Cases

  • A slaughterhouse owner violated a Mississippi statute by failing to provide E. coli swab samples from hog carcasses for three weeks.  The Circuit Court found in favor of the Mississippi Department of Commerce and the Court of appeals affirmed the decision.

  • In this Washington case, plaintiff Sligar was bitten on the finger by the Odells' dog after Sligar's finger protruded through a hole in the six-foot high chain link fence that separated their two properties. The court found the dispositive question was whether, pursuant to RCW 16.08.040 and .050 (a law that defines when entry onto the property of the dog owner is for a lawful purpose) Sligar's finger was “lawfully in or on ... the property of the” Odells at the time of the dog bite. The court found that the statute provides that consent may not be presumed where the property is fenced. Concerning the common law negligence claim, Sligar contends that the Odells were negligent in failing to protect her from harm because they failed to erect a solid fence on the property boundary until after the bite occurred. However, the court had previously found that it is not unreasonable to keep a dog in a fenced backyard where the dog has not shown any dangerous propensities.

  • Plaintiff Steven Smegal appeals a judgment that found him 50% at fault in a dog bite case. The incident occurred after the dog owned by Smegal's neighbor (Gettys) ran into the street and was hit by a school bus. Smegal approached the injured dog too closely and was bitten on his ankle. The Court of Appeal, First Circuit affirmed the lower court's finding. The court held that Smegal's actions did not constitute provocation where the dog's owners were also approaching the injured dog in an "equally provocative" manner. As to allocation of fault, the court found that while it was Gettys' failure to restrain the dog that was the ultimate cause of the accident, Smegal chose to approach the injured dog despite his training and knowledge as a police officer. Thus, this set of facts supported the trial court's allocation of comparative fault.

  • This case stems from the killing of three dogs by Detroit Police Officers in 2016. Plaintiff-dog owners brought a 42 U.S.C. § 1983 action based on unlawful seizure their dogs in violation of the Fourth Amendment. In addition, plaintiffs raised Monell municipal liability claims and state laws claims for conversion and intentional infliction of emotional distress (IIED). Before this court is defendants' motion for summary judgment. The shooting of the dogs occurred during a drug raid pursuant to a search warrant (the marijuana charges were eventually dismissed due to the failure of police officers to appear at trial). One of the dogs escaped his barricade in the basement and was shot after allegedly charging the officers. The other dog "opened and closed the bathroom door by himself" according to testimony of the officers in their depositions, information that was absent from initial police reports according to the court. The last dog was shot as she began "charging" up the basement stairs while officers were at the top of the stairs. Depositions statements also reveal that none of the officers received any specific training on handling animal encounters during raids and one of the officers indicated he had shot at least 69 animals and another had shot 39. In analyzing the plaintiffs' Fourth Amendment interests in their dogs, the court held that because plaintiffs failed to properly license their dogs under Michigan law, they did not have a "legitimate possessory interest protected by the Fourth Amendment." Thus, plaintiffs' claims based on the Fourth Amendment were dismissed. Specifically, the court stated, "in the eyes of the law it is no different than owning any other type of illegal property or contraband." As to the violation of a clearly established constitutional right for the seizure of the dogs under the Fourth Amendment against the police department, the court found the Detroit Police Department's plan did not violate the Fourth Amendment, especially where the informant said there was only a "small dog" present at the residence. The individual officers' actions were also found to be reasonable based on the "imminent threat" of the dogs. As to the Monell claim, plaintiffs failed to establish a pattern of violations showing deliberate indifference that is sufficient to establish municipal liability. Finally, on the IIED claim, the court relied on the fact that there is no precedent in Michigan to permit recovery for damage to property (to wit, a dog). Similarly, plaintiffs' conversion claim also failed where the court found the unlicensed status removed any "legitimate interest" in the dogs. The court subsequently granted defendants' motion for summary judgment.
  • This New York appeal reversed the lower court's judgment finding Officer Smith strictly liable for dog-bite injuries sustained by infant plaintiffs. The court found that, in the limited time the officer spent with the dog, the dog acted friendly, playful, and "rambunctious." He did not see the dog growl or lunge at the plaintiff and her family, who were sitting in the precinct house. The testimony adduced at trial did not establish that Officer Smith knew or should have known of the dog's vicious propensities. Further, the court found the evidence was insufficient to show that Officer Smith owned the dog. Rather, he took temporary custody of the abandoned dog with the intention to transport him to the ASPCA, and the dog was in his possession for, at most, a few hours.

