Cases

  • Defendants were convicted by the Mitchell Superior Court, Robert Culpepper, Jr., Senior Judge, of dogfighting and gambling and two of the defendants were convicted of commercial gambling, and they appealed. The Supreme Court, Clarke, J., held that: (1) the statute prohibiting dogfighting is not unconstitutionally vague, and does not violate equal protection; (2) penalty provided for violating the dogfighting statute does not amount to cruel and unusual punishment; (3) evidence was sufficient to support convictions; (4) dogfighting is not as a matter of law a lesser included offense of commercial gambling; and (5) dogfighting was not as a matter of fact a lesser included offense of commercial gambling.

  • Plaintiff brought suit for damages based on his allegedly unlawful discharge from employment in Department of Air Force.  U.S. Supreme Court reviewed immunity issues and held that while presidential aides are entitled to qualified immunity, government officials performing discretionary functions are shielded only where their conduct does not violate clearly established statutory or constitutional rights.

  • In this South Carolina case, the court considered the meaning of the term "or" in the state's dog bite statute, SC ST 47-3-110, and whether that word allows a plaintiff to pursue a statutory claim against the owner of the dog while that dog is in the care of another. The facts concerned a veterinary assistant who sued a county sheriff's officer after she was bitten by a police dog while the dog was kenneled at the veterinary clinic where she worked. The lower court granted summary judgment for the sheriff's office. The Supreme Court disagreed with this interpretation. Based on a plain language reading of the statute, the Court concluded that the Legislature intended to allow a claim against the owner of the dog when another person has the dog in his care or keeping.

  • A mail carrier was attacked by two dogs, and sued the dogs’ owners for negligence. The Court of Appeals affirmed summary judgment for the defendants, holding that a dog owner is not liable unless there is evidence that the dog had a vicious propensity and that the owner knew or should have known that the dog was dangerous.

  • Plaintiffs filed suit against a veterinarian and a number of police officers who were involved in their prosecution of animal cruelty. Plaintiffs Switf and Hatlee worked together on a Echo Valley Ranch where they provided care and boarding for horses. In February 2012, Officer Smith went to Echo Valley Ranch to conduct a welfare check on the horses. Officer Smith noticed that the horses seemed to be in poor condition, so he requested that a veternarian visis the ranch to inspect the horses. Dr. Olds, a local veterinarian, visited the ranch and wrote a report that suggested that the horses be seized due to their current state. Officer Smith initially served plaintiffs with a warning but after returning to the ranch and noticing that the horses’ condition had worsened, the horses were seized and plaintiffs were charged with animal cruelty. In this case, plaintiffs argued that the veterinarian had wrote the medical report for a “publicity stunt” and that this report influenced Officer’s Smith’s decision to seize the horses and charge plaintiffs with animal cruelty. The court ultimately found that the veterinarian’s report was not made as a “publicity stunt,” especially due to the fact that the report was filed privately and not made available to the public. Also, the court found that there was no evidence to suggest that the veterinarian and the officers were working with one another in a “conspiracy” to seize the horses and charge plaintiffs with animal cruelty.

  • The respondent applied for a patent on an invention entitled “transgenic animals”.  In its patent application, the respondent seeks to protect both the process by which the "oncomice" are produced and the end product of the process, i.e. the founder mice and the offspring whose cells contain the oncogene.  The process and product claims extend to all non‑human mammals.  The process claims were allowed by the Patent Examiner, while the product claims were rejected.  The appellant Commissioner confirmed the refusal of the product claims.  The Federal Court, Trial Division, dismissed the respondent’s appeal from the appellant’s decision.  At the Supreme Court of Canada, the Court held the appeal should be allowed. A higher life form is not patentable because it is not a “manufacture” or “composition of matter” within the meaning of “invention” in s. 2 of the Patent Act .

  • This is a case involving a train hitting a cow.  This case involves a judgment for defendant based upon plaintiff's common-law negligence complaint in that defendant ran its train upon and killed the plaintiff's cow.  The appellate court upheld defendant's motion for a directed verdict where plaintiff alleged negligence on the part of defendant for failing to fence in its track.

  • While the Moneys (Defendants) were on vacation, they boarded their dog at Peppertree Animal Clinic (Peppertree). On June 16, 1990, Julie Hass (Plaintiff), an employee of Peppertree, was bitten by the dog while walking him.  The Court reverses the Defendants' summary judgment and remands to the trial court because the dog bite statute applies a strict liability standard and that the owner of a dog is only the person who has legal right to the dog. 

