Cases

  • Reliance is to be no longer placed on "severe" sanction policy set forth in prior decisions; rather, sanction in each case will be determined by examining nature of violations in relation to remedial purposes of regulatory statute involved, along with all relevant circumstances, always giving appropriate weight to recommendations of administrative officials charged with responsibility for achieving congressional purpose.
  • Proof of respondent's willful violations of Animal Welfare Act and regulations and standards is not necessary for revocation or suspension of respondent's license where respondent received notice in writing of facts or conduct that might warrant suspension or revocation of his license, and respondent had opportunity to achieve compliance with requirements of Act and regulations and standards.
  • Inspectors have considerable discretion in selecting their methods of inspection and way in which they document their observations, and photographic documentation obtained during normal business hours in reasonable manner that does not disrupt ongoing research must be construed as within boundaries of such discretion; interference with inspectors' reasonable efforts to take photographs to enhance inspection violates § 2146(a).
  • Respondent who is unable to afford attorney has no right to have counsel provided by government in disciplinary administrative proceedings conducted under Animal Welfare Act.
  • Willful violation is defined as one where violator either intentionally does act which is prohibited, irrespective of evil motive or reliance on erroneous advice, or acts with careless disregard of statutory requirements.
  • Mr. Candy started Tri-State, a zoo, in 2002 as a way to provide his children and other members of the community in Cumberland, Maryland, with an entertaining and educational activity. However, several violations of the Animal Welfare Act led to a cease and desist order and a 45 day suspension of the zoo’s license.
  • An Administrative Law Judge issued a cease and desist order against Vanishing Species, Inc for violations of the Animal Welfare Act. The ALJ also revoked the organization’s license and assessed civil penalties. Facts that led to these sanctions include: Respondent housing animals at a site without notifying APHIS of the location; a storm interfering with the air conditioning system that cooled a building that housed animals owned by Respondent, and because the system did not correct itself and Respondent did not provide an alternate cooling system or verify the health of the animals, at least one animal died; Respondent not having a currently signed program of veterinary care on February 4, 201; a wooden frame surrounding the water tub in the bear enclosure was in disrepair; the wooden horizontal support beam for the bear enclosure was cracked; and the vertical metal support next to the door of the skunk enclosure had exposed jagged edges that were accessible to animals.
  • While corrections are to be encouraged and may be taken into account when determining sanction to be imposed, even immediate correction of violation does not operate to eliminate fact that violation occurred and does not provide basis for dismissal of alleged violation.
  • Except as provided in 9 CFR § 2.11, neither Animal Welfare Act (7 USCS §§ 2131 et seq.) nor regulations issued under Act specifically provide for order prohibiting person who is unlicensed from obtaining license; nevertheless, Act provides that Secretary has general authority to promulgate such "orders," as well as such rules and regulations, as may be necessary to effectuate purposes of Act (7 USCS § 2151), which means that Secretary does have power to order that unlicensed person who violates Act, or regulations or standards under Act, be barred from licensure.
  • Exhibitor who engaged in recurring pattern of noncompliance with standards governing structural strength, food storage, ventilation, maintenance of facilities and enclosures, cleaning, housekeeping and interior building surfaces, but who made good faith effort to achieve compliance, is properly sanctioned with $1000 civil penalty, 20-day suspension, and cease and desist order.
  • Respondent Raymond Kerlin, D.V.M., appealed a decision of the Department of Law and Public Safety, Division of Consumer Affairs, Board of Veterinary Medical Examiners (Board), finding him guilty of "gross malpractice or gross neglect" in the practice of veterinary medicine after an employee at his office (his wife) stated that the office could not treat a deathly ill kitten after the owners requested payment by credit (apparently not accepted at the office).  In this case, the court observed nothing in the findings of facts to support a conclusion that respondent was aware of the exchange which occurred between the kitten’s owner and Mrs. Kerlin in time for him to have prevented the situation or to have taken remedial steps. Nothing adduced at trial proved that Dr. Kerlin followed the policy of rejecting requests for emergency treatment on credit. Thus, the court concluded that the State failed to establish that respondent was guilty of a violation or of conduct warranting disciplinary action for "gross malpractice", and the decision of the Board was reversed. 