  • The defendant was charged for violation of Virginia’s Code § 3.2–6570(F) after he shot the family dog; he was later convicted by a jury.  Upon appeal, the defendant argued the trial court erred in denying his proffered self-defense jury instructions. The appeals court agreed, reasoning that more than a scintilla of evidence supported giving the proffered self-defense instructions, that determining whether this evidence was credible and actually supported a conclusion that the defendant acted in self-defense or defense of others was the responsibility of the jury, not that of the trial court, and that the proffered jury instructions properly stated the law. The case was thus reversed and remanded.

  • The plaintiff appeals the lower court's dismissal of her claims against defendant-landowners and their insurers. The plaintiff was injured (for the second time) by the defendant-landowners' son's pitbull while walking past their home. While it was undisputed that the landowners did not own the dog, the issue was whether they had a duty to prevent the attack via "custodial liability." Here, the defendant-landowners asserted that they thought the son had gotten rid of the dog after it was confiscated and quarantined by animal control after it first attacked the plaintiff. Thus, this court found that defendant-landowners did not know of the dog's presence on their property and affirmed the trial court's order of summary judgment.

  • In this Illinois case, the passenger of horse-drawn carriage brought action in negligence and strict liability against driver of carriage and owner of horse and carriage for injuries passenger received when carriage went off road and overturned. The lower court dismissed all of passenger's counts.  On appeal, the Appellate Court held that, as matter of first impression, the passenger was not subject to provisions of EALA, and the alleged facts sufficient to state cause of action under state Animal Control Act.

  • Defendant Jonas Smith was convicted of aggravated assault and appealed. He argued that the trial court (1) erred by denying his motion to suppress his warrantless arrest; (2) abused its discretion by failing to grant a mistrial after the Plaintiff referenced the Defendant’s previous incarceration; and (3) abused its discretion by allowing a child witness to testify with the assistance of a service dog. The Court of Appeal of Texas, Houston (14th Dist.)., held that: 1. The police officer had probable cause to believe that the defendant committed an act of family violence, which justified his warrantless arrest; 2. any prejudice resulting from the Plaintiff’s reference to Defendant's prior incarceration was cured by prompt jury instruction to disregard reference; 3. allowing the child witness to testify with the assistance of a service dog was not likely to prejudice the jury in evaluating the child's testimony; and 4.any error in allowing the witness to testify with the assistance of a service dog was harmless. The Court of Appeals reasoned that the defendant did not present any argument during the trial about the jury being prejudiced by the presence of the service dog. Therefore, there was nothing present for review at the appellate level. Also, the Defendant did not identify any harm from the use of a service dog. The Defendant’s conviction was affirmed.
  • The Court struck down an Iowa law that banned certain producers from owning or controlling livestock in Iowa based on the Dormant Commerce Clause.

  • This Pennsylvania case involves cross-appeals following a jury trial in which defendant SPCA, was found liable for euthanizing the dogs belonging to plaintiff Snead, who was awarded damages in the amount of $154,926.37, including $100,000 in punitive damages. The facts stemmed from a seizure several dogs at a seemingly abandoned property owned by Snead where Snead was arrested on dog fighting charges, which were then dropped the next day. However, Snead was not aware that the charges were dropped and that the dogs were therefore available to be reclaimed. The dogs were ultimately euthanized after Snead went to reclaim them. On appeal, this court first held that the SPCA does not operate as a branch of the Commonwealth and therefore, does not enjoy the protection of sovereign immunity or protection under the Pennsylvania Tort Claims Act. The court held that there was sufficient evidence presented for Snead's Sec. 1983 to go to the jury that found the SPCA has inadequate procedures/policies in place to safeguard Snead's property interest in the dogs. As to damages, the court found the there was no evidence to impute to the SPCA evil motive or reckless indifference to the rights of Snead sufficient for an award of punitive damages.  

