Cases

  • This Oregon case considers, as an issue of first impression, whether the emergency aid exception to the warrant requirement applies to animals in need of immediate assistance. Defendant appealed her conviction for second-degree animal neglect (ORS 167.325) based on the condition of her horse. The court found that the emergency aid exception extends to nonhuman animals when law enforcement officers have an objectively reasonable belief that the search or seizure is necessary to render immediate aid or assistance to animals which are imminently threatened with suffering, serious physical injury or cruel death. Here, the deputy sheriff found that the horse was more emaciated than any other horse he had ever seen and there were signs of possible organ failure.

  • Under a statute that allowed an officer to impound animals without a warrant if exigent circumstances exist, fifteen unconfined cats, who were roaming around a vehicle, were impounded. At a hearing to ratify the impoundment, the court found a large number of unconfined cats that obstructed the defendant's view for driving constituted exigent circumstances under SDCL 40-1-5. After a motion was granted to transfer ownership of the cats to a local humane society for adoption, the defendant appealed. The appeals court affirmed the lower court’s decision.

  • Defendant, who pleaded guilty to 2 counts of dogfighting, challenged the constitutionality of the dogfighting statute and appealed a court-imposed forfeiture of cash and other seized items. The Court of Appeals ruled that: (1) dogfighting statute was not unconstitutionally vague or overbroad; (2) statute did not violate equal protection or constitute cruel and unusual punishment on ground that violation constitutes fourth-degree felony while violation of statute prohibiting other animal fights is only a fourth-degree misdemeanor; and (3) despite guilty plea, forfeiture of cash and other items was erroneous absent establishment of direct connection with defendant's illegal dogfighting activities.

  • This case considers whether the trial court erred when it dismissed the felony count of unjustifiably killing an animal based on lack of probable cause. The incident stems from the killing of the neighbors' cat with a shotgun by defendant-respondent. At trial, he filed a motion to dismiss for lack of probable cause that was accompanied by a notarized affidavit of the responding police deputy stating the shooting of the cat was "justified." The trial court dismissed the complaint finding insufficient evidence that respondent had unjustifiably killed the cat. On appeal, the court found the district court's reliance on the deputy's lay opinion was improper. The court found it was within the jury's province to determine whether respondent's actions were justified or unjustified based on the evidence at trial.

  • After stabbing and slicing a dog to death, defendant was indicted for felonious cruelty to animals and conspiracy to commit felonious cruelty to animals. She was tried and found guilty of both counts before a jury. The trial court sentenced defendant to a term of 5 to 15 months for the felonious cruelty to animal conviction, and 4 to 14 months for the conspiracy conviction with both sentences suspended for a term of 18 months probation. Defendant appealed on the basis that the trial court erred on its instructions to the jury. After careful consideration, the North Carolina Court of Appeals held that the trial court properly instructed the jury according to the North Carolina pattern jury instructions. Further, the trial court responded appropriately to the question posed by the jury regarding the jury instructions. Accordingly, the appeals court held that the defendant received a fair, error-free trial. Judge Ervin concurs in part and concurs in result in part by separate opinion.
  • The Appellant State of Oklahoma appeals the Grant County District Court's granting of defendant's motion to quash counts 2-13 of Cruelty to Animals violation of 21 O.S.2011, § 1685. Defendant was charged with 13 counts of animal cruelty stemming from maltreatment of 13 dogs at his property. Evidence at the preliminary hearing showed that two of the dogs were chained to small, metal shelters, and 11 were individually penned, all in 100 degree heat. No dogs had adequate water and rotting carcasses were found within reach of the dogs. According to responding veterinarians, all dogs were extremely dehydrated and in need of immediate medical care and one dog had gone into shock (it later died). Most of the dogs were malnourished and poorly conditioned with parasite-infested wounds. At district court, defendant argued that he could only be charged with a single count of Cruelty to Animals because the dogs were found all in one location and had been abandoned for approximately the same time period. The district court acquiesced and granted defendant's motion to quash, finding no caselaw on point. On appeal, the Supreme Court found the district court's interpretation of 21 O.S.2011, § 1685 wrong as a matter of law. The section repeatedly use the phrase "any animal" to show that the intent to address acts of abuse against any particular animal. The Court observed that the state filed a count for each of the dogs at defendant's property because each dog needed to be separately fed and watered. "Gilchrist deprived all thirteen dogs of the food, water and shelter necessary to avoid the grotesque suffering observed at the scene." Thus, the Court found the district court abused its discretion in granting defendant's motion to quash.
  • This case involved an appeal from this conviction. The trial court found that the defendant rode the animal while it had a deep ulcerated cut on its back, and supplied it with insufficient food. The Oregon Supreme Court affirmed the conviction.

