the court lacked subject-matter jurisdiction to convict him of animal cruelty, the Court agreed with respect to several counts and vacated those convictions. The Court overruled appellant's second error because it found that the state had presented sufficient evidence to show that the appellant negligently failed to provide adequate food and water for the Australian cattle dogs. Appellant raised a third issue with the Court ordering him to pay $831 in restitution. The Court also overruled this error since the appellant stipulated to paying the restitution. The judgment of the trial court was affirmed in all other respects.

Case Archives

Articles

An Analysis of Favre’s Theory on the Legal Status of Animals: Towards a Reconsideration of the “Person-Property Dichotomy," Akimune Yoshida, The Hitotsubashi Journal of Law and International Studies (2019) (article in Japanese, abstract in English).

Never Enough: Animal Hoarding Law, Courtney G. Lee, 47 U. Balt. L. Rev. 23 (2017).

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

The Animal Welfare Act at Fifty: Problems and Possibilities in Animal Testing Regulation, Courtney G. Lee, 95 Neb. L. Rev. 194-247 (2016).

From Inside the Cage to Outside the Box: Natural Resources as a Platform for Nonhuman Animal Personhood in the U.S. and Australia, Randall S. Abate & Jonathan Crowe, 5 Global J. Animal L. 54 (2017).

Zuchtvieh-Export Gmbh v. Stadt Kempten: The Tension Between Uniform, Cross-Border Regulation and Territorial Sovereignty, David Mahoney, 40 B.C. Int'l & Comp. L. Rev. 363 (2017).