Cases

  • *1 The First Amendment restrains government to “make no law ... abridging the freedom of speech.” U.S. Const. amend. I. Speech, as expression, “arcs toward the place where meaning may lie,”1 and when that meaning is hurtful or dislikable—meaningful, perhaps, to the bigot, or the flag burner—courts must be vigilant to affirm First Amendment protection. See Snyder v. Phelps, ––– U.S. ––––, ––––, 131 S.Ct. 1207, 1219, 179 L.Ed.2d 172 (2011); Texas v. Johnson, 491 U.S. 397, 404–405, 109 S.Ct. 2533, 105 L.Ed.2d 342 (1989).

  • The plaintiffs-appellants (Utah Animal Rights Coalition (UARC) and five individuals) filed this 42 U.S.C. § 1983 claim for alleged violations of their First Amendment rights to free speech and to peaceably assemble after the individual plaintiffs attempted to protest a circus in South Jordan, Utah. The district court entered summary judgment against the plaintiffs. On appeal, this court held that, without a showing of harm, the UARC did not meet its burden to demonstrate an injury in fact. The court did find that the individuals properly pleaded harm to establish standing. With regard to the § 1983 action, this court ruled that the district court correctly determined that county officials were entitled to judgment as a matter of law.

  • Plaintiff agreed to watch a couple’s dog while they were out of town. While plaintiff was caring for the dog, the animal bit her on her lower lip. Plaintiff filed a claim with the couple's insurance company. The insurance company rejected the claim because the plaintiff was also "insured," defined to include “any person ... legally responsible” for covered animals, and the policy excluded coverage for bodily injuries to "insureds." Plaintiff filed an action for declaratory judgment against the insurance company, seeking a determination that the policy covered her claim. The insurance company moved for summary judgment, and the district court sustained the insurance company's motion, reasoning that plaintiff was “legally responsible” for the dog because she fed and watered the animal and let it out of the house while the couple was away. The Supreme Court of Nebraska affirmed and held the insurance company was entitled to summary judgment.
  • Village criminal ordinance, which prohibited the owning or harboring of pit bull terriers or other vicious dogs within village limits, was not overbroad, even though identification of a "pit bull" may be difficult in some situations, as there are methods to determine with sufficient certainty whether dog is a "pit bull.".

  • While on a guided trail ride, plaintiff's horse brushed up against a tree that the plaintiff was unable to push away from. As a result, plaintiff's leg and hip sustained injuries and the plaintiff sued the ranch and the ranch's owners. Defendants’ appealed the Wayne County Supreme Court denial for the defendants' motion for summary. On appeal, the court found the Supreme Court properly denied the defendants' motion for summary judgment. First, the court found the defendants failed to meet their initial burden of establishing entitlement to judgment as a matter of law on the issues of the horse's vicious propensity and defendants' knowledge of that propensity.

  • Court awarded custody of rottweiler to wife, after considering testimony adduced (husband was not treating the dog very nicely) and the state of the husband’s home (scrap metal yard and fact 5-year-old child visits regularly).  This decision was made notwithstanding the fact that dog was gift from wife to husband and the dog was registered to husband with AKC.
  • Defendant appealed a conviction for cruelty to animals after several dogs that appeared malnourished and emaciated with no visible food or water nearby were found on Defendant’s property by a police officer and an Animal Control officer.  The Court of Appeals of Texas, Houston, 14th District confirmed the conviction, finding that Defendant waived any error with respect to her motion to suppress evidence by affirmatively stating at trial that Defendant had “no objection” to the admission of evidence. Finally, the Court’s denial of Defendant’s request to show evidence of Defendant’s past practice and routine of caring for stray animals and nursing them to health did not deprive Defendant of a complete defense.

  • Minor sued farmer horse-owner for negligence after farmer's horse bit him. The Appellate Court reversed summary judgment, holding that a fact issue remained as to whether the farmer had notice that the horse belonged to a class of domestic animals that possessed a natural propensity to bite. Such knowledge may make certain injuries foreseeable, giving rise to a duty to use reasonable care to restrain the animal to prevent injury.

  • Court upheld United States Forest Service's decision to allow cattle grazing on land designated as "wilderness" because grazing had been established on the land and because the federal agency had taken the necessary "hard look" at the environmental consequences caused by grazing.