  • In this Ohio case, defendant Graves appeals his misdemeanor cruelty to animals conviction under R.C. 959.13(A)(3). The conviction stems from an incident in 2016 where Graves left his dog in locked and sealed van while he went into a grocery store. According to the facts, the van was turned off in an unshaded spot with windows closed on a 90+ degree day. Witnesses at the scene called police after they engaged in an unsuccessful attempt to get defendant to leave the store. In total, the dog spent about 40-45 minutes locked in the van. Graves was issued a citation for cruelty to animals and later convicted at a bench trial. On appeal, Graves first asserts that R.C. 959.13(A)(3) is unconstitutional because the statute is void for vagueness as applied to him and overbroad. This court found that the definition of cruelty was not so unclear that it could not be reasonably understood by Graves. The court was unconvinced by appellant's arguments that the statute provided insufficient guidance to citizens, and left open relevant question such as length of time a dog can be left unattended, exact weather conditions, and issues of the size of dogs left in vehicles. The court noted that most statutes deal with "unforeseen circumstances" and do not spell out details with "scientific precision." In fact, the court noted "[t]he danger of leaving an animal locked in a sealed vehicle in hot and humid conditions is well-known." Additionally, the court did not find the law to be overbroad, as defendant's right to travel was not infringed by the law. Finally, defendant contends that his conviction was against the manifest weight of the evidence. In rejecting this argument, the court found Graves acted recklessly under the law based on the hot and humid weather conditions and the fact that humans outside the van were experiencing the effects of extreme heat. Thus, the lower court's judgment was affirmed.
  • Appeal of a conviction in district court for cruelty to animals.  Defendant was convicted of cruelty to animals after having been found to have recklessly caused and allowed his dog to kill two cats, and he appealed. The Court of Appeals held that forfeiture of defendant's dog was an impermissible condition of probation.

  • Defendant moved to suppress evidence after being charged with multiple counts of animal neglect. The Court of Appeals held that the warrant affidavit permitted reasonable inference that neglect continued to exist at time of warrant application. The warrant affiant stated her observations four months prior to the warrant application that horses appeared to be malnourished and severely underweight.

  • Defendant's dogs were released by owner, resulting in their attack of a neighbor's dog and its subsequent death.  On appeal, the conviction was reversed for failure to show owner had knowledge of vicious propensity.

  • Defendant appealed a conviction for attempted involvement in animal fighting, arguing that the statutes at issue were unconstitutionally vague.  Since the defendant admitted he knowingly was among spectators at farm hosting a cockfighting event, the Court of Appeals held that a person of common intelligence could discern that defendant's conduct constituted a substantial step toward involvement in animal fighting.

  • A man was charged with failing to maintain a proper fence to contain his cattle.  Despite the man's efforts to fix the fence when notified his cattle had gone through it, the trial court found the man guilty on three counts of willfully permitting livestock to run at large.  The Court of Appeals affirmed the trial court's conviction.

