Cases

  • 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.
  • This case concerns the regulatory authority of the Missouri Conservation Commission ("Commission"), which has authority over the control, management, restoration, conservation, and regulation of the bird, fish, game, forestry and all wildlife resources of the state. The respondents in this case operate different selective breeding and private hunting facilities that rely on captive bred deer and elk (“cervids”). Respondent Hill co-owns the Oak Creek Whitetail Ranch which is a large hunting preserve and white-tailed deer breeding operation. Respondent Broadway owns a hunting preserve which offers three-day guided hunts of a variety of animals, including elk. Broadway also has a deer breeding operation. Respondent Grace owns a breeding facility for white-tailed deer, sika, and red deer. The respondents cannot operate their hunting preserves and captive breeding facilities without permits from the Missouri Department of Conservation, which all respondents have. Cervids can be infected with a fatal neurodegenerative disease known as chronic wasting disease (CWD). The first detection of the disease in Missouri was at Heartland Wildlife Ranches, which was eventually purchased by Respondent Broadway and renamed Winter Quarters Wildlife Ranch. Due to this, the Missouri Conservation Commission set up surveillance within 25 miles of the facility. From 2010 to 2013 the Commission found 10 free-ranging deer infected with CWD out of the 14,000 tested in the surveillance zone. Over the next three years the Commission detected CWD in 14 free-ranging deer, several of which were found near closed or currently operating captive cervid facilities. Attempting to eradicate CWD, the Commission proposed a series of regulatory amendments that were to take effect in January of 2015. The amendments were aimed at the captive cervid industry. The regulations relevant to this case banned the importation of cervids, imposed more rigorous fencing requirements, and imposed more rigorous recordkeeping and veterinary inspection requirements. Respondents brought an action suing the Appellants (the Missouri Conservation Commission) to prevent these regulations from going into effect. At trial, the circuit court declared that the regulations were invalid and enjoined the Commission from enforcing them. On appeal, the Commission raised three arguments. First, the Commission contends that the circuit court erred because Respondents’ cervids are “game” and “wildlife resources of the state” and, therefore, can be regulated by the Commission under the Missouri Constitution. Second, the Commission contends that the circuit court erred because the Commission’s authority to promulgate the regulations does not implicate or infringe on the Respondents’ rights to farm. Third, the Commission contends that the circuit court erred by enjoining the Commission’s enforcement of the new regulations against all people in Missouri, rather than only against the Respondents. The Respondents contend that captive cervids are not wildlife or game even though they are wild by nature because they are too domesticated and, therefore, akin to livestock. The Court rejects this contention and looks at the plain meaning of the terms “game” and “wildlife” and concludes that both terms plainly include all species that are wild by nature. The terms are not ambiguous. The Court points out that it would be unreasonable to hold that the Commission has constitutional authority to regulate individual cervids that are born free and still free-roaming but take away that authority when an individual cervid is considered domesticated. “The Court will not give a law a construction which would render it unreasonable when it is susceptible to a reasonable one.” Furthermore, historically, the term “game” was broad enough to embrace all kinds of deer whether tame or wild. Captive cervids are therefore considered “game” and “wildlife” and the Commission has authority under the Missouri Constitution to regulate Respondents’ captive cervids. Respondent’ second contention is that they own the captive cervids and, therefore, the cervids are not resources of the state. The Court rejects this contention. The Commission has always regulated deer and elk owned by private parties. The Court holds that the phrase “resources of the state” unambiguously refers to resources within the entire geographical boundaries of the state. Therefore, Respondents’ cervids are considered resources of the state. The Court agrees with the Commission’s second contention that the regulations did not infringe on Respondents’ right to farm. Respondents failed to show that they are engaged in farming and ranching practices and, therefore, cannot invoke the guarantee of the Missouri Constitution. The Court did not reach the Commission’s third contention. Ultimately the Court reversed the circuit court’s judgment in favor of Respondents and entered judgment in favor of Appellants on both counts.
  • 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.

