Cases

  • Defendant appeals his conviction of harboring a dangerous dog.  The Court affirmed, holding that there was sufficient evidence supporting the conviction, and also holding that serious injuries are not a prerequisite for convicting a defendant for harboring a dangerous animal.

  • David Bishop was convicted of animal cruelty and failing to provide a sanitary environment for his five dogs. He was ordered to pay over $60,000 in order to provide for the medical expenses that his dogs needed after they were taken away from him. While defendant argued that the amount of restitution was excessive, the court found that each of the five dogs had medical bills in excess of $10,000. Defendant was sentenced to three months in a house of corrections, and ten years probation.

  • The defendant was convicted of cruelty to animals for the use of acid on some horses' feet.  The defendant appealed the descision because the lower court had found the Commonwealth's circumstantial evidence to be enough to submit the question of quilt to the jury.  The Superior Court found that some of the evidence was improperly admitted by the lower court.  Thus, the Superior Court reversed the judgement.

  • The issue before the Court in this consolidated appeal was whether the trial court properly determined that 18 Pa.C.S. § 5511(h.1)(6), which criminalizes an individual's attendance at an animal fight "as a spectator," is unconstitutionally vague and overbroad.  Specifically, appellees contended that the statute criminalized "mere presence" at a dog fight.  The Supreme Court disagreed, finding the evidence showed appellees were active spectators at the fight (as seen in the videotape evidence).  The court concluded that the statute is constitutionally sound, thereby reversing the lower court's decision that the statute imposed strict liability on mere presence.

  • Defendants who were charged with cruelty to animals and criminal conspiracy for their attendance at a dogfight as spectators challenged the constitutionality of the dogfighting statute. The trial court found that the statute was unconstitutionally vague and overbroad. The Supreme Court of Pennsylvania held that since the statute only creates criminal liability for a person's conscious decision to attend a dogfight, it is not unconstitutionally vague or overbroad.

  • In this Pennsylvania case, a cat owner challenged a local ordinance that limited the number of cats she could own at her residence (she owned 25 cats that were rescued "mousers" from factories; the ordinance limited ownership to 5).  The court noted that the preamble to the ordinance stated that pursuant to the Borough Code and "in the interest of preserving the public health, safety and general welfare of the residents ... [the Borough] desires to limit the number of dogs and cats kept by any one person and/or residence," but did not state what legitimate public health, safety and welfare goals the Borough sought to advance by enacting this ordinance.  Thus, from the information before the court, it could not say whether the Borough ordinance here was a reasonable means to effectuate a legitimate governmental goal.  

  • *747 This case presents the question whether the emergency aid exception to the warrant requirement of the Fourth Amendment to the United States Constitution and art. 14 of the Massachusetts Declaration of Rights extends to police action undertaken to render emergency assistance to animals.1

  • Defendant appealed his conviction of arson for setting fire to a dwelling house, and wilfully and maliciously killing the animal of another person. The Appeals Court held that testimony that the cat belonged to the victim was sufficient to support a conviction of wilfully and maliciously killing the animal of another person.

  • In this Pennsylvania case, a new resident moved next door to a woman who had been operating a kennel for years.  He then complained to the borough council which then amended an ordinance such that the keeping of more than six dogs over six months of age was made a nuisance per se, illegal and a violation of the ordinance.  The court held that it did not believe that the borough council or the court had the power or the authority to determine that more than a certain number is a nuisance per se, and less than that number is a nuisance only upon proof of the same being a nuisance. "In other words, it is our opinion that the borough council, in the exercise of its police power may not unreasonably and arbitrarily prohibit things which were not nuisances at common law, and their declaration in an ordinance that a thing is a public nuisance does not make it so, if it is not a nuisance in fact . . ."

  • Appellant was convicted of cruelty to animals for cockfighting. On appeal, appellant claimed that the delegation of police power to animal welfare agents was unconstitutional. The court found that appellant was without standing to complain because he failed to show an injury. Appellant also argued that the animal fighting statute was preempted by a federal statute, 7 U.S.C.S. §   2156. The court disagreed. Finally, appellant asserted that §   5511 was unconstitutionally vague and overbroad. The court determined that appellant lacked standing to challenge the statute's overbreadth.
  • A woman was convicted of unlawful taking or possession of game or wildlife for owning a domesticated squirrel.  The Court of Appeals reversed the conviction  They reasoned since the squirrel was domesticated in South Carolina, and South Carolina does not have any prohibition against the taking and domestication of squirrels, the trial court could not rely on the Pennsylvania statute prohibiting such.