  • In this Oregon case, defendant appeals his conviction of first-degree animal neglect. Specifically, defendant argues the denial of his motion to suppress evidence was erroneous. The evidence was obtained when the local sheriff (Glerup) entered defendant's property to administer emergency aid to defendant's cattle. During testimony in the motion to suppress, Glerup testified that he first received a call from defendant's neighbors who reported that the cattle appeared to be "starving." That neighbor even called defendant, who assured her that the cattle "were okay" and being cared for by a hired person. Sheriff Glerup called that individual who stated he had not been hired and defendant had been gone a week. The sheriff subsequently received a call that the cattle were in need of immediate aid and in poor condition. These conditions prompted the warrantless search. On appeal, defendant argues that the trial court erroneously denied his motion to suppress where the state failed to establish that the warrantless entry was justified under an exception to the warrant requirement. In doing so, defendant contends that the case establishing that the emergency aid doctrine applies to animals (Fessenden) was wrongly decided. This argument was dispensed by the court because it was not properly preserved at trial. Alternatively, defendant argues that the state failed to satisfy the requirements for the emergency aid exception. In reviewing defendant's claim, the court noted that in Fessenden, the emergency aid doctrine justifies warrantless activity, “when law enforcement officers have an objectively reasonable belief, based on articulable facts, that the search or seizure is necessary to render immediate aid or assistance to animals . . ." In this case, the court found that the officer's belief that immediate aid was necessary where the cattle appeared to be "near death" was reasonable. Thus, the trial court did not err when it denied defendant's motion to suppress; defendant's conviction was affirmed.
  • The defendant, Michael Jacobs, was convicted of unlawful sexual conduct with a minor and corrupting another minor with drugs, receiving a prison sentence of four years. The victim testified with a “companion dog” at her feet. Among other assignments of error, Jacobs argued that he was denied his right to a fair trial because of the presence of the companion dog during the victim’s testimony. The child was under 15 at the time of the alleged abuse, but 17 years old when she testified. The Ohio appellate court concluded that the use of a companion dog in such a case was a matter of first impression in the state, though other comfort items, such as teddy bears had previously been used in similar situations in Ohio courts. To the defense’s objection that the witness was no longer under 15 at the time of her testimony, the appellate court stated that the defense had “failed to offer any authority to support the proposition that there is a certain age cut-off for the use of special procedures on behalf of alleged sexual abuse victims.” The court concluded that Ohio Evidence Rule 611(A), which provides that a trial court is to exercise “reasonable control over the mode and order of interrogating witnesses…” and to “protect witnesses from harassment or undue embarrassment,” was sufficiently flexible to allow the use of the dog during the trial. Having overruled all of Jacobs' assignments of error, the court affirmed the judgment of the Summit County Court of Common Pleas.
  • Defendant was convicted of convicted of two counts of mistreatment of a livestock animal in violation of Neb.Rev.Stat. § 54–903(2) (Reissue 2010) and four counts of neglect of a livestock animal in violation of § 54–903(1). Defendant owned and maintained a herd of over 100 horses in Burt County, Nebraska. After receiving complaints, the local sheriff's office investigated the herd. An expert veterinarian witness at trial testified that approximately 30% of the herd scored very low on the scale measuring a horse's condition and there were several deceased horses found with the herd. On appeal, defendant argued that there was insufficient evidence to support several of his convictions. Specifically, defendant challenged whether the state proved causation and intent under the statute. The court found that the prosecution proved through testimony that defendant caused the death of the horses subject to two of the convictions. With regard to intent, the court found that the evidence showed it would have taken weeks or month for a horse to reach to the low levels on the scale. The court found that defendant was aware of the declining condition of the herd over a significant amount of time, and failed to adequately feed, water, or provide necessary care to his horses. The convictions were affirmed.
  • A defendant was convicted in district court of violating a city ordinance by keeping a vicious dog.  The Court of Appeals held that the word "trespasser" in the city ordinance was to be used in its ordinary context, that a child who rode his bicycle onto the defendant's driveway was a trespasser, that there were no issues of consent involved, and that the trespasser exception applied even to areas on the defendant's property where the dog was not under the owner's control.