  • Plaintiffs sought damages after having to slaughter dairy cows that were injured by defendant’s defective machine. The Court held that plaintiffs could recover 1) the fair market value less salvage value of the cows, 2) the loss of profit during the period after the incident when cows of comparable quality became available on the market, and 3) the calculable loss in milk production caused by the incident's negative impact on the milk production level of the remaining cows.

  • Fourth Amendment protections apply regardless of the specific reasons for why a seizure may have occurred.

  • The appellant was charged and convicted of being a person in charge and authorising the carriage of a number of goats in cages which did not allow those goats to stand upright. The appellant was a veterinary doctor employed by the Australian Quarantine Inspection Service and authorised under the Export Control (Animals) Orders 1987 to certify animals for export. On appeal, it was determined that for the purposes of the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals (General) Regulation 1996, the appellant was not a person in charge of the goats.

  • Dog owner brought action for damages against city and police officers that shot his dog, seeking punitive damages.  The court observed that under Minnesota law dogs are personal property, and thus, the proper measure of compensatory damages for destroying an animal is the fair market value of the animal.  The court further held Soucek cannot recover punitive damages for the loss of his pet because he only suffered property damage. Compensatory damages for the loss of Soucek's pet are limited to the fair market value of the animal. 

  • This case resulted from the alleged negligent transport of a horse that resulted in a drastic change in the horse's temperament (to a "killer horse"), which ultimately led to its destruction by its owner.  Before trial, defendant demurred to plaintiff's petition on the ground that the action was barred under R.C. s 2305.11, the act being 'malpractice' and therefore required to be brought within one year after the termination of treatment.  The Court of Appeals held that the trial court's decision overruling the demurrer to plaintiff's petition was correct, 'the petitioner is based on negligence for the transporting rather than malpractice.'  Further, the Court held that until the Supreme Court speaks, veterinarians are not included in the definition of malpractice (reversed and remanded - See , 293 N.E.2d 891 (Ohio, Mun.,1972).

  • This action was brought by plaintiff as owner of a 3 year old thoroughbred race horse, named Pribal, against defendant, a veterinarian, charging defendant so mishandled the horse that it sustained physical injuries and emotional trauma; that the emotional stability of the horse worsened until finally it was exterminated. The court held that the evidence failed to show any proximate cause between the surgery that was performed on the horse and the subsequent care and transport of the horse by the veterinarian. 

    As the court stated, what caused Pribal to become mean and a "killer" is speculative; the O.S.U. Veterinary Clinic records in evidence did not indicate any causal relationship between the handling of Pribal by the defendant and the subsequent personality change resulting in Pribal becoming a "killer horse."

  • In the past, SouthBARK, a charitable non-profit no kill shelter, acquired dogs from the Mobile County Animal Shelter (MCAS) to prevent their euthanization. However, after a SouthBARK employee threatened a shelter worker and after numerous statements from SouthBark about the number of animals being killed at MCAS, MCAS refused to let SouthBARK take anymore dogs for a 6 month period. After the 6 month period, MCAS allowed SouthBARK to take dogs again, but soon afterwards sent a letter to SouthBARK informing them that they could not take any more animals. SouthBARK and Dusty Feller, the Vice President of SouthBARK, brought this action against Mobile County Commission and MCAS. On July 8, Defendants filed a Partial Motion to Dismiss. The District Court granted the motion in part and denied the motion in part, stating that it was "not inclinded to make Defendants' arguments for them."

  • Applicant to nursing program brought suit against the college alleging discrimination under Section 504 of the Rehabilitation Act for denying her acceptance to the program based on her physical disability of being deaf. The college alleged that the applicant was not "otherwise qualified" under the statute because, even if provided accommodations for her hearing disability, she would be unable to safely participate in the clinical training program. The court held that "otherwise qualified" under the statute means that a person is qualified for the program "in spite of" the handicap, and that the applicant here was not otherwise qualified for the program. The court also held that a program authority is not required to ignore the disability of the applicant when determining eligibility for the program. Rather, the statute only requires that the disabled person not be denied the benefits of the program solely because of the disability.