  • Kneller appealed from a conviction of criminal conspiracy to commit cruelty to animals after she gave an acquaintance a gun and asked him to shoot a dog. The Court affirmed the conviction, concluding that “The Animal Destruction Method Authorization Law” (ADMA) and the “Dog Law” are not ambiguous. In addition, the deadly weapon enhancement applies to an owner who is convicted of cruelty to animals and used a firearm to kill it.

  • Sheriffs removed Defendant's starving dog from his garage and took it to a shelter for hospitalization.  Following a conviction and sentencing for animal cruelty and an order of restitution payable to the shelter, Defendant appealed.  The Superior Court remanded for re-sentencing and vacated the order of restitution, holding that the shelter was not a victim of Defendant's actions, and that restitution is only payable to humans.

  • In this Pennsylvania case, defendant was prosecuted for killing a cat that belonged to his neighbor. The section under which he was prosecuted prohibited the killing of a 'domestic animal of another person.' However, a cat was not one of the animals defined as a ‘domestic animal’ by the Act. Using rules of statutory interpretation, the court found that the omission of 'cat' from the listed species of the penal code provision was intentional by the legislature, and thus the defendant's sentence was discharged.

  • A woman's four serval cats, two fennic foxes, three ringtailed lemurs, three kinkajous, and one wallaby were all seized pursuant to a search warrant.  The trial court granted the woman's motion for return of her property in part and denied in part, specifically allowing for the return of the kinkajous and lemurs.  The Court of Appeals remanded to determine whether the woman's possession of the animals was in violation of the federal AWA or state Game Code.   

  • The defendant was convicted of causing his dog to be bitten, mangled and cruelly tortured by another dog.  The defendant appealled and the Supreme Court affirmed.

  • Defendant released a fox from his possession and a number of other people then released various dogs, which pursued and killed the fox. Defendant was charged and brought to trial. Defendant moved to dismiss the charge on the basis that there was no such crime, which the trial court denied. Defendant also moved to dismiss for lack of evidence, which the trial court also denied. Defendant was convicted and he appealed. The court found that there was a statutory basis for the charge and that the word "animal" in Mass. Pub. Stat. ch. 207, § 53 encompassed wild animals in the custody of a man. The court denied the exceptions brought by defendant and affirmed the order of the trial court, which convicted defendant of willfully permitting a fox to be subjected to unnecessary suffering.

  • Dog owners mounted a constitutional challenge to a Los Angeles municipal ordinance that required all dogs and cats within the city to be sterilized. The Court of Appeal held that the ordinance did not violate the owners’ freedom of association rights, free speech rights. or equal protection rights. The court held that it was not unconstitutionally vague, was not outside of the city's police powers, did not vest unfettered discretion in city officials, did not constitute an unconstitutional prior restraint or an unconstitutional taking. Finally, the law did not violate individual liberties under the California Constitution.

  • This Wyoming case concerns the application of the sales provisions of the Uniform Commercial Code as adopted in Wyoming (ss 34-21-201 through 34-21-299.5, W.S.1977) to a sale of a registered Black Labrador retriever which was intended for competition in field trials. More specifically the question is whether the continued physical ability of this retriever, as a matter of law, was precluded from becoming part of the basis for the bargain of the parties. The court agreed with the district court in this instance that, as a matter of law, the expressions of the seller relative to the potential of this retriever were only expressions of opinion or commendation and not an express warranty.

  • In this case, many environmental advocacy groups petitioned the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service to designate critical habitat for a species, the Florida panther, which was listed as endangered under the Endangered Species Act (ESA) in 1967. The petition was denied. Claiming the agency's action was arbitrary and capricious under the Administrative Procedure Act, the groups filed a citizens suit under the ESA in district court. At district, the group's complaints were dismissed and the groups subsequently lost on appeal.