  • The Plaintiff owns and operates an apartment complex with a policy that prohibits defendants from keeping a dog on the premises. The Defendant, Bonesteel, began renting an apartment at Plaintiff's complex in 2011 under a one-year lease. Defendant continued to renew his one-year lease for additional one-year terms until 2014. Defendant's therapist sent a letter to the Plaintiff requesting an exception to the no dog policy so that the Defendant could have an emotional support animal. The Plaintiff denied the request but stated that it would allow a bird or cat or an early termination of Defendant's lease. The Plaintiff filed an action seeking a judgment declaring that the Plaintiff's refusal to permit the Defendant to have an emotional support dog was not in violation of the Fair Housing Act (FHA) and the Human Rights Law (HRL). The Plaintiff subsequently reduced the Defendant's lease renewal term to three months. The Defendant filed counterclaims on grounds of discrimination. The Supreme Court of New York also granted a motion allowing the Attorney General to intervene. The Attorney General asserted counterclaims on similar grounds to those raised by the Defendant. After a nonjury trial, the trial court issued a judgment that the Plaintiff's actions did not violate the FHA and the HRL. The Defendant then appealed. On appeal, the Supreme Court addressed the question of whether the Plaintiff's claims were justiciable even though the matter was not raised by the parties. Since the Plaintiff had already denied the Defendant's request for an exception to the policy when it filed the action and no harm to the Plaintiff occurred or was impending, it was essentially asking the Court to issue an advisory opinion which is not an exercise of judicial function. Therefore, the Court dismissed the Plaintiff's declaratory judgment. The Court then considered the Defendant's counterclaims since concrete injuries were alleged. The only two arguments addressed were whether the Defendant actually had a qualifying disability within the meaning of the FHA and the HRL and whether the accommodation requested was necessary to afford the Defendant an equal opportunity to use and enjoy his dwelling. The Court concluded that the Defendant met his burden to establish that he is disabled within the meaning of the FHA and HRL. The Court also found that the Defendant "offered sufficient evidence that having an emotional support dog would affirmatively enhance his quality of life by ameliorating the effects of his disability, and thus demonstrated necessity within the meaning of the FHA and the HRL." Lastly, the Court found that the Plaintiff retaliated against the Defendant by reducing his lease renewal terms to three months. Accordingly, Defendant was entitled to judgment in his favor on the retaliation counterclaims.
  • 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.
  • An engaged, live-in couple purchased a dog together and listed both of their names on the American Kennel Club registration.  While speaking to his girlfriend about ending the relationship, the boyfriend promised her that she could keep the dog, but failed to fulfill that promise; the court required specific enforcement of that promise. In addition, the court found that dogs possess special subjective value similar to "heirlooms, family treasures, and works of art."

  • A mother renting housing alleged that her son was "mentally challenged" and required the companionship of a dog pursuant to Section 504 of the Rehabilitation Act. The court rejected the tenant's allegations that her son had a qualifying mental disability, reasoning that the son received high marks in school prior to the commencing of the eviction proceedings. The court held that without evidence of a mental or physical disability, no reasonable accommodation is required.

  • While cleaning a cage at a chimpanzee sanctuary, the plaintiff was twice attacked by a chimpanzee, which left the plaintiff without much of her thumb. Plaintiff brought a suit against the sanctuary based on claims of strict liability; under a statute and common law; negligence; and gross negligence. At the district court, the plaintiff lost because she had signed a waiver releasing the sanctuary from liability "on all claims for death, personal injury, or property damage" and because she failed to state a claim in regards to the gross negligence charge. In affirming the lower court's decision, the appellate court found an enforceable contract existed with the waiver, and that there was no evidence of reckless disregard on defendant's part to rise to the level of gross negligence.

  • As the result of a dog bite on the defendant’s rental property, the plaintiff suffered a torn cheek and irreparable damage to her ear. The plaintiff therefore attempted to recover damages from the defendant on the common law theory of negligence and through Illinois’ Animal Control Act. The trial court, however, dismissed the Animal Control Act claim and, later, granted the defendant’s motion for summary judgment on the negligence claim. Upon appeal, the appellate court affirmed the lower court’s decision, though it stated a motion for summary judgment was more appropriate then the motion to dismiss for the Animal Control Act claim.   
  • In this Georgia case, the plaintiff was injured from being bitten by defendants' dog who was chained to the bed of their pickup truck while the defendants were inside an adjacent restaurant. The plaintiff sued defendants, claiming that they failed to warn her of their dog's dangerous propensities and that they committed negligence per se by violating the state's strict liability statute (OCGA § 51-2-7) and the Hall County Animal Control Ordinance. A jury found in favor of the defendants. The court found that the evidence was therefore more than sufficient to support the jury's conclusion that defendants' dog was “under restraint” for purposes of the ordinance. Further, there was no evidence that the owners had knowledge of the dog's vicious propensity. Affirmed.

  • The Oklahoma statute at issue prohibited transporting or shipping outside the State for sale natural minnows seined or procured from waters within the State. Appellant, who held a Texas license to operate a commercial minnow business in Texas, was charged with violating the Oklahoma statute by transporting from Oklahoma to Texas a load of natural minnows purchased from a minnow dealer licensed to do business in Oklahoma.  In overruling Geer v. Connecticut, the Court held that the Oklahoma statute on its face discriminated against interstate commerce by forbidding the transportation of natural minnows out of the State for purposes of sale, and thus overtly blocking the flow of interstate commerce at the State's border.