  • In this Connecticut case, defendant, Delano Josephs appeals his judgment of conviction of a single violation of § 53–247(a). The incident stems from Defendant's shooting of his neighbor's cat with a BB gun. A witness heard the discharge of the BB gun, then saw a man he recognized as defendant walking with a BB gun in his hands in a "stalking" manner. Over a week later, defendant's neighbor noticed blood on her cat's shoulder and brought her cat to the veterinarian who found three or four metal objects that resembled BBs near the cat's spine. After receiving this diagnosis, the cat's owner reported to police that her neighbor was "shooting her cats." Animal control officers then interviewed defendant who admitted he has a BB gun and shoots at cats to scare them away, but "he had no means of hurting any cats." At the trial level, defendant raised the argument that § 53–247(a) requires specific intent to harm an animal. The trial court disagreed, finding the statute requires only a general intent to engage in the conduct. On appeal, defendant argues that since he was convicted under the "unjustifiably injures" portion of § 53–247(a), the trial court applied the wrong mens rea for the crime. In reviewing the statute, this court observed that the use of the term "unjustifiably" by the legislature is meant to distinguish that section from the section that says "intentionally." Thus, the legislature use of two different terms within the same subsection convinced the court that clause under which defendant was convicted is only a general intent crime. On defendant's void for vagueness challenge, the court found that this unpreserved error did not deprive him of a fair trial. A person of ordinary intelligence would understand that shooting a cat for trespassing is not a justifiable act. While the court agreed with defendant that "unjustifiably injures" is susceptible to other interpretations, in the instant case, defendant conduct in killing a companion animal is not permitted under this or other related laws. The judgment was affirmed.
  • Appeal from a district court decision relating to mental state requirements of an animal owner.  The Court of Appeals reversed a district court finding which required a higher mental state than negligence in violation of a statute which provides that the owner or custodian of an animal or livestock shall not "permit" animal to run at large. The Court of Appeals found that the offense does not require a culpable mental state.

  • After receiving a call to investigate a complaint of the smell of dead bodies, a health department specialist found defendant burying sixteen to twenty-one garbage bags filled with decaying cats in her backyard (later investigations showed there were about 200 dead cats total). Defendant also housed 35-38 cats in her home, some of whom suffered from serious illnesses. Because the humane officer concluded that defendant failed to provide proper shelter for the cats by commingling the healthy and the sick ones, he charged her with thirty-eight counts of animal cruelty, in violation of N.J.S.A. 4:22-17, one for each of the thirty-eight cats found in her home. While defendant claimed that she was housing the cats and attempting to nurse them back to health so they could be adopted out, the court found sufficient evidence that "commingling sick animals with healthy ones and depriving them of ventilation when it is particularly hot inside is failing both directly and indirectly to provide proper shelter."

  • A cruelty to animals case. The State alleged that the appellees tortured four dogs by leaving them without food and water, resulting in their deaths. Examining section 42.09 of the Texas Penal Code, Cruelty to Animals, the Court found that “torture” did not include failure to provide necessary food, care, or shelter. The Court held that the criminal act of failing provide food, care and shelter does not constitute the felony offense of torture.

  • Defendants Rory and Robby Kuenzi charged a herd of 30 to 40 deer with their snowmobiles, cruelly killing four by running them over, dragging them, and leaving one tied to a tree to die. The two men were charged with a Class I felony under Wisconsin § 951.02, which prohibits any person from “treat[ing] any animal ... in a cruel manner.” The Court concluded that the definition of “animal” included non-captive wild animals and rejected the defendants’ argument that they were engaged in “hunting.” The court reinstated the charges against the men.

  • A married couple owned a pet dog that had a history of injuring other dogs.  The married couple's dog injured a neighbors dog and, under a Nebraska Statute, was ordered to be destroyed.  The Supreme Court of Nebraska reversed the decision holding the penalty was unreasonable.

  • The trial court convicted defendant of first degree theft after he freed dolphins from a university laboratory. The court affirmed the conviction on appeal. It reasoned that the choice of evils defense was unavailable to defendant because the definition of "another" under Hawaii statute clearly did not include dolphins.

  • Defendant shot and killed two hunting dogs, estimated to be worth $5,000 to $8,000 each, who were chasing deer across his property. The defendant was later convicted by the jury under the first degree malicious mischief felony for “knowingly and maliciously ... [causing] physical damage to the property of another in an amount exceeding one thousand five hundred dollars.”  On appeal, the court upheld the jury’s conviction because the defendant had no right to kill the dogs chasing deer across his property and because the prosecution was allowed to charge under the first degree malicious mischief felony for “knowingly and maliciously ... [causing] physical damage to the property of another in an amount exceeding one thousand five hundred dollars.”