  • When two federal agencies authorized the Mudflow Vegetation Management Project, a conservation group sued the agencies for failing to adequately evaluate the project's effects on the Northern Spotted Owl's critical habitat, in violation of the Endangered Species Act. Upon appeal of the lower court's decision, the Ninth Circuit concluded that the conservation group's challenge to the district court's denial of a preliminary injunction was premised on a misunderstanding of regulatory terms, on an unsupported reading of a duty to consider cumulative effects under the Endangered Species Act,and on selected portions of the record taken out of context. The district court's decision was therefore affirmed.

  • Plaintiffs to this suit — organizations and individuals that support sustainable hunting of the Canadian Wood Bison — alleged that the Secretary of the Department of Interior violated several provisions of the ESA in his treatment of that species. Specifically, Plaintiffs contend that the Secretary failed to: (1) make a twelve-month finding as to the status of the Canadian Wood Bison upon petition and (2) process Plaintiffs’ applications to import bison hunting trophies. In granting the Defendant's motion to dismiss, the court found that Plaintiffs’ intent to sue letter did not specify to the Secretary that they intended to challenge his subsequent failure to issue a twelve-month finding. Since Plaintiffs gave the Secretary inadequate opportunity to review his actions and take corrective measures, the claim was dismissed. Plaintiffs — four individuals who each successfully hunted a Wood Bison in Canada — sought declaratory judgment against the Service under the ESA for failure to process their applications to import bison trophies. The court also held that the request for declaratory judgment was moot where Plaintiffs failed to demonstrate that they ever intended to again apply for import permits.

  • After waiting nine years for the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service (USFWS) to take action on a permit that would allow the Conservation Force and other individuals to import Canadian wood bison as hunting trophies, the Conservation Force brought a suit against the U.S. Department of Interior and the USFWS for violating the Endangered Species Act. However, once the complaint was filed, the USFWS denied the permit; after this action, the district court dismissed the Conservation Force’s case as moot. Plaintiffs then sought to recover attorney fees and costs, but were denied recovery by the district court. On appeal by Plaintiffs, the Court held that since the USFWS delay in processing the permit was not a non-discretionary, statutory duty, as required to recover attorney fees and costs, the appeals court affirmed the lower court’s decision.

  • Appellants’ claims that the US Fish and Wildlife Service’s violated the Endangered Species Act, the Administrative Procedure Act and due process rights in regards to the markhor goat were rendered moot due to subsequent agency action. The claim that the USFWS had an ongoing pattern and practice of neglecting to process permits was also dismissed dues to issues of ripeness and standing. The case was remanded to district court with instructions to dismiss for lack of jurisdiction and was vacated in regards to the portions of the district court's order raised in this appeal.

  • This case questions whether Arizona's 10% cap on nonresident hunting of bull elk throughout the state and of antlered deer north of the Colorado River substantially affects commerce such that the dormant Commerce Clause applies to the regulation.  The Court that Arizona's cap on nonresident hunting substantially affects and discriminates against interstate commerce and therefore is subject to strict scrutiny under the dormant Commerce Clause. The case was remanded to determine the extent of Arizona's legitimate interests in regulating hunting to conserve its population of game and maintain recreational opportunities for its citizens. 

  • A parrot flew away from its original owner, was found and adopted by the plaintiff, and subsequently seized by the ASPCA for return to the original owner. The finder-plaintiff brought an action of replevin to recover possession of the parrot. The court found that the bird found was the same as the one lost and it did not extinguish the original owner's right to possession by reverting to a wild state.

  • This appeal presents the question of whether animal control officers can lawfully enter a home, absent a warrant or consent, to seize and impound the homeowner's dog for violation of a leash law. The court held that that the Fourth Amendment precludes such conduct, where entry of home to seize dog was not justified by exigent circumstances.  Further, the statute and municipal ordinance permitting animal control officers to impound dog found on private property did not authorize seizure in violation of Fourth Amendment.