  • Plaintiff motorist was injured after hitting a cow that had wandered onto the highway, and sued owner for negligently failing to confine cow. The Supreme Court held that injury claims could only proceed under strict liability theory based on owner's knowledge of animal's vicious propensities. There was no evidence that cow had a vicious propensity, or that owner knew of propensity, thus, owner was not liable. This order was Reversed by Hastings v. Sauve , 2013 WL 1829834 (N.Y., 2013).
  • After plaintiff motorist was injured after hitting a cow that had wandered onto the highway, she sued farm owner, operator of cattle-shipping business, and operator's assistant, alleging that defendants were negligent in not properly confining cow to its pasture. There was no evidence that cow had a vicious or abnormal propensity, or that cow's owner knew of propensity, as required to support a strict liability claim. However, on appeal to the Court of Appeals, the court held that a landowner or the owner of an animal may be liable under ordinary tort-law principles when a farm animal is negligently allowed to stray from the property on which the animal is kept.

  • In the case of Hatahley v. United States, 351 U.S. 173 (1956), a group of Navajo Indians living in Utah sued the government under the Federal Torts Claim Act, to recover the confiscation and destruction of horses and burros that were kept as pets and uniquely valued to the owners. The federal agents confiscated these animals and then sold them to a glue factory. The petitioners vehemently argued that these horses had unique and sentimental value to them, and served as a means of income to yield crops. Although the government agents argued that they were authorized to engage in this taking pursuant to the Utah Abandoned Horse Slaughter Act, the trial court ruled in favor of the petitioners. The court awarded the petitioners a judgment of $100,000 based on the fair market value, consequential damages for deprivation of use, and “mental pain and suffering” of the petitioners. The decision was reversed and remanded to the District Court with instructions to assess damages with sufficient particularity.

  • This Mississippi Supreme Court decision considers the construction of a zoning ordinance that prohibits the "keeping or raising poultry" in the "R-1 Residential District" of Madison County. The property owner, Hatfield, was found to be violating R-1 by the Madison County Board of Supervisors after county officials found around 60 "ducks, geese and other fowl" on this property. Hatfield appealed this decision to the Circuit Court as arbitrary and capricious based on an unconstitutionally vague ordinance section. The Circuit Court, as the reviewing appellate body for the ordinance violation, found the Board's decision was supported by evidence and not arbitrary or capricious. On appeal by Hatfield, the Supreme Court first observed that there are two districts in appellant's subdivision: Agricultural and Residential. In the Agricultural Districts, breeding, raising, and feeding fowl is an expressly permitted use. Appellant lives the zoned Residential Estate District. While the R-1 zoning allows "livestock" and "grazing livestock" on tracts of land one acre or greater, it does not allow the breeding, raising, and feeding chickens, ducks, or other fowl as a permitted use. Hatfield suggested that grazing/livestock section (Section 601) could be interpreted to include poultry, fowl, and/or birds. However, the Supreme Court found that position unreasonable since the examples listed in the code section are "obviously limited to large, four-legged, hoofed animals." This is further supported by the fact raising fowl is expressly permitted in one district, but not the other. Thus, the Ordinance was sufficiently clear and not manifestly unreasonable. The circuit court's decision was affirmed.
  • The plaintiff in this case applied for a conditional use permit (CUP) to keep up to five tigers on her property, but the county planning commission and board of supervisors denied her application. In her application, plaintiff indicates that the project would include three tiger enclosures, a 13,500-square-foot arena with a roof over 14 feet in height at its highest point, with the area surrounded by an eight-foot-high chain link fence encompassing over seven acres. The captive tigers would be used in the entertainment industry: movie sets, television commercials, and still photography. In denying the application, the Board found that the plaintiff failed to prove two elements necessary for a CUP: the project is compatible with the planned uses in the general area, and the project is not detrimental to the public interest, health, safety or welfare. The court noted that plaintiff bears the burden of demonstrating her entitlement to the permit. In fact, the court noted that while plaintiff claims "an unblemished safety record," she submitted videos showing tigers "roaming freely in the backyard of her Beverly Hills home" and tigers posing with plaintiff and her sister on the beach. The court observed that, "[h]er well-intentioned desire to own [the tigers] does not trump her neighbors' right to safety and peace of mind." The judgment of the lower court was affirmed.
  • This case addresses whether the Secretary of Agriculture intended to include “animal acts” under the AWA. Animal acts are any performance of animals where such animals are trained to perform some behavior or action or are part of a show, performance, or exhibition. Defendant presented an animal act with dogs and ponies to paying audiences and occasionally appeared on commercial television. Defendant asserted that he did not “exhibit” animals simply by showing dogs and ponies and argued that the Secretary unconstitutionally added “animal acts” to the AWA. The court held that the inclusion of “animal acts” was authorized as“[t]he words ‘includes’ and ‘such as’ [in the AWA] point convincingly to the conclusion that the listing of types of exhibitions in the statutory text was intended to be but partial and illustrative.”