  • Appellant, Cheryl Mallis, appealed the judgment of the Youngstown Municipal Court convicting her on one count of failure to confine a vicious dog and one count of failure to confine a dog. She was originally charged with two counts of violating the vicious-dog statute, R.C. 955.22(D)(1), and she moved to have those charges dismissed prior to trial. The motion was overruled, and appellant now challenges that ruling on appeal. The Court of Appeals held that the state could not prosecute the dog owner for failure to confine a vicious dog under the vicious dog statute since the statute had previously been declared by the Supreme Court to be unconstitutional on its face and had not been amended or modified thereafter.

  • Defendant was charged with a violation of Arkansas law when he hunted squirrels and took fish from a pond on his own land. The trial court found defendant not guilty. On appeal, the court held that the acquittal was justified. The court rejected the state's argument that it had a proprietary right to all of the wild life in the state. The court found that a property owner had a special property right to take fish and hunt wild game upon his own land, which inured to him by reason of his ownership of the soil. However, the court noted that such a right must yield to the state's ownership and title of the fish and game in the state, which it held for the purposes of regulation and preservation for the public use. The court found that those two rights did not conflict. Therefore, the court held that defendant should have had the same right to hunt and fish on his own land that resident owners of property in the state had to hunt and fish on their own lands. Since the Act differentiated between residents and nonresidents, the court held it was violative of the Equal Protection Clause of the Fourteenth Amendment.

  • Without defendant's consent or knowledge, a state animal inspector surveyed defendant's property on two occasions. Without prior notice to or consent of defendant, the State seized all of defendant's dogs. The court stated that warrantless searches and seizures had to be limited by order, statute, or regulation as to time, place, and scope in order to comport with the requirements of the Fourth Amendment. Because the Act and the order failed to so limit the search, the court concluded that it was unreasonable and unlawful.

  • In this North Carolina case, Defendant appealed her conviction for misdemeanor animal cruelty. Defendant primarily argued that the “evidence failed to establish that mere exposure to the living conditions constituted torment as defined by § 14-306(c).” The Court disagreed, finding that the stench of defendant's residence required the fire department to bring breathing apparatus for the animal control officers and urine and feces coated "everything" in the house, including the cats, was sufficient to support a conclusion by a reasonable jury that defendant “tormented” cat C142, causing it unjustifiable pain or suffering. The Court, however, vacated the order of restitution for $ 259.22 and remanded for a hearing on the matter because there was no evidence presented at trial supporting the award.

  • In this North Carolina case, defendant challenged her conviction for violating that city ordinance that limited the number of dogs greater than five months of age that can be kept on premises within the city limits to three. After conviction, defendant appealed the constitutionality of the ordinance, arguing that it was “arbitrary and without any justification” and “fails to stand upon a rational basis.” This Court disagreed. First noting that legislative enactments have a presumption of constitutionality, the Court held that the town of Nashville enacted the ordinance for the purpose of reducing noise and odor problems. These objectives are clearly legitimate public purposes, and the limitation on the number of dogs is directly related to those objectives.

  • A woman was convicted of fifty-eight counts of animal cruelty after animal control officers found fifty-eight diseased cats in her trailer.  The trial court sentenced the woman to ninety days of jail time for each count, but revised the sentence to include two days of jail time,  two years of formal probation, and twelve and a half years of informal probation.  The Court of Appeals affirmed the conviction, but found that fourteen and a half years probation exceeded the court's statutory authority. 

  • After defendant/appellant took a baseball to the head of and consequently killed a 7-month-old puppy, the Iowa District Court of Scott County found defendant/appellant guilty of animal torture under Iowa Code section 717B.3A (1). Defendant/appellant appealed the district court's decision, arguing that the evidence shown was insufficient to support a finding he acted “with a depraved or sadistic intent,” as stated by Iowa statute. The appeals court agreed and reversed and remanded the case back to district court for dismissal. Judge Vaitheswaran authored a dissenting opinion.