  • The appellant Robert T. Spangler appealed the decision of the Canton Municipal Court, Stark County that affirmed a dog warden's classification of his dog as "dangerous" under R.C. 955.11. While there are no cases on point that interpret this specific procedure on appeal, the court found the record did not reveal an abuse of discretion that would create a manifest miscarriage of justice. Even where there was potentially conflicting testimony whether appellant's dog actually bit the other dog's owner or whether it was caused by his own dog, the statute only requires a demonstration that the dog in question "caused injury" without provocation. Appellant's dog leaving the property lead to a "chain of events resulting in some sort of puncture injury" to the other dog owner's leg.

  • This is a nuisance case involving the operation of a cattle feed lot.  Plaintiff sued to enjoin feed lot operators from interfering with use and enjoyment of plaintiffs' property asked for damages. The circuit court rendered judgment and defendant appealed. The Supreme Court held that decree limiting defendants to having no more than 600 head of cattle on its feed lot at one time was reasonable.

  • This is an appeal from a circuit court decision where the appellant claimed error for failure to grant a nonsuit and directed verdict in a case involving livestock running at large.  Plaintiff brought suit under a state statute which provides that an livestock owner shall not permit an animal to run at large or go on the land of another.  The Court of Appeals held that the defendant permitted its cattle to run at large, the plaintiff's oat fields were the lands of another according to the statute, and that the plaintiff's loss was satisfactorily established.

  • This was an action brought by appellant, before a justice of the peace, against appellee, to recover damages for killing a dog owned by appellant. The court here reversed the judgment, and remanded the case to determine recovery of damages based on the qualities, traits, consequential losses, and the market price of the animal at issue. 

  • In this Arkansas case, the plaintiff was the owner of a "valuable bloodhound bitch." In April of 1900, she was killed by a passenger train of the defendant. Plaintiff sued the St. Louis, Iron Mountain & Southern Railway Company for the damages he suffered by reason of the killing of his dog. He alleged in his complaint that the defendant carelessly and negligently ran one of its trains over and killed his bloodhound bitch, with a value of $250. The court found that the testimony of Miller, a man who bred bloodhounds, furnished the jury with information which was reasonably calculated to afford them assistance in arriving at a fair valuation of the dog. The evidence was sufficient to sustain the verdict, according to the court.

  • Plaintiff brought this action pursuant to Title II of the Americans with Disabilities Act (the “ADA”), Section 504 of the Rehabilitation Act of 1973, and New York State and New York City laws, alleging that the New York City Transit Authority (“NYCTA”) and the Manhattan and Bronx Surface Transit Operating Authority (“MaBSTOA”) (collectively, “Defendants”) failed to ensure that their vehicles and facilities were accessible to her and other persons with disabilities who utilize service animals. Defendants moved for summary judgment, arguing that Plaintiff (1) was not disabled, (2) was not entitled to use a “service animal,” (3) was seeking to bring dogs which do not qualify as “service animals” onto Defendants' vehicles; had not made out a Title II claim and (5) could not make out a claim for intentional infliction of emotional distress. Defendants' motion for summary judgment was granted only with respect to that portion of the eleventh cause of action that alleged intentional infliction of emotional distress. The parties were also directed to submit supplemental briefing.
  • A livestock owner and drover sued the Wyoming state brand inspector, alleging that inspector violated his state and federal constitutional rights in making warrantless seizure of five head of livestock, and that inspector abused his office in violation of state constitution. Plaintiff Rudy Stanko, proceeding pro se, appealed from the district court's order granting summary judgment to defendant Jim Maher.  The appellate court affirmed the entry of summary judgment in favor of Mr. Maher, holding that the warrantless search of cattle did not violate Fourth Amendment and the inspector did not violate the Fourth Amendment by making warrantless seizure of cattle as estrays.  Further, the procedure provided under Wyoming brand inspection statutes prior to seizure of cattle deemed to be estrays satisfied due process requirements.
  • The defendant, a self-employed oil distributor, was charged with 16 counts of animal cruelty for intentionally or knowingly failing to provide food and care for his horses. After being denied a petition for pretrial division and a petition for a writ of certiorari, the defendant appealed to the Supreme Court of Tennessee, who granted the defendant permission to appeal, but affirmed the lower court's decision that the assistant district attorney general did not abuse his discretion and that the trial court did not err in denying the defendant's petition for writ of certiorari.