  • Appeal of agency determination of veterinarian malpractice for failure to detect ring worms in a cat. Long case with full discussion of process of administrative hearing and the standards by which to decide if an action is malpractice.

  • A commercial fisherman brought a claim against the Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission alleging substantive due process violations.  The Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission instituted licensing requirements and restrictions on lobster trapping certificates in order to alleviate an overpopulation of lobster traps.  The court held in favor of the Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission, reasoning fishing was not a fundamental right.

  • Virginia Viilo sued the City of Milwaukee and two of its police officers under 42 U.S.C. § 1983 after an officer shot and killed her dog 'Bubba.' The district court denied the defendants' motion for summary judgment on the basis of qualified immunity and the defendants took an interlocutory appeal challenging this denial. The court found that defendants' interjection of factual disputes deprived the court of jurisdiction. The court further held that it is a violation of the Fourth Amendment for a police officer to shoot and kill a companion dog that poses no imminent danger while the dog’s owner is present and trying to assert custody over her pet.  

  • In this Illinois case, the defendant, Joseph R. Fiala, appealed a violation of the Village Code of Carpentersville, which prohibited the ownership of more than two adult dogs at his single-family residence.  In a hearing, one of defendant's neighbor's testified that the defendant was maintaining 15 large red dogs (Irish setters).  The Illinois Appellate Court held that the village had statutory authority to enact any ordinance necessary for the promotion of health, safety and welfare of the community and that a municipality may also pass ordinances that "define, prevent, and abate nuisances."  Further, the court also held that the village ordinance is not unconstitutional as violative of equal protection based on a classification between single-family residences and single-family units within multiple housing buildings, where such considerations of indoor and outdoor space, density, and proximity to others, noise levels, and structural differences, are rationally related to the object of the ordinance.

  • Viva, an animal protective organization, filed action against Adidas shoe retailer alleging that it was violating a state statute banning the import of products made from Australian kangaroo hide into California. On cross motions for summary judgment, the original court sided with Adidas, on the ground that state statute was preempted by federal Endangered Species Act of 1973.  The appeals court affirmed, however the California Superior Court reversed, holding that the state statute was not preempted by federal law. 
  • In this Texas case, the trial court found Appellant Mircea Volosen guilty of animal cruelty for killing a neighbor's dog. The sole issue on appeal is whether the State met its burden of presenting legally sufficient evidence that Volosen was "without legal authority" to kill the dog. By statute, a dog that "is attacking, is about to attack, or has recently attacked ... fowls may be killed by ... any person witnessing the attack." The court found that no rational trier of fact could have determined beyond a reasonable doubt that the dog was not attacking or had not recently attacked chickens in a pen in Volosen's yard; thus, the evidence is legally insufficient to establish that Volosen killed the dog "without legal authority" as required to sustain a conviction for animal cruelty.  Judgment Reversed by Volosen v. State , 227 S.W.3d 77 (Tex.Crim.App., 2007).

  • Appellant killed neighbor's miniature dachshund with a maul when he found it among his chickens in his backyard, and he defends that Health & Safety Code 822 gave him legal authority to do so.  At the bench trial, the judge found him guilty of animal cruelty, but on appeal the court reversed the conviction because it found that the statute gave him legal authority to kill the attacking dog.  However, this court held that appellant did not meet his burden of production to show that the statute was adopted in Colleyville, TX and found as a matter of fact that the dog was not "attacking."

  • The appellant/defendant mauled a miniature dachshund to death after the dog entered a yard where the appellant kept his chickens. The State of Texas prosecuted the appellant/defendant for cruelty to animals on the ground that the appellant/defendant killed the dog without legal authority. The appellant/defendant, however, argued that section 822.033 of the Texas Health and Safety Code, an entirely different statute, provided that authority. After the appeals court reversed the district court’s decision to convict the defendant/appellant, the Texas Court of Criminal Appeals found that the appellant/defendant had failed to meet his burden of production to show the applicability of his claimed defense and thus reversed the court of appeals’ judgment and remand the case back to that court.