  • Defendants stipulated that they were involved in cockfights and were prosecuted for numerous violations of § 1109(1)(d), part of Hawaii's cruelty to animals statute.  The reviewing court found that the statute was not vague, and was sufficiently definite to satisfy due process with regard to the charge against defendants; nor was the statute overly broad as applied to defendants.

  • Defendants (USFWS and rancher owners) filed a motion to dismiss the 'Alala bird and strike its name from the plaintiffs' complaint as well a motion for Rule 11 sanctions. The District Court held that, as a matter of first impression, the endangered 'Alala bird was not a 'person' within the meaning of the Endangered Species Act's (ESA) citizen suit provision. However, the Court declined to impose Rule 11 sanctions on the ground that plaintiffs' counsel acted improperly in filing a complaint that named the ‘Alala  as a party, finding that there is no evidence plaintiffs named the ‘Alala for an improper purpose. Defendant's motion for a more definite statement was granted to provide greater specificity to pinpoint those areas within the essential habitat locations that may be affected.

  • Plaintiff's complaint was based on government employees’ duty to exercise reasonable care in the execution of their official duties. Government moved to dismiss for lack of subject matter jurisdiction. The district court found the action was barred by three exceptions to the Federal Torts Claims Act: the misrepresentation exception, the discretionary exception, and the interference with contracts exception. Government motion was granted.
  • An 8-year-old girl suffered injuries as a result of being bitten by a dog that escaped from a veterinarian clinic. The girl sued the clinic and the owner of the dog, but the owner was granted a motion for summary judgment because she did not have care or dominion over the animal at the time of the injury; this decision was then appealed.  The Second District Appellate Court of Illinois held the Animal Control Act (510 ILCS 5/16) did not impose strict liability on a dog owner solely because he or she was the legal owner of a dog. The lower court’s decision was therefore affirmed because there was no reasonable or factual basis to impose liability.

  • Defendant appeals an order with the Henderson County Sheriff's Office to destroy his dogs under Chapter 822 of the Texas Health and Safety Code. More specifically, defendant claims reversible error after he was denied a jury trial. Defendant's three dogs were seized after they attacked an individual riding a bicycle in front of defendant's residence. After a hearing, the dogs were found to be dangerous pursuant to Section 822.041 related to dogs causing serious bodily injury to a person. The judge then ordered the dogs to be humanely destroyed. Hayes appealed the order and requested a jury trial, which was objected to by the Henderson County Attorney's Office and sustained by the court. The dogs were found to be dangerous at a bench trial and ordered humanely euthanized, while defendant was ordered to pay $2,780 to the county. On appeal, defendant argues the county court erred in removing his case from the jury trial docket. The court now considers two questions: "(1) whether the owner of a dog ordered to be humanely destroyed by a justice, county, or municipal court judge, pursuant to Chapter 822, subchapter A, of the Texas Health and Safety Code, has the right to appeal such order; and (2) if an appeal is allowed, whether a jury can be requested to hear the de novo appeal." The court here declined to adopt the state's interpretation that the statute's silence as to a right of appeal indicates that the legislature eliminated that right. In fact, the court observed Subchapter A of Chapter 822 dealing with less serious "dangerous dogs," allows a party to appeal a dangerous dog finding. The court found it would be inconsistent that the more severe Subchapter D denies an appeal of right where the less severe subchapter grants it, especially where a forfeiture of property occurs (i.e., dogs). As to the right to jury trial, the court found Chapter 822 silent on that issue. However, the court found the order for seizure and destruction of defendant's "special personal property" guaranteed him a trial by jury under Article I of the Texas Constitution. The trial court's Final Order was reversed and the case was remanded to county court.
  • Syllabus by the Court

    In an action to enjoin the City of Overland Park from enforcing an ordinance regulating the ownership of pit bull dogs within the city, the record is examined and it is held: (1) The ordinance is not unconstitutionally vague or overbroad; (2) the ordinance does not violate the due process rights of plaintiffs under the United States and Kansas Constitutions; (3) the ordinance does not violate the equal protection clauses of the United States and Kansas Constitutions; and (4) the district court did not err in dismissing the plaintiffs' claim for damages pursuant to 42 U.S.C. § 1983 (1982).