  • In an action in mandamus, relator property owner sought a writ ordering respondent building commissioner of the City of Euclid to issue a building permit for the construction of a store building.  The store building would be used for the slaughter of chicken.  The state tired to oppose the building by stating the use would be against Ohio's cruelty to animal statute.  The Court ruled that the term "animals" as thus used meant a quadruped, not a bird or fowl.  Thus, the court ruled in favor of the property owner in his mandamus action against the commissioner.  

  • Defendant's horses were seized on December 14, 2005 pursuant to a search and seizure warrant signed by the court. The warrant was sought, in part, on affidavits that alleged possible violations of the Cruelty to Animals statutory provisions. Defendant Rowley filed the instant motion to dismiss for lack of subject matter jurisdiction arguing that the court lacks jurisdiction because the state has failed to comply with the provisions of § 22-329a and because the search and seizure warrant is invalid. Specifically, defendant maintains that the phrase in subsection (a) authorizing the chief animal control officer to "lawfully take charge of any animal found neglected or cruelly treated" merely allows the officer to enter the owner's property to care for the animal, but does not authorize seizure of the animal without a prior judicial determination. This court rejected Rowley's interpretation of the phrase "lawfully take charge." The court found that, as a practical matter, it is inconceivable that animal control officers, having found animals that are neglected or cruelly treated, would then leave them at the property.

  • The "Missourians for Protection of Dogs" ("MPD") advocated a statewide ballot measure to enact a new statutory provision to be known as the "Puppy Mill Cruelty Prevention Act." The certified ballot title included a summary statement reading: "Shall Missouri law be amended to: . . . create a misdemeanor crime of ‘puppy mill cruelty’ for any violations?" One taxpaying Missouri citizen, Karen Strange, subsequently filed a Petition for Declaratory Judgment and Injunctive Relief against the Secretary of State, challenging the summary statement as being "insufficient and unfair." In this action, the Humane Society of Missouri sought protection from an order of the circuit court requiring it to disclose and turn over Document 10 -  a series of focus group findings and related documentation developed by the Humane Society of Missouri and its partners to formulate political strategy. Writing on behalf of the Missouri Court of Appeals, Western District, Judge Victor C. Howard, with all concurring, granted the HSMO’s writ of prohibition. HSMO’s preliminary writ of prohibition was made absolute, rendering Document 10 non-discoverable.

  • The Kansas Attorney General had advised the cockfighter that cockfighting was illegal in Kansas under the provisions of § 21-4310 (Supp. 1972). The gamecock fighter believed the Attorney General was wrong and advised a county attorney that he intended to fight gamecocks on his farm so the State then sought a declaratory judgment.  On appeal, the court found that cockfighting did not fall within the prohibition of § 21-4310 as constituting cruelty to animals, as Kansas statutes proscribing cruelty to animals had traditionally been directed toward protection of the four-legged animal, especially beasts of the field and beasts of burden. 

  • State of Iowa sued the owner of a hog confinement operation for violations of manure disposal and animal control regulations.

  • Sixteen residents who violated portions of the wildlife code challenged the hearings that they received before a panel from the Department of Conservation, which were not conducted in an evidentiary fashion or recorded.  The Court found that, pursuant to the rulemaking authority granted under the State constitution to the Department of Conservation, the regulations provide for noncontested hearings unless the permitee is entitled by law to a contested hearing (a "contested case" is a proceeding before an agency in which legal rights, duties or privileges of specific parties are required by law to be determined after hearing).  The Court found that no such law applies to this case, citing a case that determined hunting is not a fundamental right.