  • This Florida case involves the appeal of defendant's motion to suppress evidence in an animal cruelty case. Specifically, defendant Milewski challenged the evidence obtained during the necropsy of his puppy, alleging that he did not abandon his property interest in the body of the deceased dog because he thought the puppy's remains would be returned to him in the form of ashes. The necropsy showed that the puppy suffered a severe brain hemorrhage, extensive body bruises, and a separated spinal column that were consistent with severe physical abuse (which was later corroborated by Milewski's confession that he had thrown the dog). The trial court granted the motion to suppress and further found that law enforcement infringed on defendant's rights as the "patient's owner" when they interviewed the veterinarian and obtained veterinary records without consent or a subpoena, contrary to Florida law. On appeal, this court found that the Fourth Amendment does not extend to abandoned property. When Milewski abandoned his puppy's remains for the less-expensive "group cremation" at the vet's office, he gave up his expectation of privacy. As such, the court found that he was not deprived of his property without consent or due process when animal services seized the puppy's remains without a warrant. Further, this court found that there was no basis to suppress the veterinarian's voluntary statements about the puppy's condition or the necropsy report. The motion to suppress was reversed as to the doctor's statements/testimony and the evidence from the necropsy. The trial court's suppression of the hospital's medical records obtained without a subpoena was affirmed.
  • Defendant, an owner of two dogs, both boxers, was charged with animal nuisance in violation of Revised Ordinances of Honolulu section 7-2.3. Mita’s counsel objected to the oral charge at trial, arguing "that the arraignment is [not] specific enough to put the defendant specifically on notice of what part of the . . . ordinance she’s being charged with." The district court denied Mita’s motion for judgment of acquittal and sentenced her to pay a $50 fine. Mita appealed. The Intermediate Court of Appeals vacated the judgment of the district court. On certiorari, the Hawaii Supreme Court reversed the judgment of the Intermediate Court of Appeals and remanded the case, finding that the definition of animal nuisance in section 7-2.2 does not create an additional essential element of the offense; and, second, the definition of "animal nuisance" is consistent with its commonly understood meaning.

  • Duane Moore appealed his conviction and sentence for second degree assault, domestic violence, after choking his wife during an argument. He argued that (1) the prosecutor committed misconduct during voir dire and closing argument when he argued facts not in evidence, made improper statements about witness credibility, and shifted the burden of proof; (2) the trial court erred when it allowed a witness to testify with a service dog; and (3) the prosecutor improperly testified at the sentencing hearing. With regard to the testimony dog issue, the court found that defendant failed to raise the issue at trial and thus failed to preserve this issue for appeal. Further, defendant failed to prove that any alleged errors were manifest. There is no evidence in the record that the dog's presence made Ms. Moore appear traumatized or victimized, and thereby violated Mr. Moore's due process rights, or acted as a comment on the evidence. The court rejected defendant's argument and affirmed the trial court.
  • Cattle owners sued the state and its agricultural commission for negligently performing the duty to use proper steps to prevent the spread of a contagious disease after they bought dairy cows at a sale that subsequently infected their herd. The owners were forced to sell their herd of dairy cows. The Supreme Court held that the owners could recover the difference between fair market value of their herd before and after it contracted the disease, loss of profits due to diminished milk production from cows before sale, value of silage or feed that had been contaminated, and reasonable costs of disinfecting the farm, but not for loss of profits for the dairy operation after they sold the cows, or loss of progeny.

  • Defendant moved to dismiss charges of two felony counts of animal cruelty. The District Court of Appeal held that systematically depriving his dogs of nourishment was properly charged as felony animal cruelty rather than misdemeanor.  Defendant fed his dogs so little that they suffered malnutrition over an extended period of time. This amounted to repeated infliction of unnecessary pain or suffering.

  • Defendant found guilty of Cruelty to Animals under a State statute after firing a pellet gun at/toward a cat which was later found with and died from a fatal wound.   On Defendant’s appeal, the Intermediate Court of Appeals of Hawai’i affirmed the lower court’s decision, finding that evidence that Defendant knowingly fired the pellet gun at a group of cats within the range of such a gun was sufficient to find that Defendant recklessly shot and killed the cat.   In making its decision, the Court of Appeals further found that the legislature clearly did not intend for a cat to be considered vermin or a pest for purposes of the relevant State anti-cruelty statute’s exception, and instead clearly intended for a cat to be considered a “pet animal.”  