  • A dog that chased and pinned a man was shot by a police officer who had been called for assistance.  The dog owner instituted an action against the police officer, the police chief and the city.  The trial court granted summary judgment in favor of the police officer, police chief and city, and the Court of Appeals affirmed the decision holding the police officer was entitled to statutory immunity.

  • Appellees sued appellant for damages after he poisoned three of their dogs. The Court held that an owner has an action and remedy against a trespasser for damages resulting from injuries inflicted upon dogs because they are property. The Court elaborated on the true rule in determining the value of dogs, explaining that  It may be either a market value or some special or pecuniary value to the owner. The Court allowed actual damages.

  • The plaintiff lived in Hemmingway's old property, a museum, with 53 polydactyl cats (cats having more than the usual number of toes). The United States Department of Agriculture investigated and said that the plaintiff needed to get an exhibitor's license to show the cats, but that was not possible unless the cats were enclosed. Plaintiff sued the government in order to avoid the $200 per cat per day fines assessed, but the court held that the government has sovereign immunity from being sued.

  • Landowners were held in violation of a zoning regulation, established under a Hendricks County ordinance, which forbade having wild animals residing on residential property.   The trial court held that the county could not pass such a law, since it would be preempted by state and federal law.   However, on appeal, this Court found that federal  (the AWA) and state law did not preempt the County from passing such ordinances.   The trial court erroneously attempted to interpret the law when it was not ambiguous, and, thus, preemption   by state and federal law should not have been found.   Thus, the zoning regulation was permitted.

  • A car accident occurred and Plaintiffs, Jo Ellen Hendrickson and her husband were injured when her vehicle hit two horses that were on the roadway. Defendant Randall D. Grider owned the horses and Defendant Gartner owned the lot where Grider kept the horses. Defendant Cope is Gartner's son-in-law and acted as an intermediary between Gartner and Grider. The Hendrickson’s filed a complaint against Grider, Cope, and Gartner and alleged that they were owners and/or keepers of horses under statute R.C. Chapter 951 and that they negligently allowed the horses to escape. Hendrickson sought damages for her injuries and a loss of consortium claim on her husbands’ behalf. The Common Pleas Court, granted summary judgment for the Defendants. The Hendrickson’s appealed. The Court of Appeals of Ohio, Fourth District affirmed the Common Pleas Court. The Court of Appeals reasoned that: (1) neither defendant was “keeper” of horses within the meaning of the statute which governed liability for horses running at large on public roads; (2) even if the lot owner breached their duty by allowing the owner of the horses to keep the horses on her property before fencing was installed, such breach was not the proximate cause of plaintiffs' injuries; and (3) the lot owner could not have reasonably foreseen that the horses would escape from a fenced-in lot and injure the motorist and, thus, she could not be held liable in negligence for the motorist's resulting injuries.