  • The special action considers whether a person who uses a dangerous instrument in committing an animal cruelty offense may be sentenced as a dangerous offender. The facts in the underlying case are as follows. A witness in an apartment complex heard a dog crying and observed Shundog Hu using a rod to hit a dog that was inside a pet enclosure. Hu was charged with both intentionally or knowingly subjecting an animal to cruel mistreatment, a felony, and under the "dangerous offense" laws because the animal cruelty "involved the discharge, use, or threatening exhibition of a pole and/or rod, a deadly weapon or dangerous instrument, in violation of A.R.S. §§ 13-105 and 13-704." Hu moved to dismiss the dangerous offense allegation stating that, as a matter of law, "a dangerous offense cannot be committed against an animal." Hu contended that the legislature's inclusion of the phrase "on another person" in the statutory definition for "dangerous offense" evinces this intent. The State, on the other hand, argued that sentencing enhancement is based on the use of the dangerous instrument rather than the target of the instrument. The superior court granted Hu's motion and the State petitioned for this special action. This court accepted jurisdiction because " the State has no adequate remedy on appeal and the petition presents a legal issue of statewide importance." This court first examined the statutory definition for a "dangerous" felony offense: "an offense involving the discharge, use or threatening exhibition of a deadly weapon or dangerous instrument or the intentional or knowing infliction of serious physical injury on another person.” The State's contention is that the "or" in the definition is disjunctive and, thus, the phrase "on another person" only applies to the second independent clause. Hu counters that such an interpretation would cover harm to anything and lead to absurd results. This court first noted that the statutory definitions are silent as to whether they only apply to humans. Applying principles of secondary interpretation and sensible construction, the court held that legislature's purpose in drafting the dangerous offense definition and the related statutes was to enhance crimes to “dangerous offenses” to protect human life. The State cannot charge a crime as a dangerous offense unless the target is against another person. In reaching this conclusion, the court contemplated extreme examples involving felony damage to vegetation as well as comparison to a recent decision in Texas where a deadly weapon finding was limited to human victims only.
  • After a judge granted two humane societies permission to dispose of nearly 120 severely emaciated and malnourished horses, the horses' owner, instead of posting a bond or security, filed for a writ of mandamus with the court of appeals. The appeals court issued a stop order and transferred the case to the Missouri Supreme Court. Here, the horses’ owner argued two points, but the Missouri Supreme Court found that (1) the spoliation of evidence doctrine does not apply at this juncture and that (2) the statute was not unconstitutionally vague, nor does the owner allege that the statute discriminates based upon classification or that the statute discriminates in its application so as to violate the equal protection clause. The stop order was therefore dissolved and the petition for the writ of mandamus was denied.

  • Police seized 120 neglected horses pursuant to a search warrant and a Circuit Court Judge allowed humane societies to dispose of the horses.  The owner of the horses sought a writ of mandamus against the Circuit Court Judge.  The Missouri Supreme Court held the Circuit Court Judge had jurisdiction to permit the seized horses to be disposed of and the impoundment statute was not unconstitutionally vague.

  • A trial court granted a local humane society permission to humanely dispose of horses placed in their custody by the Sheriff.  A man filed petition for a writ of mandamus against the the trial judge and humane society to challenge the judge's order.  The Court of Appeals reversed the trial court holding the trial court lacked jurisdiction over the Humane Society of Missouri. Opinion transferred to State ex rel. Zobel v. Burrell , 167 S.W.3d 688 (Mo., 2005).

  • This is an appeal from an order of the county court invalidating a City of North Miami ordinance regulating the ownership of pit bull dogs.  The ordinance in question, City of North Miami Ordinance No. 422.5, regulates the ownership of pit bulls by requiring their owners to carry insurance or furnish other evidence of financial responsibility, register their pit bulls with the City, and confine the dogs indoors or in a locked pen.  The court dismissed defendants claims that the ordinance violates equal protection and due process, and that the ordinance's definition of a pit bull is on its face unconstitutionally vague.
  • Jane Smith was charged with 47 counts of animal cruelty after 47 dogs and other animals were seized from her property where she operated a private dog rescue. Smith was ultimately sentenced to jail time and required to compensate the Humane Society for the money that was spent to care for the 47 dogs that were seized from Smith’s property. Smith appealed her sentence, arguing that the lower court had made five errors in coming to its decision. The Court of Appeals only addressed four of the five arguments made by Smith. First, the Smith argued that the court erred in not suppressing evidence on the basis that her 4th Amendment rights had been violated. The Court of Appeals dismissed this argument, holding that Smith’s 4th Amendment rights had not been violated because the information that led to the seizure of Smith’s dogs was provided by a private citizen and therefore not applicable to the 4th Amendment protections. Secondly, Smith argued that the court violated her due process rights when it made multiple, erroneous evidentiary rulings that deprived her of her ability to meaningfully defend herself at trial. The Court of Appeals found that Smith had not provided enough evidence to establish that her due process rights had been violated, so the Court of Appeals dismissed the argument. Thirdly, Smith made a number of arguments related to constitutional violations but the Court of Appeals found that there was not evidence to support these arguments and dismissed the claim. Lastly, Smith argued that she had made a pre-indictment, non-prosecution agreement that was not followed by the court. The Court of Appeals also dismissed this argument for a lack of evidence. Ultimately, the Court of Appeals upheld the lower court’s decision and sentencing. 