  • This Pennsylvania case involves an appeal by allowance from orders of Superior Court which affirmed an order of the Court of Common Pleas of Schuylkill County and imposed counsel fees and costs upon the appellants, Clayton Hulsizer and the Pennsylvania Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals (PSPCA). Hulsizer, an agent of the PSPCA, filed this action in equity seeking injunctive and declaratory relief against the appellee, Labor Day Committee, Inc., for their role in conducting an annual pigeon shoot. Hulsizer sought to have appellee enjoined from holding the shoot, alleging that it violates the cruelty to animals statute. At issue is whether Hulsizer has standing to bring an enforcement action in Schuylkill County. This court found no inconsistency in reading Section 501 and the HSPOEA (Humane Society Police Officer Enforcement Act) together as statutes that are in pari materia. Since the HSPOEA does not limit the jurisdiction of humane society police officers by requiring them to apply separately to the courts of common pleas in every county in Pennsylvania, the officer had standing to bring an enforcement action. The lower court's orders were reversed.
  • Court decided that the type of branding mandated by Secretary of Agriculture constitutes cruelty to animals because other less painful and equally effective alternatives exist and therefore freed dairy farmers to use other branding methods like freeze branding.

  • In this appeal, the Humane Society of the United States (HSUS) challenged a series of actions by the Fish and Wildlife Service to allow hunting on some of America's national wildlife refuges. The District Court held that HSUS failed to satisfy the Supreme Court's requirements for associational standing because the 'recreational' interest of Society members was not germane to the group's self-described mission of insuring the humane treatment of animals and other wildlife. The Court of Appeals reversed the district court's finding that the Humane Society had no standing to challenge the hunt openings, and remanded the action to allow HSUS to pursue its challenge to the introduction of hunting. This Court did affirm the district court's finding on the merits that the Wildlife Service complied with NEPA when it permitted hunting at the Chincoteague preserve. Affirmed in part and reversed in part.

  • In order to manage sea lion predation of salmonids at the Bonneville Dam, the NMFS decided to authorize agencies from Washington, Oregon, and Idaho to lethally remove sea lions that were not protected by the ESA when efforts to deter their feeding on salmonids failed. The Humane Society of the United States, Wild Fish Conservancy, Bethanie O'Driscoll, and Andrea Kozil disagreed and sued the NMFS; the agencies of Washington, Oregon, and Idaho intervened. Finding that the NMFS’s authorizations did not conflict with the MMPA’s protection of Stella Sea Lions, that the NMFS complied with the National Environmental Protection Act, and that the NMFS did not act arbitrarily and capriciously when it issued the authorizations, the district court granted the NMFS’s and the state agencies’ cross motion for summary judgment. The case was therefore dismissed.

  • The Humane Society of the United States sought an injunction to prevent the lethal depredation of gray wolves. The district court granted the injunction but, while the case was on appeal, the United States Department of the Interior removed the gray wolf from the Endangered Species List.  After the gray wolf was removed from the Endangered Species List, all parties agreed that the delisting of the gray wolf rendered the appeal moot.  The Court of Appeals vacated the district court's ruling.

  • Environmental groups brought challenge under the Endangered Species Act (ESA) against a Rule promulgated by the Fish and Wildlife Service (FWS) designating a particular geographic group of gray wolves as a “distinct population segment” (DPS) and removing the particular group from the endangered species list. The United States District Court, District of Columbia, held that the ESA is ambiguous with respect to whether the ESA permits FWS to use the DPS tool to remove ESA protections from a healthy sub-population of a listed species, and that the FWS rule was not entitled to Chevron deference, because the plain meaning of the statute is silent and/or ambiguous as to the particular issue at hand and there is no permissible agency construction to which the Court could defer.   Lastly, the Court found that vacatur of the FWS Rule prior to remand was appropriate, because of the FWS’ failure to explain how its interpretation of the ESA comported with the policy objectives of the ESA, and because vacatur would result in very little to no confusion or inefficiency.
  • The National Marine Fisheries Service (NMFS) authorized several states to kill California sea lions under section 120 of the Marine Mammal Protection Act (MMPA), which allows the intentional lethal taking of individually identifiable pinnipeds. Plaintiffs filed action for declaratory and injunctive relief against Defendants. The Court held that NMFS 1) did not adequately explain its finding that sea lions were having a “significant negative impact” on the decline or recovery of listed salmonid populations; and 2) NMFS did not adequately explain why a California sea lion predation rate of 1 percent would have a significant negative impact on the decline or recovery of these salmonid populations. Therefore, the agency's action was “arbitrary, capricious, an abuse of discretion, or otherwise not in accordance with law.” under the Administrative Procedure Act.