  • Co-executor of an estate petitioned the Westchester County Surrogate's Court for a decree in accordance with EPTL 7–8.1[d] reducing the amount of money to be transferred from the estate to the trustees of a testamentary pet trust established under the decedent's will. Since the decedent gave very specific instructions as to how she wanted her cats to be cared for and the petition was in opposition to the decedent’s wishes, the court denied the reduction.
  • The principle issue in this case is whether the planned stopover of a few hours in Kennedy Airport in New York constitutes an "importation" within the meaning of the MMPA.  The respondent in this case was employed by a business dealing in the international trade of animals and was attempting to bring four dolphins captured off the coast of Argentina back to Japan.  The respondent only landed the dolphins in New York as a stopover on their way to Tokyo, but the court found that there was no requirement of knowledge or specific intent under the MMPA to constitute civil violations.

  • This case is a civil penalty proceeding under the MMPA for the unlawful importation of eight bottlenose porpoises into the United States.  In this case, the court found that specific intent is not required for importation under the MMPA. The court found that the route taken over the United States, the requirement to land for customs clearance purposes, or weather conditions was known or should have been foreseeable to all parties. 

  • In 1999, civil penalties in the amount of $59,500 were assessed for the release of two dolphins from captivity.  The dolphins were not prepared to survive in the wild and sustained life-threatening injuries as a result of their release.  An administrative law judge found that the release of two dolphins without providing them with the necessary skills for survival resulted in harassment and injury to them, and therefore, constituted a violation of the MMPA.

  • This case involves violations of the MMPA by taking, in the form of harassment by feeding or attempting to feed wild dolphins.  The respondents, a captain of a vessel used in a dolphin-feeding encounter, and the sole shareholder of a boat renal company, were both found guilty and assessed civil penalties in the amount of $4500.  Though the shareholder was not on the vessel when it committed the feeding violations, he was found guilty of violating the MMPA, by providing a platform from which feeding is conducted or supported. 

  • The question in this case was whether respondents, members of a marine mammal conservation group, violated the MMPA by interfering with the authorized capture of six dolphins.  As result of this case, which was a civil penalty proceeding, only one of the respondents was found guilty of taking under the MMPA. The court found that the respondent's actions, although taken with noble intentions, endangered the lives of the dolphins, was improper, and dangerous.  He was assessed a fine in the amount of $2,000.

  • Appellee established a business that allowed for "high fence" hunting, which refers to hunting wild animals on property that is enclosed by a fence, of privately-owned whitetail deer. The pivotal question in this appeals case was whether the Indiana Department of Natural Resources (IDNR) was correct in asserting that the current statutory scheme prohibited this practice, and therefore allowed the agency to promulgate rules effectuating that prohibition. The Indiana Court of Appeals held that IDNR did not have the power to regulate fish and wildlife that were legally owned or held in captivity under a license. The IDNR therefore went beyond its express powers conferred upon it by the General Assembly when it promulgated rules that prohibited "high fence" hunting. The lower court's grant of summary judgment to the appellee was affirmed.
  • A man shipped his dog on an American Airlines airplane, and the dog died shortly after landing. The court found that the contract signed prior to take-off limited the liability of the airline. However, the airline could be liable because after landing, the man had asked for his dog back, to give it veterinary care, but the airline took more than four hours to give it back. Also, the airline could be liable if the plane temperature had been higher than for which the contract called.

  • Motion of Western Wildlife Conservancy, et al., for leave to file a brief as amici curiae granted. Petition for writ of certiorari to the United States Court of Appeals for the Tenth Circuit denied.

  • Several plaintiffs - including six wildlife and animal advocacy groups, several state legislators and politicians, and more than a dozen individuals - bring a facial First Amendment challenge to the Utah constitution supermajority requirement for initiatives related to wildlife management. District court held the plaintiffs had standing, but dismissed the claims on their merit. On appeal, the court affirmed the lower court's decision.