  • In this unpublished Louisiana case, the defendant was charged with “cruelty to an animal, to wit, a bat, belonging to Julian Mumme, by beating the animal with a bat causing the animal to be maimed and injured.” After the first witness was sworn at trial, the State moved to amend the information to strike the phrase “to wit: a bat." On appeal, defendant alleged that this was improper, a mistrial should have been declared, and the State should be prohibited from trying him again. The Court of Appeal of Louisiana, Fourth Circuit disagreed with defendant, holding that the amendment corrected a defect of form, not a defect of substance (as allowed by La.C.Cr.P. art. 487), and that the trial court correctly allowed the bill to be amended during trial.

  • Defendant appeals her convictions for assault of an officer, refusing to submit to arrest, criminal use of an electronic weapon, and two counts of cruelty to animals. In October 2009, a state police trooper was dispatched to defendant's home to investigate complaints that she was keeping animals despite a lifetime ban imposed after her 2004 animal cruelty conviction. The appellate found each of her five claims frivolous, and instead directed its inquiry as to whether the trial court correctly refused recusal at defendant's request. This court found that the trial court acted with "commendable restraint and responsible concern for Murphy's fundamental rights," especially in light of defendant's outbursts and provocations.

  • The defendant was convicted under North Carolina's cruelty to animal statute for the killing of his neighbor's chickens.  The defendant appealed to the Supreme Court because the trial court refused to give some of his instructions to the jury.  The Supreme Court that the lower court was correct and affirmed.

  • Defendants in this Washington case appeal their convictions of animal fighting and operating an unlicensed private kennel. They contend on appeal that the trial judge abused her discretion by allowing an expert from the Humane Society to render an opinion on whether the evidence showed that the defendants intended to engage in dogfighting exhibitions. The Court of Appeals held that the judge did not abuse her discretion in admitting the expert's opinion. The opinions offered by the expert were based on the evidence and the expert's years of experience. The court found that the expert's opinion was a fair summary and reflected the significance of the other evidence offered by the prosecution. Further, the expert's opinion was proffered to rebut defendants' contention that the circumstantial evidence (the veterinary drugs, training equipment, tattoos, etc.) showed only defendants' intent to enter the dogs in legal weight-pulling contests. Defendants convictions for animal fighting and operating an unlicensed private kennel were affirmed.

  • In this case, the Supreme Court of Oregon reviewed a case in which defendant accused the State of violating her constitutional rights by taking a blood sample of her dog without a warrant to do so. Ultimately, the court held that the defendant did not have a protected privacy interest in the dog’s blood and therefore the state did not violate defendant’s constitutional rights. Defendant’s dog, Juno, was seized by the Humane Society after a worker made a visit to plaintiff’s home and had probable cause to believe that Juno was emaciated from not receiving food from plaintiff. After Juno was seized and taken into custody for care, the veterinarian took a blood sample from Juno to confirm that there was no other medical reason as to why Juno was emaciated. Defendant argued that this blood test was a violation of her constitutional rights because the veterinarian did not have a warrant to perform the test. The court dismissed this argument and held that once Juno was taken into custody, defendant had “lost her rights of dominion and control over Juno, at least on a temporary basis.” Finally, the court held that because Juno was lawfully seized and Juno’s blood was “not ‘information’ that defendant placed in Juno for safekeeping or to conceal from view,” defendant’s constitutional rights had not been violated.
  • In this criminal case, defendant was found guilty of 20 counts of second-degree animal neglect. Oregon's “anti-merger” statute provides that, when the same conduct or criminal episode violates only one statute, but involves more than one “victim,” there are “as many separately punishable offenses as there are victims.” The issue in this case is whether defendant is guilty of 20 separately punishable offenses, which turns on the question whether animals are “victims” for the purposes of the anti-merger statute. The trial court concluded that, because only people can be victims within the meaning of that statute, defendant had committed only one punishable offense. The court merged the 20 counts into a single conviction for second-degree animal neglect. On appeal, the Court of Appeals concluded that animals can be victims within the meaning of the anti-merger statute and, accordingly, reversed and remanded for entry of a judgment of conviction on each of the 20 counts and for resentencing. The Supreme Court agreed with the Court of Appeals and affirmed. Thus, in Oregon, for the purposes of the anti-merger statute, an animal, rather than the public or an animal owner, is a “victim” of crime of second-degree animal neglect.
  • Upon receiving a tip that animals were being neglected, police entered a farm and discovered several emaciated animals, as well as many rotting animal carcasses. After a jury found the defendant guilty of 20 counts of second degree animal neglect, the district court, at the sentencing hearing, only issued a single conviction towards the defendant. The state appealed and argued the court should have imposed 20 separate convictions based on its interpretation of the word "victims" in ORS 161.067(2). The appeals court agreed. The case was remanded for entry of separate convictions on each guilty verdict. 
  • Defendant was convicted of several counts of second degree unlawful hunting of big game after a game agent (“agent”) followed vehicle tracks to Defendant’s home upon finding fresh cow elk gut piles, and Defendant showed the agent two cow elk carcasses hanging in Defendant’s shed.   On appeal, the Court of Appeals of Washington, Division 3 found that because the agent was in fresh pursuit of criminal activity and did not enter Defendant’s property with the intent to obtain consent to search in order to evade a search warrant, the agent was not obligated to issue Ferrier warnings, and that suppressing the seized carcasses from evidence would not have altered the outcome of the case in light of the substantial evidence obtained prior to seizing the carcasses.