  • Alleging violations of the Endangered Species Act (ESA) and the Administrative Procedure Act (APA), plaintiffs sought to compel defendants to publish in the Federal Register proposed and final rules to remove the Washington, Oregon and California population of the marbled murrelet (a coastal bird) from the list of threatened species. Plaintiffs alleged that after defendants completed a five year review of the murrelet, defendants violated the ESA and the Administrative Procedure Act (APA) by failing to publish proposed and final rules "delisting" the murrelet. However, the court found that under the subsection upon which plaintiffs rely, the Secretary need publish a proposed regulation only after receiving a petition to add or remove species from the lists of threatened and endangered species and making certain findings. Because plaintiffs have not alleged or demonstrated that they filed a petition, they cannot establish that the Secretary has a duty to publish a proposed regulation. Thus, defendant's motion to dismiss was granted.

  • The issue here is whether FWS has an enforceable duty promptly to withdraw a threatened species from the protections of the ESA after a five-year agency review mandated by the Act found that the species does not fit into a protected population category. The species at issue here are murrelets-small, dove-sized birds that feed primarily on sea life and nest in coastal mature and old-growth forests. This Court concluded that Coos County has not alleged a failure to perform a nondiscretionary act or duty imposed by the ESA, whether premised on the petition process deadlines or on the agency's more general duty to act on its own determinations.
  • This case arises out of an incident at the Dadeland Mall, during which plaintiff had a confrontation with security personnel that ended with her arrest. The incident was precipitated by the presence of a small dog plaintiff was toting in a stroller while shopping with her mother and daughter. Plaintiff alleged discrimination in public accommodations under the ADA, and excessive force in violation of the Fourth Amendment under § 1983. Defendants moved for summary judgment.The District Court denied the motion in part and granted the motion in part, finding that an issue of material fact existed as to whether the dog was a service animal; that the patron was precluded from bringing negligence claim premised on intentional torts; that officer's use of force in arresting patron was de minimis; and that the right to be free from officer's application of force was not clearly established.
  • Pursuant to a warrant, the police seized all un-cared for animals owned by a reptile distributor.   The distributor was told he could appeal the seizure, but must prepay the costs of boarding and caring for the animals pending the appeal.  The trial court granted summary judgment in favor fo the county and the Court of Special Appeals reversed, holding the owner was not required by the county code to prepay the costs of care as a condition for an appeal.         

  • Plaintiff sued for mental suffering after she discovered a dead cat in the casket that was meant for her dead dog in an elaborate funeral for the dog.  In ruling that the plaintiff was entitled to damages beyond market value for this actionable tort, the court found that plaintiff Ms. Corso did suffer shock, mental anguish and despondency due to the wrongful destruction and loss of the dog's body.  The court specifically distinguished a pet from other sentimental inanimate objects as they are not capable of returning love and affection.

  • Despite an ordinance restricting the number of cats a person can own to three unless a permit was obtained, an officer decided not to enforce the ordinance against the appellant because she was helping with the feral-cat problem in the city and because “she was ... attempting to bring into compliance [her] animal rescue.” When the officer left his job, however, a neighbor complained and an investigation took place. The investigating officer noted everything in the house was covered in cat litter, there was no carpet in the home, and cat urine was on the living-room floor. The smell of cat urine and feces also sickened the officer to the point that he had to leave the house to get fresh air. The State filed a complaint alleging Appellant's violation of the ordinance. A jury found Appellant guilty of the offense as alleged in the complaint and assessed her punishment at $75 plus court costs. Appellant appealed from her conviction for violating a city ordinance regarding the number of animals that may be kept without a permit. In her first issue, the appellant asserted that her conviction violated the Privileges or Immunities Clause of the Fourteenth Amendment because the city “selectively enforced its purported ordinance that prohibits any person from having possession of more than three cats without a permit.” The court, however, found that there was no evidence before the trial court indicating that appellant was singled out for enforcement or that her selection for enforcement was based on anything other than a valid citizen complaint. In her second issue, the appellant argued that the evidence was insufficient to support her conviction. The court, however, found that the evidence was sufficient to support the jury's finding that the appellant was in violation of the ordinance. The lower court’s decision was therefore affirmed.
  • When owners of a "dangerous dog" attempted to enjoin such a classification, this court held the dangerous dog statute was unconstitutional.  Because dogs are subjects of property and ownership, the owner's deprivation of a dog entitles him to procedural due process.