  • Defendants were convicted of animal cruelty with regard to underweight and malnourished horses.  The Superior Court reversed, holding that the evidence was insufficient to sustain a jury finding, and the State appealed.  Held:  reversed.

  • Defendant, the director of the Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals of Connecticut, Inc., was charged with 63 counts of animal cruelty for failing to give animals “proper care by exposing [them] to conditions that placed [them] at risk of hypothermia, dehydration, or to conditions injurious to [their] well-being....” Defendant was the director of a nonprofit animal rescue organization and housed rescued dogs in an uninsulated outdoor barn heated solely by space heaters. After a trial, Defendant was convicted of 15 counts and acquitted of the remaining 48 counts of animal cruelty. On appeal, the defendant claimed that (1) there was insufficient evidence to support the conviction and (2)C.G.S.A. § 53-247(a) was unconstitutionally vague as applied to the facts of this case. The appellate court rejected defendant’s claims and affirmed the trial court’s decision.
  • The defendant was indicted at spring term, 1883, for a violation of the act of assembly in reference to cruelty to animals. The indictment is substantially as follows: The jurors, &c., present that the defendant, with force and arms, &c., "did unlawfully and wilfully overdrive, torture, torment, cruelly beat and needlessly mutilate a certain cow, the property of, &c., by beating said cow and twisting off her tail," contrary, &c. The jury found the defendant guilty, and on his motion the judgment was arrested and the state appealed.  The Supreme Court reversed the lower court's descision to arrest the judgment.

  • After witnessing the 73 year old defendant-appellant emerge from area by the veterinary's dumpster holding an empty, wire cage animal trap, an employee of the clinic followed the defendant-appellant's car and obtained the vehicle's license plate number. Upon returning to the dumpster, the employee found a kitten with matted eyes that seemed unhealthy. The defendant-appellant was charged with one count of animal abandonment in violation of R.C. 959.01 and was found guilty. Defendant-appellant appealed her conviction and sentence on the grounds that the court erred in finding beyond a reasonable doubt that she was a keeper or, if she was a keeper, the court erred in determining that she abandoned the animal. The Ohio Court of Appeals held that once the defendant captured the animal in a cage, she assumed the responsibility that she would treat the animal humanely and could therefore be considered a “keeper.” Since Amos captured the animal and released it in another location without taking steps to make sure the animal would be found, the Ohio Court of Appeals also held that a reasonable person could have found beyond a reasonable doubt that the defendant-appellant had “abandoned” the animal. The judgment was therefore affirmed.
  • Defendant Michael Ancona appealed his conviction of permitting a dog to roam at large in violation of General Statutes § 22-364(a). The defendant claims that (1) the court improperly held him responsible as a keeper of a dog when the owner was present and known to the authorities, and (2) the state adduced insufficient evidence to sustain his conviction. The plain language of the statute § 22-364(a) states that an “owner or keeper” is prohibited from allowing a dog to roam on a public highway. Either the owner or keeper or both can be held liable for a violation of the statute. The court also found sufficient evidence that defendant was the keeper of the pit bull: the dog stayed at his house, he initially responded to the incident and tried to pull the dog away, and defendant yelled at the Officer Rogers that she was not to take "his dog."

  • In this Ohio case, after police received a complaint about possible neglect of dogs located in a barn, an officer went to investigate and entered the barn through an unlocked door. The Humane Society then assisted the department in seizing forty-two dogs. Defendant-Anello was convicted by jury of two counts of animal cruelty. On appeal, defendant contended that the trial court erred in denying the motion to suppress illegally obtained evidence: to wit, the dogs from the barn. The appellate court disagreed, finding that the barn was not included within the curtilage of the residence since it was leased by a different person than the owner of the house (who had moved out of state). Further, the plain view/exigent circumstances exceptions came into play where the officers heard barking, smelled "overwhelming" urine odors, and observed through a window seventeen animals confined in cages that were stacked three high while the temperature outside was eighty degrees with high humidity. 