  • Judicial officer is not required to accept ALJ's findings of fact, even when those findings are based on credibility determinations, and judicial officer is authorized to substitute his or her judgment for that of ALJ.
  • This case involves an action by a dog owner against farmer for wrongfully impounding dogs and against town constable for wrongfully killing the dogs.  The Vermont Supreme Court held that farmer had acted in a reasonable and prudent manner by contacting the constable, where he never intended to "impound" the dogs when he secured them overnight in his barn after finding them in pursuit of his injured cows.  However, the issue of whether the dogs were wearing a collar as required by state law precluded the granting of a directed verdict for the constable.  (Under state law, a constable was authorized to kill dogs not registered or wearing a prescribed collar.)  The court held that it was necessary for the jury to make this determination.

  • This case involves a defendants' appeal from a judgment entered in the Superior Court wherein the dog officer of the town of Lincoln was found to have negligently destroyed a Great Dane dog and her pup.  The court held that the Rhode Island statute that mandated an officer kill a dog at large preempted the local ordinance that allowed impoundment.  Despite the dog owners' arguments that the statute was outdated and archaic, the court refused to invalidate it.  It thus reversed the jury award to the dog owners.
  • Plaintiff sued dog owners for injuries from a dog attack.  The jury ruled in favor of plaintiff for medical expenses, and plaintiff sought a new trial as to damages only.  The court held that a new trial on damages was appropriate because the jury's failure to award damages for pain and suffering was against the manifest weight of evidence as defendant's liability was established by the viciousness of the dog repeatedly biting plaintiff about the head and face, which was out of proportion to the unintentional act of plaintiff falling onto the sleeping dog.  Unintentional or accidental acts can
    constitute provocation, but not if the dog responds with a vicious attack, as it did here, that is out of all proportion to the unintentional acts involved.

  • Public school student circulated a petition during class and recess that opposed a school field trip to the circus. School officials prevented her from circulating the petition, and she complained of a violation of her First Amendment right to free speech. The Court of Appeals affirmed summary judgment for the school, holding that the student's rights had not been violated because a school may regulate the times and circumstances a petition may be circulated when it interferes with educational goals or the rights of other students.

  • A dog that was constantly in violation of local leash ordinances was held as a stray by the town.  The owner of the dog brought a section 1983 action claiming deprivation of the dog's companionship without due process and the trial court held in favor of the town.  The Court of Appeals affirmed reasoning that only a post-deprivation hearing was necessary under the statute (which defendant could have received had she filed a petition with the court).

  • Pitbull owner filed suit seeking compensatory damages arising from the shotting and killing of his dog by police.  Defendants removed the action based on federal question jurisdiction and moved for summary judgment, and the dog owner moved to amend the complaint.  Motions granted.

  • This appeal concerns the conviction of Anthony Ward for two offences of causing unnecessary suffering to two ponies contrary to Section 4(1)(a) of the Animal Welfare Act 2006. Under Section 34 of the Act, Ward was disqualified from owning and keeping, or participating in keeping, or being a party to an arrangement under which animals are kept for a period of 10 years. This appeal concerns the disqualification. In upholding the disqualification, the court felt that it was justified where defendant had two previous convictions and the last disqualification expired only three years before this offence.

  • In this Maryland case, a dog bite victim filed a negligence and strict liability action against the dog owners and their landlords.  In plaintiff's appeal of the trial court's granting of defendant's motion for summary judgment, the appellate court held that the landlords had no control over the premises where the "dangerous or defective condition" existed and thus had no duty to inspect.  The court found that first, no statute, principle of common law, or provision in the lease imposed upon the landlord the duty to inspect the leased premises to see if a vicious animal was being kept.  Second, there was no evidence presented that, at the time the lease was signed by the landlord, he knew, or would have had any way of knowing, that a vicious animal was to be kept on the premises.

  • In this Alabama case, defendant Walter Tyrone Ware was indicted on six counts of owning, possessing, keeping, and/or training a dog for fighting purposes, and one count of possessing a controlled substance.  Police were dispatched to defendant's residence after receiving an anonymous tip about alleged dogfighting.  Upon arriving, police found a bleeding dog on the ground next to an SUV, a puppy in the SUV, and 22 more pit bull dogs in the backyard.  Most of the dogs were very thin or emaciated, and at least two dogs had fresh cuts or puncture wounds.  On appeal, defendant claimed that there was no evidence that he had attended a dog fight or hosted one.  However, the court observed that Alabama's dogfighting statute does not require such direct evidence; rather, a case was made based on evidence of training equipment, injured dogs, and the dogs' aggressive behavior exhibited at the animal shelter after seizure. 