  • This Georgia case involves a former police lieutenant who was indicted on two counts of aggravated cruelty to animals after he left his K-9 named Inka locked in his police vehicle while he attended to tasks inside his home. The dog died after being left inside the vehicle, which had all doors and windows closed with no A/C or ventilation running. The state appeals the trial court's grant of defendant's motion to quash the indictment. Specifically, the state argues that OCGA § 17-7-52 (a law that requires at least a 20-day notice prior to presentment of a proposed indictment to a grand jury when a peace officer is charged with a crime that occurred in the performance of his or her duties) is inapplicable. The state did not send defendant a copy of the proposed indictment before it presented the case to the grand jury. The state contends defendant "stepped aside" from his police-related duties and was therefore not afforded the protections of OCGA § 17-7-52. This court disagreed with that assessment. Since Peabody was responsible for the care and housing of Inka as her K-9 handler, leaving her unattended, albeit in an illegal manner, was still in performance of his police duties. As such, Peabody was entitled to the procedural protections of the statute according to the appellate court. The trial court's motion to quash his indictment was affirmed.
  • Defendant appealed a judgment entered in the District Court after a bench trial found she committed the civil violation of cruelty to animals. Defendant contended that the court abused its discretion in quashing a subpoena that would have compelled one of her witnesses to testify; that the cruelty-to-animals statute is unconstitutionally vague; and that the record contains insufficient evidence to sustain a finding of cruelty to animals and to support the court's restitution order. The Supreme Judicial Court of Maine, however, disagreed and affirmed the lower court's judgment.

  • In this case, defendant appeals six counts of first degree animal cruelty charges. On appeal, the defendant argued that (1) the statute she was convicted under, RCW 16.52.205(6), was unconstitutionally vague; that (2) starvation and dehydration were alternative means of committing first degree animal cruelty and that (3) there was no substantial evidence supporting the horses suffered from dehydration. The defendant also argued that the Snohomish Superior court had no authority to order her to reimburse the county for caring for her horses. The appeals court, however, held that RCW 16.52.205(6) was not unconstitutionally vague; that starvation and dehydration were alternative means to commit first degree animal cruelty, but there was substantial evidence to support the horses suffered from dehydration; and that the superior court had authority to order the defendant to pay restitution to the county.
  • The Defendant was charge with cruelty to animals for the killing of a certain spotted bull, belonging some person to the jurors unknow.  The lower court found the Defendant guilty.  The Defendant then appealed to the Supreme Court seeking review of whether the defense of provocation could be used.  The Court determined the answer to be yes. Thus the Court reversed and remanded the case.

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