  • Dog owner brought claims of professional negligence, negligent misrepresentation, lack of informed consent, reckless breach of a bailment contract, and emotional distress after her golder retriever, Bear, died following a routine neutering procedure. After the surgery, Bear was bloated and vomiting, and the owner alleged that the animal hospital failed to properly inform her of his condition. As a result, the owner treated Bear with a homeopathic remedy instead of the prescription medication given to her by the hospital and Bear's condition worsened and eventually caused his death.
  • In this case, the court of appeals reversed the trial court's decision to grant appellee Hetrick's dangerous wild animal (DWA) permits. Hetrick was the owner of DWA's on his property, and according to an Ohio law he was required to register the DWA's and apply for permits before a certain statutory deadline. This court held that the trial court abused its discretion in finding that the Ohio Department of Agriculture (ODA) lacked a statutory basis to deny the application for a rescue facility permit on timeliness grounds but did not err in so finding on caging and care grounds. Further, the court reversed, in part, the judgment of the Wood County Court of Common Pleas in the rescue facility permit case; reversed, in toto, the judgment of the lower court in the wildlife shelter permit case; and with this decision, reinstated the ODA's denial of both permits. Judgments reversed.
  • In 2013, Plaintiffs visited Defendants' zoo, the Cherokee Bear Zoo, in North Carolina where they observed four bears advertised as grizzly bears in what appeared to Plaintiffs as substandard conditions. As a result, Plaintiffs filed a citizen suit in federal district court alleging the Zoo's practice of keeping the bears was a taking of a threatened species under the federal Endangered Species Act (ESA). In essence, Plaintiffs contend the Zoo's conduct was a form of harassment under the ESA, and so they sought injunctive relief. After denying the Zoo's motions for summary judgment, the district court held a bench trial where the court ruled against Plaintiffs on the issue of the Zoo's liability under the ESA. The manner in which the bears were kept did not constitute a taking for purposes of the ESA. On appeal to the Fourth Circuit, this Court first found Plaintiffs established Article III standing for an aesthetic injury. Second, the Court agreed with the district court that evidence showed these bears were grizzly bears. While the Defendant-Zoo's veterinarian testified at trial that they are European brown bears, the collective evidence including expert testimony, veterinary records, USDA reports, and the Zoo's own advertising justified the lower court's conclusion that the bears are threatened grizzly bears. As to the unlawful taking under the ESA, the Fourth Circuit vacated the lower court's holding and remanded the case to district court. The legal analysis used by the court was incorrect because the court did not first determine whether the Zoo's practices were "generally accepted" before it applied the exclusion from the definition of harassment. The lower court based its conclusion on the fact that the Zoo met applicable minimum standards under the Animal Welfare Act (AWA) and did not explore whether these standards were "generally accepted." Affirmed in part, vacated and remanded.
  • The Migratory Bird Treaty Act ("MBTA"), 16 U.S.C. §§ 703-712 (2000), extends protection to all birds covered by four migratory bird treaties, which, in relevant part, define migratory birds to include the family Anatidae (which includes the mute swan).  Under the authority, delegated by Congress the Secretary of the Interior has published lists of protected migratory birds.  The instant case arose when appellant Joyce Hill filed a law suit pro se in District Court claiming that the Secretary's regulation violated the MBTA in excluding mute swans from the List of Migratory Birds promulgated at 50 C.F.R. § 10.13 (2000). The District Court rejected Hill's claim and granted summary judgment in favor of the Secretary.  In reversing the the District Court's decision, the court found that the Secretary pointed to nothing in the statute, applicable treaties, or administrative record that justified the exclusion of mute swans from the List of Migratory Birds.  It also ordered the Secretary's List of Migratory Birds, codified at 50 C.F.R. § 10.13, insofar as the list excludes mute swans, to be vacated.  This case more or less set the stage for the revisions to the MBTA in 2004 by Congress's passing of the MBTRA.

  • Appellant dog owners sought review of the decision from the Franklin County Court of Common Pleas (Ohio), which granted the motion to dismiss filed by appellee veterinarian on the basis that the breach of contract and negligence action filed against the veterinarian was barred by the one-year statute of limitations on malpractice claims under Ohio Rev. Code Ann. § 2305.11(A). On appeal, the court reversed and held that § 2305.11(A) applied only to physicians, attorneys, and other professional specifically delineated in the statute, not veterinarians. The court reversed the dismissal of the owners' breach of contract and negligence action filed against the veterinarian and remanded for further proceedings.

  • A dealer raised exotic animals (mainly big cats), and USDA ordered that the dangerous ones be fenced, with fencing being a minimum of eight-feet high.   However, the animal housing standard only required that the fencing be sturdy enough to prevent the animals from escaping.   The eight-foot rule established by USDA was considered arbitrary, and it did not have to be followed.    

  • The indictment charged that the defendant unlawfully and needlessly mutilated a dog by setting a steel-trap in a bucket of slop and catching the dog by the tongue, and that great pain and torture were unlawfully and needlessly inflicted upon the dog. Defendant argued that a dog had been invading his property and destroying hens' nests for a long time. Witnesses testified that the dog had a bad character for prowling about through the neighborhood at night. The court reversed and remanded for a new trial, finding that defendant had a right to protect his premises against such invasions, and to adopt such means as were necessary for that purpose. There was no evidence that the slop used by defendant was such as was calculated or likely to lure dogs away from the premises where they belonged on to his premises or within his enclosures. If the dog was in the habit of committing the depredations, defendant had a right to set a steel-trap for the purpose of capturing him, and if, while committing the nightly depredations the dog was thus caught and mutilated, it was not needless torture or mutilation within the meaning of the Act, and the jury should have been so instructed. The indictment charged that the defendant unlawfully and needlessly mutilated a dog by setting a steel-trap in a bucket of slop and catching the dog by the tongue, and that great pain and torture were unlawfully and needlessly inflicted upon the dog. Defendant argued that a dog had been invading his property and destroying hens' nests for a long time. Witnesses testified that the dog had a bad character for prowling about through the neighborhood at night. The court reversed and remanded for a new trial, finding that defendant had a right to protect his premises against such invasions, and to adopt such means as were necessary for that purpose. There was no evidence that the slop used by defendant was such as was calculated or likely to lure dogs away from the premises where they belonged on to his premises or within his enclosures. If the dog was in the habit of committing the depredations, defendant had a right to set a steel-trap for the purpose of capturing him, and if, while committing the nightly depredations the dog was thus caught and mutilated, it was not needless torture or mutilation within the meaning of the Act, and the jury should have been so instructed. The court reversed defendant's conviction for cruelty to animals and granted a new trial.

