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January News


  The Missouri Legislature considers animal abuse registry legislation. HB 44 was introduced in the Missouri House of Representatives in early December by Rep. Ingrid Burnett, D-Kansas City. The bill, known as the "Missouri Animal Abuser Registration Act," states that the Missouri state highway patrol shall post a publicly accessible list on its website of any person convicted of an animal abuse that includes the booking photo, full legal name, and other data to properly identify the person and exclude innocent persons. The names are maintained on the list for two years provided the listed persons are not convicted of subsequent animal abuse offenses. The bill also increases the penalty for first-time animal abuse convictions from a class A misdemeanor to a class E felony. This is not the first time the Missouri General Assembly has considered such legislation as a similar measure was introduced in 2016. Currently, Tennessee is the only state with a statewide animal abuse registry, with 15 individuals currently on the registry. One advocacy organization, the National Anti-Vivisection Society or NAVS, has compiled information on past legislation addressing animal abuse registries and links to local registry laws.

   Russia enacts new animal welfare law. The Law on Responsible Treatment of Animals, signed by Vladimir Putin in December of 2018, prohibits the killing of animals “under any pretext.” The law also outlaws shooting or poisoning stray dogs and cats, which has occurred in Russian cities in recent years according to news sources. Under the law, owners must keep their pets in proper conditions and homeless animals must be taken-up, vaccinated, sterilized, and then released by local agencies. One of the primary purposes of the laws is to ban petting zoos at malls and the practice of bars and restaurants hosting animals. The conducting of animal fights is also banned under the new law.

  Hawaii's new service dog fraud law effective January 1, 2019. Hawaii's law makes it unlawful to misrepresent a pet as a service animal with a potential fine of not less than $100 and not more than $250 for the first violation, and not less than $500 for a second violation and each violation thereafter. According to KITV and the Hawaii Tribune-Herald, state Senator Russell Ruderman of Puna analogizes it to a "littering law" because it is unclear how and when enforcement may occur. In recent years, many other states have enacted such laws. To date, almost half of all states have adopted these service dog fraud laws. To see these states, visit our updated Map of Laws.


News archives


Warrantless entry onto property not justified where prosecution failed to establish evidence that animals were in "imminent danger." People v. Panetta, --- N.Y.S.3d ----, 2018 WL 6627442, 2018 N.Y. Slip Op. 28404 (N.Y. App. Term. Dec. 13, 2018). Defendant was convicted of animal cruelty, inadequate shelter, and failing to seek veterinary care for her numerous dogs. Following inspections about a month after a warrantless entry, inspectors found dogs suffering from broken bones and other injuries (including one dog with "a large tumor hanging from its mammary gland area") were seized and subsequently euthanized. As a result, defendant was arrested and charged with 11 violations of Agriculture and Markets Law § 353 and local code violations. Defendant then moved to suppress the physical evidence and statements taken during the initial warrantless entry onto her property and the evidence obtained after that during the execution of subsequent search warrants, arguing that the initial warrantless entry tainted the evidence thereafter. Relying on previous holdings that allow the emergency exception in cases where animals are in imminent danger of health or need of protection, this court found that the prosecution failed to establish the applicability of the emergency doctrine. In particular, the court was troubled by the fact that, on the first visit, the officers crossed a chain fence that was posted with a no trespassing sign (although they testified they did not see the sign). While in hindsight there was an emergency with respect to the dogs, the court "cannot retroactively apply subsequently obtained facts to justify the officers' initial entry onto defendant's property." As a result, the court remitted the matter to the City Court for a determination of whether the seizures of evidence after the initial illegal entry occurred under facts that were sufficiently distinguishable from the illegal entry so to have purged the original taint.

Exigent circumstances exception to warrant requirement for feared medical emergency and plain view exception exist until officers determine animal is dead in animal cruelty case. State v. Archer, --- So.3d ---- 2018 WL 6579053 (Fla. Dist. Ct. App. Dec. 14, 2018). In 2017, police responded to defendant's residence after receiving a call about possible animal abuse. Upon arrival, Officer Bines heard dog commands and the sounds of "striking flesh." Bines told Archer that he was there to investigate a complaint of possible animal abuse to which Archer acknowledged that his dog bit him after he disciplined the dog for making a mess, so he "hit him a couple times." Ultimately, Bines followed Archer to the backyard where Archer pointed to a dog in the corner that had its tongue out and was bloodied. Shortly thereafter, Bines determined the dog was dead. After being charged with animal cruelty, Archer moved to suppress the evidence obtained from the warrantless entry of his home. The appellate court found the officer "had reasonable grounds to believe that there was an urgent and immediate need to check on the safety and well-being of the dog and to connect the feared emergency to the house that they entered." Once entry is allowed based on exigent circumstances, items found in plain view may be lawfully seized. The officer saw the dog in the corner before he knew the dog was dead, so the exigency still existed. Re-entry into Archer's house to take photos after Archer was in the police car was a continuation of photographing evidence that was already found in plain view while the exigency existed (e.g., before the officers knew the dog was dead). The motion to suppress was affirmed in part and reversed in part.

Declaratory relief not appropriate where letters from county about possible consequences of keeping dangerous dog only created speculative fear and not bona fide dispute/justiciable controversy. Strickland v. Pinellas Cty., --- So.3d ----, 2018 WL 6518761 (Fla. Dist.Ct. App. Dec. 12, 2018). Strickland appealed an order dismissing with prejudice his complaint for declaratory relief against Pinellas County. The request stems from letters he received from Animal Services of Pinellas County about his dog. Strickland and a neighbor were involved in a dispute after their dogs attacked each other. The County sent two letters to Strickland, the first informing him that his dog had exhibited dangerous propensities, and the second, from an assistant county attorney, informing him of the possible criminal ramifications for keeping a dangerous dog or being an "Irresponsible Pet Owner" under the county code. As a result of these letters, Strickland filed a complaint in circuit court saying that he was not afforded any opportunity to dispute those claims and that he is entitled to have the threat of criminal prosecution removed. The County moved to dismiss Strickland's complaint arguing that he failed to allege a justiciable controversy and a bona fide dispute between the County and him. The trial court agreed and granted the County's motion, finding the letters were not accusatory and the case presented no justiciable issue. On appeal here, this court upheld the lower court's order because a speculative fear by Strickland that he may be subject to future consequences does not warrant declaratory relief and does not show imminent danger of prosecution. Affirmed.

Case Archives


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).