  • This case was brought the Humane Society of the United States and various coalitions of homeowner/citizens against the United States Secretary of the Interior and the Director of the Fish and Wildlife Service to prevent the implementation of defendants' decision to permit limited public deer hunting on a national wildlife refuge in Fairfax County, Virginia. On cross motions for final judgment on the record, the District Court held that the suit under Endangered Species Act was precluded by failure to give proper presuit notice. The court stated that the ESA clearly states that “written notice” of the violation must be given to the Secretary and to the violator as a condition precedent to suit. The court also found that the FWS's decision took account of relevant factors and thus was not arbitrary or capricious.

  • In this New York case, the petitioners, various organizations and individuals generally opposed to the production of foie gras (a product derived from the enlarged livers of ducks and geese who were force fed prior to slaughter) submitted a petition to respondent Department of Agriculture and Markets seeking a declaration that foie gras is an adulterated food product within the meaning of Agriculture and Markets Law §§ 200. The respondent Commissioner of Agriculture and Markets refused to issue a statement to the requested declaration. On review to this court, petitioners sought a judicial pronouncement that foie gras is an adulterated food product. This court held that petitioners lacked standing because they did not suffer an injury within the zone of interests protected by State Administrative Procedure Act §§ 204.

  • The applicant, an incorporated public interest organisation, sought an injunction to restrain the respondent Japanese company which owned several ocean vessels engaged in, and likely to further engage in, whaling activities in waters claimed by Australia. It was found that the applicant had standing to bring the injunction and the respondent engaged in activities prohibited by the Environment Protection and Biodiversity Conservation Act 1999 (Cth). Orders were entered against against the respondent even though it had no assets in Australia and the likelihood of being able to enforce judgment was very low.

  • The Humane Society submitted two Freedom of Information Act requests to the Animal and Plant Health Inspection Service. One was for site-inspection reports and the other was for inspection records for specific animal dealers and exhibitors. The Service released nine pages of inspection records in full but redacted information from the other 127 pages citing FOIA exemptions 6 and 7 that deal with privacy concerns. The Humane Society alleged that the redactions were improper and both parties filed Cross-Motions for Summary Judgment. The Court found that the bulk of the Service’s redactions were improper under exemption 6 because the information did not implicate a licensee’s personal privacy interests. Exemption 6 was meant to protect individuals from public disclosure of intimate details of their lives. Details about a business’ compliance with regulations and statutes does not relate to intimate personal details. It only relates to business activities. Information about business judgments and relationships do not qualify for redaction. However, a substantial privacy interest is anything greater than a de minimus privacy interest and the licensees and third-parties had more than a de minimus privacy interest in their names, addresses, and contact information. The licensees were also homestead businesses meaning that the location of their business also served as their residence. The Court weighed the privacy interest in non-disclosure against the public interest in the release of the records and ultimately found that although the licensees and third parties had a substantial privacy interest in their names, addresses, and contact information, they only had a de minimus privacy interest in the other information that they withheld from the reports. If no significant privacy interest is implicated, FOIA demands disclosure. The service was required to disclose all reasonably segregable portions of the records that do not include identifying information. The Court found the Humane Society’s argument unpersuasive that releasing the addresses of the licensees would serve the public interest. The Service properly withheld the licensees’ addresses and names of third-party veterinarians. Exemption 7 allows for agencies to withhold information compiled for law enforcement purposes, but only to the extent that the production of those law enforcement records could reasonably be expected to constitute an unwarranted invasion of personal privacy. The Humane Society argued that inspection reports are not compiled for law enforcement purposes because the existence of such a report does not, on its face, reveal that there is any particular enforcement or investigatory action occurring. The Court found that the inspection records relate to the Service’s responsibility to enforce the AWA and ensure that licensees are in compliance, therefore, there was a nexus between the reports and the Service’s law enforcement duties. The Court also conducted the same balancing test that they did with exemption 6 and held that the Service releasing information other than the licensees’ addresses and third parties’ names could not reasonably be expected to constitute an unwarranted invasion of personal privacy. The Service properly withheld the licensees’ addresses and contact information and despite the Service’s improper withholding of dates, inspection narratives, animal inventories, etc., the Court found that they had otherwise met their burden of releasing all reasonably segregable information. Both the Plaintiff’s and Defendant’s Cross-Motions for Summary Judgment were granted in part and denied in part.
  • The Humane Society of the United States sued to overturn the United States Fish and Wildlife Service's 2012 Final Rule to delist the Great Lakes gray wolves from the endangered species list. The US District Court called the 2012 Final Rule "arbitrary and capricious" under the Administrative Procedure Act and in violation of the Endangered Species Act. The District Court thus relisted the wolves and placed them back under the control of the United States Fish and Wildlife Service in Michigan, Wisconsin, and Minnesota.

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