  • A Broward County, Florida ordinance defines a dangerous dog as “any dog that . . . [h]as killed or caused the death of a domestic animal in one incident.” Plaintiff Brian Hoesch’s dog escaped from Hoesch’s backyard and attacked and killed a neighbor’s cat. Prior to this incident, the dog had never been declared “dangerous” by any governmental authority. Hoesch requested a hearing after Broward’s animal control division notified Hoesch of its intent to destroy his dog. After a judgment in favor of Broward County, Hoesch contends that both county ordinances conflict with state law, section 767.11(1)(b), which defines a “dangerous dog” as any dog that “[h]as more than once severely injured or killed a domestic animal . . . .” The District Court of Appeal of Florida, Fourth District, concluded “that Broward County ordinance sections 4-2(k)(2) and 4-12(j)(2) are null and void insofar as they conflict with state law.” 

  • This case arises from the treatment of plaintiff's horse by the defendant-veterinarian. This appeal arises from plaintiff's claim that the trial court erred in granting a compulsory non-suit in favor of defendant finding that the Veterinary Immunity Act bars claims against veterinarians except those based upon gross negligence. This court agreed with the lower court that defendant was confronted with an emergency medical condition such as to fall under the protections of the Act. Further, this court held that the trial court committed no error in concluding that plaintiff's consent was not required before the veterinarian performed the abdominal tap because that procedure was rendered under an 'emergency situation.'

  • Plaintiffs operated a derelict-animal “sanctuary” on their ten-acre property in Marion County, Texas, where they held over one hundred exotic animals, including six tigers, several leopards, and a puma. Plaintiffs were arrested and charged with animal cruelty and forfeited the animals. Afterward, plaintiffs sued many of those involved in the events under a cornucopia of legal theories, all of which the district court eventually rejected. On appeal, plaintiffs argued Marion County and the individual defendants violated their Fourth Amendment rights by illegally searching their property and seizing the animals. The court held, however, that government officials may enter the open fields without a warrant, as the defendants did here, because “an open field is neither a house nor an effect, and, therefore, the government's intrusion upon the open fields is not one of those unreasonable searches proscribed by the text of the Fourth Amendment.” One plaintiff further alleged violation of the Americans with Disabilities Act; however, the court dismissed this claim because the plaintiff failed to allege how he was excluded from a government benefit or effective service as a result of not having an interpreter during the investigation or arrest. The other claims were either dismissed for lack of jurisdiction, not being properly appealed, or not stating a proper cause of action. The district court’s grant of summary judgment was therefore affirmed.
  • This case is an appeal of a judgment granting an Alabama divorce. With regard to animal law, the husband argues on appeal that the trial court erred in awarding the wife the couple's two dogs. Specifically, the husband argues that one of the dogs was given to him as a gift and is therefore his separate property. He also suggests that because the dogs lived with him since his wife moved out of the marital property (from 11/2012 until 02/2015), he is the "proper owner" of the dogs. While this court noted that evidence concerning ownership was disputed at trial, the evidence is undisputed that the wife entered the marriage with one of the dogs. The second dog was given to both parties by the wife's niece. In examining Alabama law, the court observed that it has long been held that dogs are property. Thus, evidence of ownership can come from documentary title (like a dog license or registration) or possession. Here, the court was persuaded by the testimony that when the wife moved out, she moved into an apartment and was unable to take the dogs with her. No evidence was presented that the wife's circumstances changed to allow her to keep the dogs, and there was no showing that the wife sought court intervention to regain possession of the dogs. Thus, the court stated the following: "Based on the presumption stated in Placey, supra, that the ownership of a pet is presumed to be in the person who possesses it, and given the wife's failure to present evidence indicating that she was in a position to take the dogs, we conclude that the evidence does not support the trial court's decision to award the dogs to the wife. Accordingly, that portion of the judgment awarding the dogs to the wife is reversed."
  • This is an action against a licensed veterinarian to recover damages for his alleged negligence in the diagnosis and treatment of plaintiff's pigs.  Plaintiff alleged defendant-veterinarian negligently vaccinated his purebred pigs for cholera.  The court held that a n expert witness's opinion based on conflicting evidence which he is called upon to weigh is inadmissible.  Further, a n expert witness may not include the opinion of another expert witness as basis for his own opinion.  
  • In this Colorado case, the defendant was convicted in the county court of keeping dogs in a residential zone in violation of zoning ordinance.  The question before the court was whether section 2-3(3)(a) provides ascertainable standards which can be constitutionally enforced by the zoning administrator.  The court held that the ordinance is sufficiently specific to pass constitutional muster.  The Court also held that the zoning ordinance relating to accessory uses allowed in residential zones provided sufficient guidelines for it to be constitutionally enforced by the zoning administrator and that the municipality had not delegated to the zoning administrator the authority to determine by regulation the number of dogs which may be kept in a residential zone as an accessory use. 

