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March News

 

  Kentucky senate bill addresses roadblock that prevents veterinarians in state from reporting animal cruelty. Did you know Kentucky is the only state that restricts veterinarians from reporting suspected animal cruelty unless there is a court order? That may be about to change after SB 21 unanimously passed the KY Senate. Most states have laws that allow veterinarians to report cruelty and give veterinarians who report such conduct, in good faith, immunity from civil liability. In addition, some 17 states have laws that MANDATE that veterinarians report certain types of suspected cruelty. Curious whether your state allows or even mandates that veterinarians report cruelty? Check out our Map!

   On January 1st, Oregon’s “beagle freedom” law (S.B. 638) became effective, joining eleven other states with such laws. These laws mandate that research facilities that use dogs (and sometimes cats) for laboratory research must offer animals deemed medically suitable for adoption instead of simply euthanizing them. The majority of states limit these laws to institutes of higher education that receive public funds except for Nevada that extends its law to private product testing facilities. Oregon’s new law defines “research facility” as “any institution of higher education or any facility, whether privately or publicly owned, leased or operated, where laboratory research is performed.” Under these laws, the research facilities may enter into agreements with animal rescue or humane agencies to take the suitable animals and adopt them to the public.

   Maine joins Connecticut with law allowing appointment of legal advocates to help animal victims in cruelty cases; will Illinois be the next state? In 2016, Connecticut broke legal ground with "Desmond's Law" that allows appointment of animal advocates in cruelty cases to represent the interests of animal victims. According to the University of Connecticut, animal advocates have been appointed in 70 animal abuse cases. Recently, Maine enacted "Franky's Law" that does the same in that state. In 2019, Illinois State Rep. Allen Skillicorn proposed HB 1631, which would allow the court, in a prosecution involving the injury, health, or safety of a cat or dog, to appoint a special advocate to "represent the interests of justice regarding the health or safety of the cat or dog." In all of these states, the legislation states that attorneys or law students who act in such capacities are volunteers. According to a WGEM news story, the Illinois bill has bipartisan support. 

News archives

Cases

Maryland's “No More Puppy-Mill Pups Act” withstands constitutional challenge from dog sellers. Just Puppies, Inc. v. Frosh, --- F.Supp.3d ----, 2020 WL 607026 (D. Md. Feb. 7, 2020). The State of Maryland passed a “No More Puppy-Mill Pups Act” which went into effect January 1, 2020. The Act prohibits retail pet stores in Maryland from offering for sale or otherwise transferring or disposing of cats or dogs. Four pet stores, a dog breeder, and a dog broker filed suit against Brian Frosh, the Attorney General of Maryland, the Consumer Protection Division of the Office  of the Maryland Attorney General (CPD), the Maryland House Economic Matters Committee, and the Maryland State Senate Finance Committee seeking an injunction prohibiting enforcement of the Act as well as a declaration that it is unconstitutional under the Commerce Clause and the Equal Protection Clause. The Court found that the Plaintiffs failed to plausibly allege that the Act discriminated against out-of-state breeders and brokers in its text, in its effect, or in its purpose. In addition, prohibiting Maryland pet stores from selling dogs or cats had no effect on the operation of the AWA. Although the Act prohibited brick and mortar stores from participating in the sale of cats and dogs, consumers still had a plethora of choices when seeking to obtain a pet, including rescue shelters, animal control units, USDA licensed breeders and brokers, and unregulated hobby breeders. The Court ultimately dismissed all claims against the CPD and the Committee Defendants and allowed the claims against Brian Frosh to proceed.

Court finds evidence of feeding and veterinary care sufficient to support ownership necessary for a Sec. 1983 claim against animal rescue teams that seized criminal defendant's 42 cats. Madero v. Luffey, --- F.Supp.3d ----, 2020 WL 733766 (W.D. Pa. Feb. 13, 2020). Ronald Madero allegedly took care of abandoned cats in his neighborhood by giving them food, shelter, and occasional medical care. After a neighbor contacted Animal Care and Control (ACC) and complained about abandoned kittens, a search warrant was ultimately executed and a total of 42 cats were seized. Madero asserts that, after the cats were seized, they were left for hours on the hot concrete and were not provided with veterinary care for several weeks. Madero was charged with 5 counts of misdemeanor cruelty to animals and 37 summary counts of cruelty to animals. He pled nolo contendere to 20 counts of disorderly conduct and was sentenced to 90 days of probation for each count with all twenty sentences to run consecutively. Subsequently, Madero filed a complaint asserting various causes of action under 42 U.S.C. 1983 and state law alleging illegal search and wrongful seizure of the cats against Officer Luffey, Homeless Cat Management Team (“HCMT”), Provident, and Humane Animal Rescue (“HAR”). The defendants each filed Motions to Dismiss. Madero pled that the cats were abandoned or stray cats; however, he also pled that the cats were his property and evidenced this by pleading that he fed the cats and provided shelter as well as veterinary care. The Court found that Madero pled sufficient facts to support ownership of the cats to afford him the standing to maintain his claims under section 1983 and common law. Despite this, all claims were dismissed except for Madero’s claim against HCMT for conspiracy.

Court rejects arguments that defendant did not act knowingly and that animal cruelty law captured “innocent conduct” after defendant chained dog outside in 15-degree weather on more than one occasion. People v. Collier, --- N.E.3d ----, 2020 IL App (1st) 162519. Chicago police officers, while investigating reports of animal abuse, visited Samuel Collier’s place of residence and observed a dog chained up outside in 15-degree weather. On a second visit, the same dog was observed chained up outside in the cold. The dog happened to match the description of a dog that had been reported stolen in the neighborhood. The house had feces everywhere with no running water or heat. A total of four dogs were found that were kept in rooms without food or water. One of the dogs found was a bulldog that had been stolen from someone’s backyard. Collier was subsequently arrested. Collier was found guilty of one count of theft and four counts of cruel treatment of animals. Collier subsequently appealed. Collier argued that there was insufficient evidence to prove his guilt at trial because despite the photographs of his house the dogs were found to be in good health. The Court held that the poor conditions in which the dogs were kept along with the condition of the dogs and the premises were sufficient. Collier also argued that the animal cruelty statute violated due process because it was unconstitutionally vague and potentially criminalized innocent conduct. The Court, however, stated that the statute did not capture innocent conduct, instead, it captured conduct that can be defined as cruel or abusive. The Court ultimately affirmed the judgment of the trial court.

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).