  • After the International Court of Justice ruled against Japan in the Whaling in the Antarctic case, Sea Shepherd moved to dismiss the Ninth Circuit’s earlier ruling regarding Sea Shepherd’s own actions in the Antarctic. Sea Shepherd claimed that because the Institute had announced that it would not engage in whaling in the 2014-15 season, its claim was moot. This argument, though, ignored the fact the Institute also stated that it plans to resume whaling in the future, leading the Court to dismiss the motion.
  • The Institute of Cetacean Research, a Japanese whaling group, sued the direct action environmental protection organization Sea Shepherd, claiming that Sea Shepherd’s actions taken against the whaling group’s vessels in the Antarctic are violent and dangerous. The Institute claimed that Sea Shepherd had rammed whaling ships, thrown dangerous objects on to the ships, attempted to prevent them from moving forward, and navigated its vessels in such a way as to endanger the Japanese ships and their crews. The Institute’s request for an injunction was denied when the Court held that the Institute did not establish the necessary factors. The Court did state, however, that though Sea Shepherd’s acts did not constitute piracy, it did not approve of the organization’s methods or mission.
  • After the Institute was denied an injunction in the trial court, the Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals issued an injunction preventing Sea Shepherd from attacking any of the Institute’s vessels in any way and from coming within 500 yards of any Institute vessel operating in the open sea.
  • Several whalers brought suit against Paul Watson and the Sea Shepard Society—of Animal Planet fame—under the Alien Tort Statute for acts that amounted to piracy and that violated international agreements regulating conduct on the high seas. Though the district court denied the whalers a preliminary injunction and dismissed the whalers' piracy claim, the Ninth Circuit found in favor for the whalers. The case was reversed and instructed to be transferred to another district judge; Circuit Judge Smith dissented on the instruction to transfer.

  • The Institute of Marine Mammal Studies (IMMS) brought action against the National Marine Fisheries Service (NMFS) and others, alleging that NMFS regulations did not properly implement the Marine Mammal Protection Act (MMPA), and that the NMFS was improperly administering placement list for rehabilitated sea lions that could not be reintroduced into the wild. Parties cross-moved for summary judgment. After considering the parties' arguments, the administrative record, and the relevant law, the District Court found that the IMMS lacked standing to bring its claim that NMFS regulations did not properly implement the Marine Mammal Protect Act ("MMPA"). Further, the Court found that it lacked subject matter jurisdiction of IMMS' claims that the NMFS was improperly administering a placement list for non-releasable sea lions. However, the Court found it may review the claims concerning the permit allowing IMMS to "take" sea lions. The Court found that a term included in IMMS' permit improperly delegated federal authority to third parties. The permit was therefore remanded to the agency for reconsideration. Each summary judgment motion was granted in part and denied in part.
  • Private individuals and organizations brought action seeking to be named guardians of medical research animals seized from organization whose chief was convicted of state animal cruelty statute violations. The United States District Court for the District of Maryland, John R. Hargrove, J., dismissed action, and individuals and organizations appealed. The Court of Appeals, Wilkinson, Circuit Judge, held that: (1) individuals and organizations lacked standing to bring action, and (2) Animal Welfare Act did not confer private cause of action. Case discussed in topic: US Animal Welfare Act.

  • Irvin Wilson, Sr. owns a corporation named Pet Paradise, Incorporated, which included a pet shop, also called Pet Paradise, specializing in exotic animals. The pet shop was operated by Irvin Wilson, Jr., who is now incarcerated on unrelated charges. Several inspections by the United States Department of Agriculture (USDA) resulted in a finding of 61 violations involving 27 of the regulations and standards promulgated pursuant to the Animal Welfare Act, 7 U.S.C. § 2131 et seq. The USDA imposed sanctions of a $5,000 fine and a suspension of the USDA license for 30 days or until compliance is shown. This court found no reason to disturb the sanctions imposed.
  • In this case, Degtiarov's unleashed dog attacked Irwin's dog without provocation. Though Irwin's dog survived, there were significant veterinary costs. Irwin brought this suit for damages in the form of veterinary costs, which were granted by the district court and affirmed by the appellate court. The sole issue on appeal considers whether damages should be capped at the market value of the dog, despite the reasonableness of the veterinary costs necessary to treat the dog's injuries. The appellate court affirms the damages for reasonable veterinary costs that were incurred for damage caused by a dog, even if these costs exceed the market or replacement value of the animal injured by the dog.
  • The appellant was a keeper of livestock who had shot and injured a neighbor's dog that had strayed into the appellant's pig pen. He had been convicted of doing an act causing unnecessary suffering to the dog contrary to the Protection of Animals Act 1911, s 1(1)(a) (second limb). Dismissing the appeal, the Divisional Court held that the local justices were entitled to find as a matter of fact that it had not been reasonably necessary to shoot the dog.