  • The cases concerns personal injuries sustained by one of the plaintiffs (Lisa) while she and her husband were on a horseback riding tour on the Dahana Ranch on the Big Island of Hawai'i. Prior to taking the ride, they signed waivers. The Courbats do not dispute that they both signed the Ranch's waiver form; rather, they assert that the Ranch's practice of booking ride reservations through an activity company, receiving payment prior to the arrival of the guest, and then, upon the guest's arrival at the Ranch, requiring the guest to sign a liability waiver as a precondition to horseback riding is an unfair and deceptive business practice. The question whether a waiver requirement would be materially important in booking a horseback tour remains one for the trier of fact. Because a genuine issue of material fact, resolvable only by the trier of fact, remains in dispute, the grant of summary judgment on the claim was erroneous the court held.

  • USDA had suspended a kennel owner’s license for 90 days and imposed a fine on the owner for violating AWA regulations.   These violations included delivering dogs for transportation in commerce, that were under eight weeks old, failing to hold dogs for at least five days after acquiring them, and refusing APHIS inspections.   Owner claimed that such sanctions were excessive.   However, the court found that there was willful violation of the AWA, since inspections were refused.   Also, ignorance is not considered a defense, and although the owners claimed they did not know the age of the eight-week old puppies, they could have found out.   Thus, the sanction was appropriate.

  • A veterinarian's license was revoked by the Ohio Veterinarian Medical Licensing Board and the vet challenged the revocation of his license.  The trial court found the vet guilty of gross incompetence and he appealed claiming there was no definition of gross incompetence in the statute.  The Court of Appeals affirmed the trial court holding no specific definition was required.

  • Defendant brought a motion after the USFWS denied his application to obtain eagle feathers for religious use where defendant failed to obtain certification from the Bureau of Indian Affairs that he was a member of a federally-recognized tribe.  The court held that this requirement is both contrary to the plain reading of that regulation and arbitrary and capricious.  For discussion on formerly recognized tribes and the BGEPA, see Detailed Discussion.

  • In this § 1983 action, defendant kennel operator alleged taking of private property without just compensation, unreasonable search and seizure, and due process violations in relation to seizure of dogs, and that the local humane society conspired with government entities. On appeal of summary judgment for the defendants, the court found her claims against the county were barred, and that she failed to first exhaust her administrative remedies. The animal control officer was acting pursuant to a valid search warrant when she entered the property to seize the dogs, and, under an animal cruelty plea agreement, had authority to inspect Crawford's premises. With regard to the Humane Society defendants, the court found summary judgment proper because there was no evidence amounting to a civil conspiracy to seize the dogs for personal gain.

  • Creekstone Farms Premium Beef (Creekstone) sought to independently test their slaughtered cows so they could more safely provide meat to consumers. Creekstone requested testing kits from the USDA, the same kits that USDA inspectors use to test for BSE. The district court ruled that Creekstone could perform the tests.
  • Plaintiff, a supplier of beef products, brought an action against Defendant, the United States Department of Agriculture (USDA), after the USDA denied Plaintiff’s request to purchase Bovine Spongiform Encephalopathy (BSE) testing kits.   The United States Court of Appeals, District of Columbia Circuit found that the USDA has authority under the Virus Serum Toxin Act (VSTA) to regulate the use of biological products, the USDA’s interpretation of VSTA allowing the USDA to deny an import permit based on the product’s intended use was not inconsistent with the regulation and was therefore entitled to deference by the Court, the USDA’s interpretation of the word “treatment” as including diagnostic activities was entitled to deference, and that   BSE testing is a diagnostic activity for purposes of VSTA.
  • Plaintiff dog owners appeal the trial court's entry of summary judgment in favor of defendant Ted Hallows. Hallows. a Division of Wildlife Resources employee, shot the dogs after they got loose from plaintiffs' backyard. While the factual accounts of the shooting differed, Hallows asserted that he shot the dogs within the scope of his employment and was therefore protected under the Governmental Immunity Act. On appeal, the court first found that plaintiffs may maintain an action against Hallows for conduct outside the scope of his employment and this claim was not barred by their admitted failure to comply with the Immunity Act's notice of claim and statute of limitations requirements. Further, as to plaintiffs' claims that Hallows was not acting within his scope of employment when the shooting occurred, there was sufficient evidence to raise a genuine issue of material fact.