  • This North Carolina case involves the issue of whether a landlord can be held liable for negligence when his tenant's dogs injure a third party where a landlord has agreed by contract to remove "undesirable" dogs.  Under the terms of the lease, the tenant, Olson, could keep one Rottweiler dog on the property.  It was also stipulated that the landlord could require removal of any "undesirable" pets with 48-hour's notice.  The dogs in the instant action attacked a contractor who was making an estimate on some of the rental homes, and, according to testimony, had committed two prior attacks.  The court concluded that the Court of Appeals erred, in that the plaintiff was not required to show Colonial was an owner or keeper of the dogs in order to show Colonial was negligent; that requirement is limited only to strict liability actions.  As a result, the court found Colonial failed to use ordinary care by failing to require the defendant Olson to restrain his Rottweiler dogs, or remove them from the premises when the defendant knew, or in the exercise of reasonable care, should have known, from the dogs' past conduct, that they were likely, if not restrained, to do an act from which a reasonable person could foresee.  Of particular importance to the court, was the lease provision, which the court felt contractually obligated the landlord to retain control over defendant's dogs. 

  • In this case, Michael Holcomb filed a civil action against Charles Long alleging that Long’s negligence in saddling one of the horses that he owned resulted in Holcomb falling from the horse and suffering serious injuries. The trial court granted summary judgment in favor of Long holding that he was entitled to civil immunity under Georgia’s Injuries From Equine or Llama Activities Act. Holcomb appealed the trial court’s decision arguing that Long’s negligence was not covered by the act. The court of appeals reviewed the case and affirmed the trial court’s decision. The court of appeals determined that the issue with the saddle that caused Holcomb to fall did not fall under any of the exceptions under the Act that would allow Long to be civilly liable. As a result, the court of appeals affirmed the grant of summary judgment for Long.

  • A dog, on two separate occasions, entered residential premises, turned over a cage and killed a guinea pig. The applicant claimed that this was insufficient evidence for the dog to be declared 'dangerous'. The judge found that a dog's propensity to pursue one animal should not be distinguished from a propensity to pursue all animals and that the finding of the dog as 'dangerous' should stand.

  • Sauk Rapids, Minnesota passed a city ordinance limiting the number of dogs that could be kept in a residential home. The appellants were dog owners, breeders, and Ms. Holt, who also rescued Newfoundland dogs help find new homes for them. The lower court held that the ordinances were unconstitutional, but the city appealed and on appeal the court reversed the finding. Minnesota law granted the municipality the authority to regulate public and private property, including regulating the keeping of dogs on residential property. City Hall received many complaints concerning dogs, so the Sauk Rapids ordinance was introduced by the mayor to address issues with dog odor and noise. Because limiting the number of dogs can reduce odor and noise, the court found that there was a rational relationship between the ordinance and reducing the problems associated with the dogs. The dog owners failed to show that the ordinance was unreasonable. The constitutionality was upheld because the ordinance was rationally related to the health, safety, and general welfare of the community as affected by dogs.
  • A driver hit a cow standing in the road and the driver brought suit against the cow's owner and the owner's insurance agency.  The trial court held in favor of the driver and the Court of Appeals affirmed based upon the doctrine of res ipsa loquitor.