  • This is an action for damages for the deliberate killing of a dog by a Deputy Sheriff that was alleging terrorizing the neighborhood.  In finding for defendant-officer, the court noted that the consensus among the courts is that a vicious dog is a public nuisance and that governments and their agents have broad power to protect the public from these animals.  The court thus found the officer acted reasonably under the circumstances and had a qualified immunity defense.

  • The Legislature passed Assembly Bill 96 which took effect July 1, 2016 as Fish & Game Code section 2022. The bill imposed new restrictions on the sale and importation of ivory and rhinoceros horn. The Ivory Education (the Institute) sued the California Department of Fish and Wildlife (the Department) in order to block implementation of the law. The institute alleged that the statute was unconstitutional on multiple grounds including vagueness, federal preemption, the takings clause, and the commerce clause. The trial court entered judgment for the Department and the intervenor defendants (the Natural Resources Defense Council, the Center for Biological Diversity, the Humane Society of the United States, the International Fund for Animal Welfare, and the Wildlife Conservation Society). The Institute appealed and abandoned all other issues raised and limited its challenge to the void-for-vagueness doctrine. "The Institute contend[ed] that section 2022 [was] unconstitutionally vague for two reasons: 1) while it allows for the sale or import of ivory insofar as it is allowed by federal law, differences in what federal law allows make it nearly impossible to tell what would qualify for the exemption provided by section 2022(c)(c); and 2) there are no guidelines by which to determine the permissible volume of ivory in either musical instruments or antiques." The Court of Appeals stated that a statute is not vague if its meaning can be determined by looking at other sources of information. Those who wish to comply with section 2022 have a duty to locate and examine statutes or whatever else necessary to determine the scope of the exemption provision. "Section 2022 has a single purpose—to prevent the sale or importation of ivory and rhinoceros horn. Both of those terms are defined. The Institute has 'not demonstrated that attempts to give substance and meaning' to the three disputed exceptions 'would be fruitless.'" As for the Institute's second contention, the Court of Appeals stated that because musical instruments and antiques are tangible objects that occupy a verifiable amount of three-dimensional space, the percentage of any such object that has ivory in it can be readily determined. The Court of Appeals held that the statute was not vague. The Court affirmed the holding of the trial court.
  • Plaintiff appealed an order granting defendants' motion for summary judgment dismissing the complaint. The personal injury action arises from an incident where defendants' dog, who was barking at the time, jumped on the screen door causing the door to open, whereupon the dog ran out of the house. When the plaintiff turned to get away from the dog, her ankle twisted, causing her to fall on the steps and become injured. To recover in New York on such an action, a plaintiff must prove that the dog had vicious propensities and that the owner of the dog, or a person in control of the premises where the dog was, knew or should have known of such propensities. The court held that plaintiff did not raise a triable issue of fact as to whether the defendant was aware of the dog's alleged propensity to run out of the house and chase after people. Defendants' motion summary judgment and dismissal was affirmed.
  • Plaintiff filed suit against the defendant after she was bitten by the defendant’s cat and required medical attention as a result of the bite. Plaintiff found the defendant’s cat on her property and mistakenly started petting the cat, thinking that it was one of her own cats. As plaintiff was petting the cat, it bit her causing her injury. Plaintiff filed a negligence claim against defendant for not restraining the cat. The court held in favor of the defendant because the court found that this incident was not foreseeable and because it was not foreseeable, the defendant did not owe a duty to restrain the animal under the common law, municipal law, or state law.
  • Plaintiff appeals an order granting defendant's motion for summary judgment that dismissed her personal injury case. The plaintiff commenced this action after she was bitten by defendant's dog while working on a computer at defendant's house. This court found that summary judgment was not appropriate because the defendant warned plaintiff that the dog was possessive about her ball and not to touch it. These warnings along with the dog's actions with the ball may give rise to a finding that the defendant knew or should have known that the dog possessed a vicious propensity or a proclivity to act in a way that puts others at risk of harm.