  • "Necessary food" in the animal cruelty statute means food sufficient in both quantity and quality to sustain the animal in question.

  • Landlord brought an eviction proceeding against tenant with a history of mental illness for possession of a cat in his rental unit in violation of a no pets policy. Tenant alleged that he needed the cat to alleviate his "intense feelings of loneliness, anxiety, and depression, which are daily manifestations of his mental illness." The court held that in order to prove that the pet  is necessary for the tenant to use and enjoy the dwelling, he must prove "that he has an emotional and psychological dependence on the cat which requires him to keep the cat in the apartment." The court denied the housing authority's motion for summary judgment, stating that there was a triable issue of fact as to whether the cat was necessary for the tenant to use and enjoy the dwelling.

  • The plaintiffs in this case were a class of visually-impaired persons who use guide dogs. Plaintiffs sought exemption from Hawaii's imposition of a 120-day quarantine on carnivorous animals entering the state (which necessarily included their guide dogs). Specifically, they contend Hawaii's quarantine, designed to prevent the importation of rabies, violates the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA),and their constitutional rights of travel, equal protection and substantive due process. On appeal of summary judgment, this Court held that without reasonable modifications to its quarantine requirement for the benefit of visually-impaired individuals who rely on guide dogs, Hawaii's quarantine requirement effectively prevents such persons from enjoying the benefits of state services and activities in violation of the ADA. The district court's issuance of summary judgment in favor of Hawaii, was reversed and the case was remanded to the district court for further proceedings.

  • The plaintiffs claimed that they purchased horse feed from the first respondent and that the feed was contaminated with monensin. The second respondent manufactured the feed. They claimed that as a result, one of their horses died and five others were permanently injured so that they could not be used for the desired purpose. After addressing several factual issues, the trial judge found for the plaintiffs in regards to the issue of negligence by the second respondent and proceeded to assess damages with regard to the economic value of the horses to the plaintiffs, the cost of replacement, loss of profits and maintenance.

  • The Center for Biological Diversity sought a temporary restraining order to enjoin the National Science Foundation from continuing its acoustical research in the Gulf of California. The scientists who conducted the acoustical research in the Gulf of California, which was an environmentally sensitive area, used an array of air guns to fire extremely high-energy acoustic bursts into the ocean. The sound from the air guns was as high as 263 decibels (dB) at the source. The government had acknowledged that 180 dB caused significant injury to marine mammals. The court found that the Marine Mammal Protection Act (MMPA), governed the activities of the scientists on the research vessel, and that any injury or harassment to marine mammals in the course of the research project in the Gulf of California, outside the territorial waters of Mexico, would violate the MMPA.

  • Plaintiffs appeal the trial court's granting of summary judgment in favor of defendants. The plaintiffs' 5-year-old child was bitten by the defendants' dog while the plaintiffs were visiting the defendants, who were also their neighbors. While jumping on the defendants' trampoline, the plaintiffs' child fell onto the defendants' dog who bit the child on the leg and would not let go for a few minutes.  The plaintiffs contended at trial that the defendants' knowledge that the dog had "Wobbler's Syndrome," a cranial neck instability that causes leg problems, somehow put the defendants on notice of the dog's vicious propensity. However, the court discarded plaintiffs' argument, finding that is no evidence that Butkus had bitten or attempted to bite anyone before the incident. Further, there was no reason for the defendants to believe that the dog's leg condition would make it more apt to attack humans.

  • Court uphold conviction for failure to provide food and water for horses. Even thought not the owner, he was the responsible party. Sentence of $3,000 fine and suspended 3 month was not excessive.

  • The applicants pleaded guilty to a number of charges under the Animal Care and Protection Act 2001 (Qld) following the seizure of 113 live dogs, one cat, 488 rats, 73 mice, 12 guinea pigs and 11 birds from their premises due to unsanitary and inappropriate living conditions. The applicants claimed that RSPCA officers were acting ultra vires and that a stay preventing the RSCPA from parting with the animals should be effected. The applicants' argument failed.

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