  • This appeal concerns the lower court's granting of a motion to suppress evidence in an animal cruelty case. In April of 2017, a Ponce Inlet Police Department officer responded to defendant's residence after receiving a call about possible animal abuse. The caller described hearing sounds of a dog yelping and being beaten. Upon arrival, Officer Bines heard dog commands and the sounds of "striking flesh." He then knocked on defendant Archer's front door and began speaking with him on the front porch. Officer Bines told Archer that he was there to investigate a complaint of possible animal abuse to which Archer acknowledged that his dog bit him after he disciplined the dog for making a mess, so he "hit him a couple times." The officer then told Archer he had "probable cause" to enter the house or he could seek a warrant. Ultimately, Bines followed Archer to the backyard where Archer pointed to a dog in the corner that had its tongue out and was bloodied. Shortly thereafter, Bines determined the dog was dead. Archer was then cuffed and advised of his Miranda rights. After placing Archer in the police vehicle, Bines and other officers re-entered the home and yard to take pictures of the crime scene and to secure the canine's remains. After being charged with violating the cruelty to animals law (Section 828.12), Archer moved to suppress the evidence obtained from the warrantless entry of his home. The trial court granted and denied the motion in part, finding that while there were exigent circumstances to justify the warrantless entry, the exigency was over once it was determined that the dog was dead. The State of Florida appeals here. The appellate court first noted that while warrantless searches of homes are presumed illegal, an officer may enter when there are exigent circumstances including medical emergencies related to animals. Despite Archer's attempts to distinguish the instant facts from previous cases because there were no signs of blood or smells to indicate an emergency, the totality of the facts showed police received a call of animal cruelty in progress and the Officer Bines heard sounds of striking flesh. In addition, Archer advised Bines that he had struck the dog. Thus, the court found the officer "had reasonable grounds to believe that there was an urgent and immediate need to check on the safety and well-being of the dog and to connect the feared emergency to the house that they entered." As to suppression of the evidence found in plain view after entry onto the property, the appellate court also found the lower court erred in its decision. Under existing case law, once entry is allowed based on exigent circumstances, items found in plain view may be lawfully seized. The officer saw the dog in the corner before he knew the dog was dead, and thus, the exigency still existed. With respect to the photographs taken and the bodycam footage, the court held that re-entry into the home after Archer was in the patrol car did not require a warrant. Once an exigency that justified a warrantless search is over, law enforcement cannot go back and conduct further searches. However, in this case, the re-entry into Archer's house was a continuation of photographing evidence that was already found in plain view while the exigency existed (e.g., before the officers knew the dog was dead). The motion to suppress was affirmed in part and reversed in part.
  • Defendant appealed from a conviction of participating as a spectator at an exhibition featuring dog fighting alleging that the statute under which he was convicted is unconstitutionally vague, overbroad and an invalid exercise of police power. The appellate court found the statute to be constitutional. Defendant also argued that the trial court erred in failing to dismiss the charge for insufficient evidence, however the appellate court found that there is substantial evidence to support the conviction. 

  • The Defedant was convicted of the charge of cruelty to animals for the beating of his own horse.  The Defendant appealed this descision to the Supreme Court of New Hampshire on two grounds.  First, the lower court failed to instructe the jury that intoxication was a defense to the charge.  Second, the lower court instructed the jury that the beating of an animal for training may at some point become malicious and illegal under that statute.  The Court held the lower court was not in error and affirmed the decision.

  • This New Jersey case involved an appeal of a borough ordinance that limited ownership to three licensed dogs.  The prosecutrix was found to have been keeping 39 dogs.  The court found that she presented no evidence that she was operating a kennel, nor was the ordinance unreasonable in its restriction.

  • The defendant was convicted, in the Somerset Oyer and Terminer, of malicious mischief. The indictment charges that the defendant unlawfully, willfully, and maliciously did wound one cow, of the value of $ 50, of the goods and chattels of J. C. T.  The defendant appealed the conviction contending that the act charged in the indictment didn't constitute an indictable offence in this state.  The Court held that the facts charged in this indictment constitute no indictable offence, and the Court of Over and Terminer should be advised accordingly.

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