  • Plaintiff was injured by defendants' dog after being knocked to the ground. The plaintiff had her dog over to defendants' house for a "doggie play date" and the dogs were running off-leash in the fenced yard.The lower court granted defendants' motion for summary judgment on plaintiff's claims of negligence and absolute liability, finding that the defendants had not prior knowledge of the dog's propensity to run into people. The Court found that there were genuine issues of material fact as to defendants' prior knowledge of the dog's proclivities to become "hyper" in the presence of other dogs. Thus, the decision to grant summary judgment was reversed and the matter remanded for trial. Notably, the Court did state that it shared "the motion judge's observation that plaintiff may well be comparatively at fault here for choosing to stand in the backyard while the three unleashed dogs ran around."

  • The Connecticut Siting Council granted Cellco Partnership a Certificate allowing the company to build a cell tower in Falls Village, Connecticut.   Dina Jaeger brought suit against Cellco and the Council to prevent the building of the cell tower.   In her complaint, Jaeger cited the harmful effects of radio frequency emissions (RF emissions), and alleged violations of the International Migratory Bird Treaty, the Migratory Bird Treaty Act (MBTA), the Bald and Golden Eagle Protection Act (BGEPA), the Telecommunications Act (TCA), and the 10 th and 14 th Amendments to the U.S. Constitution.   Defendants moved to dismiss Jaeger's claims on various grounds, including that the Council was preempted from considering the environmental effects of RF emissions under the TCA.   The Court found in favor of the Defendants, holding that the TCA preempts local and state regulation of cell towers solely on the basis of RF emissions.    

  • Defendant was charged with unnecessary suffering towards three horses found in terrible conditions. It was held that where a protected animal is found in distress, a veterinarian's certificate need not be in writing for a constable or inspector to exercise powers under Section 18 of the Animal Welfare Act 2006 (namely seizure and detention). Oral certification of suffering will suffice in certain circumstances, for example where the protected animal requires urgent treatment and there is not sufficient time to produce a written certificate.
  • Plaintiff dog owners sought review of an order of the Circuit Court of Cook County (Illinois), which dismissed their complaint against defendants, animal hospital and veterinarians, with prejudice. The trial court held that plaintiffs' complaint to recover damages for the loss of companionship they experienced as a result of the death of their dog failed to state a cause of action. The court affirmed the order of the trial court that dismissed the complaint filed by plaintiff dog owners against defendants, animal hospital and veterinarians. The court held that the law did not permit a dog owner to recover for the loss of companionship of a dog.

  • The respondent Janota-Bzowska was an invited guest at the home of the appellant Lewises, where another guest (appellant Holtzman) had tied his Labrador dog outside; the dog lunged at the respondent, causing her to fall and break her finger. A trial court earlier found both dog-owner and home-owners liable to Janota-Bzowska under the doctrines of scienter (strict liabilty) and negligence. On appeal, the court held that there was insufficient evidence to establish that the dog had a propensity to lunge at people, or that the owner knew of such propensity, although the dog was known to chase deer. However, this was not sufficient to allow recovery under scienter. On the issue of negligence, the court also held that the dog's behaviour being 'unexpected and out of character' showed no suggestion of a risk for which the owner had failed to take reasonable precautions, so there was no negligence shown.

  • Tenant brought action under the Federal Fair Housing Act alleging that her landlord failed to reasonably accommodate her mental disability by refusing to allow her to keep companion animals in her rental unit. Tenant put forth evidence establishing that the animals lessened the effects of her mental disability by providing companionship. The housing authority argued that only service dogs are a reasonable accommodation. The court rejected the housing authority's argument, holding that animals other than service animal can be a reasonable accommodation for a disability. Also, the court noted that whether an accommodation is reasonable is a fact-specific inquiry, requiring an analysis of the burdens imposed on the housing authority and the benefits to the disabled person.