  • The United States initiated an action seeking an interpretation of Indian fishing rights under treaties with Indian tribes of the Pacific Northwest.  The Court held that the language of the treaties securing a "right of taking fish . . . in common with all citizens of the Territory" was not intended merely to guarantee the Indians access to usual and accustomed fishing sites and an "equal opportunity" for individual Indians, along with non-Indians, to try to catch fish, but instead secures to the Indian tribes a right to harvest a share of each run of anadromous fish that passes through tribal fishing areas.  Thus, an equitable measure of the common right to take fish should initially divide the harvestable portion of each run that passes through a "usual and accustomed" place into approximately equal treaty and nontreaty shares, and should then reduce the treaty share if tribal needs may be satisfied by a lesser amount.  The Court also held that any state-law prohibition against compliance with the District Court's decree cannot survive the command of the Supremacy Clause, and the State Game and Fisheries Departments, as parties to this litigation, may be ordered to prepare a set of rules that will implement the court's interpretation of the parties' rights even if state law withholds from them the power to do so.

  • The respondent had been acquitted of causing unnecessary suffering to rabbits (contrary to the Protection of Animals Act 1911, s. 1(1)) by releasing them into a fenced enclosure from which they had no reasonable chance of escape, before setting dogs after them. Dismissing the prosecutor's appeal, the Divisional Court held that the respondent's conduct fell within the exception provided for "hunting or coursing" by sub-s. (3) (b) of s. 1of the 1911 Act. From the moment that the captive animal is liberated to be hunted or coursed, it falls outwith the protection of the 1911 Act, irrespective of whether the hunting or coursing is humane or sportsmanlike.

  • In this Utah case, defendant Powell took his dog to a kennel managed by plaintiff Waters to be boarded for a few days. Waters took the dog to a play area to be introduced to the other dogs where the dog bit Waters. Waters filed a complaint against Powell alleging that he was strictly liable for the injury the dog inflicted. On interlocutory appeal, the Court of Appeals held that Waters was a "keeper" of the dog for purposes of the state's dog bite statute (sec. 18-1-1). Waters essentially conceded on appeal that if she is a keeper then she is precluded from asserting a strict liability claim against Powell. Thus, the district court's denial of summary judgment was reversed and the case remanded with instructions that Powell's summary judgment motion be granted.

  • Defendants were convicted of attack by dog resulting in death (Tex. Health & Safety Code § 822.005(a)(1)) after a 7-year-old was killed by several of defendants' pit bull dogs. On this appeal, appellants contend that the statute fails to define the terms “attack” and “unprovoked,” and that it fails to specify what conduct is prohibited, resulting in arbitrary enforcement. Thus, jurors could have determined different definitions of the elements of the offense, violating the unanimous jury guarantees of the Texas and United States Constitutions. The Court of Criminal Appeals disagreed, finding, "[t]he statute contains objective criteria for determining what conduct is prohibited and therefore does not permit arbitrary enforcement." The Court of Criminal Appeals affirmed the Court of Appeals decision stating that the Dog Attack statute did not violate Due Process and that the defendants' convictions did not violate the unanimous jury guarantees of the Texas or the U.S. constitution.

  • This is an appeal of a district court decision on property damages from plaintiff's car hitting defendant's cow.  On appeal, the Court determined that the animal owners did not violate a closed range statute merely because their cow was on a public highway, that the presence of an animal on a public highway does not establish that the animal owners were negligent, and that the driver of an automobile has a duty to maintain a reasonable outlook for animals on public highways.

  • The court applied the forum's traditional lex loci conflict-of-laws rule to determine what jurisdiction's law governed for both damages and recovery of possession. The "place of injury" for the tort/damages issue was Kansas since that's where the contract was signed. The court remanded the case to determine the law of the place where the dog was found to determine the right-to-possession since that was a personal property issue.

  • Veterinary costs and consequential losses are also allowed in determining damages, according this Kansas case. It should be noted that the animal at issue here was a domestic pig versus a companion animal, and the award of damages was secured by a statute that allows recovery for all damages for attacks on domestic animals by dogs.