  • In this Oregon case, the defendant appealed a conviction for violating Hood River County Ordinances (HRCO) under which the owner of a dog may not allow it "to become a public nuisance * * * " by "[d]isturb[ing] any person by frequent or prolonged noises[.]" (Her dog was reported to have barked for six straight hours.)  The defendant argued that the ordinances are invalid as applied to her because ORS 30.935 immunizes farm practices from the application of local government ordinances.  The defendant operated a farm with a herd of 60 cashmere and angora goats on land that bordered a national forest and used her dogs to keep predators at bay.  The Court of Appeals noted that once defendant raised the defense of the right to farm practice, the county had the burden of disproving it, which it failed to do.  Further, the trial court erred by disregarding uncontested facts that established defendant's immunity.

  • In this Texas case, Hoog-Watson asserted that a search and seizure of her home violated 42 U.S.C. § 1983 and Texas tort law, and sought both monetary and injunctive relief against county officials. On appeal, this Court found that Hoog-Watson presented sufficient evidence to raise a genuine issue of fact as to whether the the requisite prior criminal proceeding took place, thereby precluding summary judgment. As to County Attorney Murray-Kolb's claim of prosecutorial immunity, this court found that because Murray-Kolb partipated in the search and seizure, an investigative function normally performed by the police, she is protected only by qualified immunity.

  • The owner of a bird of prey had kept it in a wire aviary for at least six weeks, during which it had injured itself by repeatedly flying into the wire mesh. Having been convicted on these facts of an offence of cruelly ill-treating the bird contrary to the first limb of s 1(1)(a) of the Protection of Animals Act 1911, he appealed, contending that under that limb, unlike the second limb, he should only have been convicted if he was guilty of a positive act of deliberate cruelty. Dismissing the appeal, the Divisional Court held that a person could be guilty of cruel ill-treatment of an animal he was responsible for by allowing it to remain in a situation where it was continuing to injure itself, even if he did not desire to bring about the harm.

  • Action brought on behalf of Alaskan Eskimos which challenged the validity of the Department of Commerce regulations adopted pursuant to IWC Act. Plaintiffs claim is the the Commission exceeded its jurisdiction under the Convention when it eliminated the native subsistence exemption for Alaskan Eskimos. The Court reverses and remands the districts courts dismissal of the action.

  • Native American medicine woman and her husband convicted of illegally possessing wild bird feathers in violation of Virginia statute.  The Virginia Court of Appeals held that the statute violates RFRA because it does not provide a scheme to possess feathers for religious purposes, as it does for other purposes.  Thus, the statute was not religiously neutral because it discriminated based on content and the state did not employ the least restrictive means in advancing its compelling interest.  For further discussion on the federal Bald and Golden Eagle Protection Act, see Detailed Discussion of Eagle Act .

  • The defendant was charged under the Alabama cruelty to animal statute killing a dog.  The trial court found the defendant guilty of cruelly killing the dog.  The defendant appealed the descision to the Supreme Court for the determination if the killing of the dog with a rifle was cruel.  The Supreme Court found that the killing of a dog without the showing of cruelty to the animal was not a punishable offence under the cruelty to animal statute.  The Supreme Court reversed the lower court's descision and remanded it.

  • Petitioner sold dogs and puppies without an Animal Welfare Act (“AWA”) dealer license. An Administrative Law Judge (“ALJ”) found the Petitioner violated the AWA and issued a cease and desist order to prevent further violations of the Act and ordered Petitioner to pay $14,430 in civil penalties. Both Petitioner and Respondent, the Administrator of the Animal and Plant Health Inspection Service (“APHIS”), appealed the ALJ's decision to a judicial officer (“JO”), acting for the Secretary of the Department of Agriculture, who increased the civil penalties amount from $14,430 to $191,200. Petitioner appealed this decision, alleging that (1) the ALJ and JO erred by failing to determine the willfulness of his actions, and (2) the JO improperly applied the Department's criteria for assessing civil penalties. The 6th Circuit found that since the AWA did not contain a willfulness requirement, the JO's failure to make a willfulness determination was not an abuse of discretion. Further, the 6th Circuit held that the JO's factual findings regarding Petitioner's dog sales were supported by substantial evidence. Lastly, the 6th Circuit held the size of the civil penalty assessed against Petitioner was warranted by law. The court denied the petition for review and affirmed the Secretary's Decision and Order.

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