  • Congress had granted the Secretary the authority to determine whether a foreign nation's whaling in excess of quotas diminished the effectiveness of the IWC, and the Court found no reason to impose a mandatory obligation upon the Secretary to certify that every quota violation necessarily failed that standard.

  • In an action, inter alia, to recover damages for veterinary malpractice, the plaintiffs appeal.  The court reaffirmed that it is well established that a pet owner in New York cannot recover damages for emotional distress caused by the negligent destruction of a dog.

  • In this Ohio case, the defendant was charged with violating ordinance setting maximum number of dogs or cats that a person could "harbor" per family dwelling unit.  The court first observed that the village of Jefferson's ordinance benefits from a strong presumption of constitutionality, and defendant Mirando bears the burden of demonstrating unconstitutionality of this ordinance beyond any remaining fair debate on the issue.  The court held that ordinance was not unconstitutionally vague and did not conflict with state statutes regulating kennels.

  • Defendant was convicted of misdemeanor animal cruelty. Defendant appealed, claiming ineffective assistance of counsel. The Supreme Court held that he was not entitled to a reversal, because he failed to demonstrate that his counsel failed to render reasonably competent assistance that prejudiced him to such an extent that he was deprived of a fair trial. The Court held that it was not ineffective assistance to 1) fail to object to testimony regarding defendant's arrest and incarceration, and 2) fail to object to defendant's brother testifying while wearing a striped prison suit.

  • Jippes, an ECJ case from 2001, involved a legal dispute over the hoof and mouth pandemic ravaging Europe at the time.  To stem spread of the disease, the EU passed a community directive banning the use of preventative vaccinations and mandating compulsory slaughter. The plaintiff—or “applicant,” as plaintiffs are referred to in Europe—owned a variety of farm animals, and, loathe to kill them,  argued that European law embraced a general principle that animals were shielded from physical pain and suffering. Such a principle, the applicant argued, could only be overridden when absolutely necessary; and the compulsory slaughter directive was in direct conflict with this principle. The ECJ, however, rejected the applicant’s argument, holding that the Animal Welfare Protocol of 1997 did not delineate any new important animal-friendly principles in European law, but merely codified old ones. 

  • An animal control employee lost her job due to the city’s decision to outsource the department to another city. Plaintiff sued the city on eleven counts, but lost due to the district court’s grant of the city’s motion for summary judgment. On appeal, the plaintiff lost on her First Amendment, American Disability Act, Utah Protection of Public Employees Act, and breach of contract claims.

  • Although he has never been prosecuted or threatened with prosecution under the District of Columbia's Animal Control Act, plaintiff, an animal rights activist, challenges a provision that reads: “No person shall knowingly and falsely deny ownership of any animal.” D.C.Code § 8–1808(b). Plaintiff asserts that he desires to give speeches in the District of Columbia about why he opposes treating animals as property, and in such speeches he would like to deny ownership of his dog. However, he alleges that he does not do so because he is deterred by D.C.Code § 8–1808(b). Plaintiff therefore sued the District of Columbia to obtain declaratory and injunctive relief, arguing the statute violated his First Amendment right to free speech. The District Court, however, found that plaintiff lacked standing because he presented no concrete evidence to substantiate his fears of prosecution, but rather rests his claims on mere conjecture about possible governmental actions. Such hypothetical fears cannot form the basis for standing under Article III of the US Constitution. The defendant's motion to dismiss was therefore granted and the plaintiff's motion for summary judgment was therefore dismissed.
  • Plaintiff appealed an order denying her claim to emotional distress damages presumably for the death of her dog.  The court held that it is well established that a pet owner in New York cannot recover damages for emotional distress caused by the negligent killing of a dog.

  • After a repairman was injured by a dog that grabbed his leg through his jeans and made him fall from a ladder, the victim sued the owners under the dog bite statute, Civ. Code, § 3342. The court held that the statute applied, even though the plaintiff was not wounded by the bite. The word “bite” did not require a puncture or tearing away of the skin.

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