  • Following the Tracey v. Solesky opinion, a nonprofit, nonstock cooperative housing corporation issued a rule that banned pit bulls on its premises.  Members and leaseholders who owned dogs believed to be pit bulls sought a temporary restraining order and preliminary injunction against the corporation and the state of Maryland in an amended complaint. Although the district court found the plaintiffs had adequately demonstrated standing and ripeness in their claims, the court also found that some of the leaseholders and members' charges were barred by 11th Amendment immunity and by absolute judicial immunity. Additionally, the district court found that the leaseholders and members' amended complaint failed to plead plausible void-for-vagueness, substantive due process and takings claims. The district court, therefore, granted the state's motion to dismiss and held all other motions pending before the court to be denied as moot.
  • In this California case, damages were assessed beyond the purchase price of a dog involved in a hit and run case where the defendant negligently ran over and killed a 15 month old pure-bred Waeimaraner. After the defendant ran over the dog, he shot the dog and buried it. The next morning he contacted the veterinarian listed on the collar, as well as the owner of the dog. The court upheld the jury verdict of $1,500 since the purchase price was determined to not reflect the market value at the time of the dog’s death.

  • The plaintiffs, owners of a seven-year-old trained, registered full blood German Shepherd dog, sued the defendants for the loss of this dog from the kennels at the animal hospital owned and operated by the defendant. The dog had been boarded at defendant's place and while there escaped from the kennel and was never found. This case set the wheels in motion for companion animals damages in Florida when the court affirmed a verdict of $1000, for a purebred dog. The court declined in only applying the fair market value and held that recovery could include special or pecuniary value to the owner.

  • In this Oregon case, plaintiff filed this action to recover for personal injuries sustained when she was bitten by defendants' dog. The complaint alleged a cause of action for strict liability and another for negligence. The trial court granted a judgment of involuntary nonsuit on both causes of action. On appeal, this court found the previous biting, which had occurred only one hour before, could reasonably lead a jury to believe that the dog had dangerous propensities, and that the defendants had knowledge of them. Thus, the court found that the involuntary nonsuit on the strict liability cause was improperly granted. Further, the question of whether the owner, who knew the dog had bitten the guest while on her way into the owner's house, was negligent in failing to control or confine the dog, was for the jury. Reversed and remanded.

  • The plaintiff, Western Watersheds Project (WWP), is an environmental group that brought this lawsuit to ban livestock grazing in certain areas of the Jarbidge Field Office (1.4 million acres of public land managed by the Bureau of Land Management in Idaho and northern Nevada). WWP alleges that continued grazing destroys what little habitat remains for imperiled species like the sage grouse, pygmy rabbit, and slickspot peppergrass (deemed “sensitive species” by the BLM).  After ten days of evidentiary hearings, the court found that three sensitive species in the JFO are in serious decline and that livestock grazing is an important factor in that decline. However, the court found that a ban on grazing was not required by law at this point since the Court was "confident" in the BLM's ability to modify the 2009 season in accordance with the Court's interpretation of the existing RMP.

  • Plaintiff Western Watersheds Project filed the instant action challenging the “90-Day Finding” issued by the Defendants United States Fish and Wildlife Service that denied protection of the Interior Mountain Quail as endangered or threatened under the Endangered Species Act. The Service determined that the Petition had failed to provide information demonstrating that the Interior Mountain Quail population is discrete under the ESA. The District Court stated that, in order to qualify as a DPS, a population must “be both discrete and significant.” The court found that the Service's conclusion appropriately determined that this discreteness standard was not met and it provided a rational basis for concluding the Petition had failed to provide evidence of a marked separation between the populations of the same taxon.

  • Plaintiff environmental advocacy organization sued the Bureau of Land Management (BLM) for revisions to nationwide grazing regulations for federal lands. Plaintiff argued that the 2006 Regulations violated the Endangered Species Act (ESA), the National Environmental Policy Act (NEPA), and the Federal Land Policy and Management Act (FLPMA). The Court of Appeals found for the plaintiff, holding that BLM violated NEPA by failing to take a “hard look” at the environmental consequences of the proposed regulatory changes. BLM also violated the ESA by failing to consult with Fish and Wildlife Service (FWS) before approving the revisions. The FLPMA claim was remanded.

  • Plaintiff environmental advocacy organization sued the Bureau of Land Management (BLM) for revisions to nationwide grazing regulations for federal lands, arguing that the revisions violated the Endangered Species Act (ESA), the National Environmental Policy Act (NEPA), and the Federal Land Policy and Management Act (FLPMA). The Court of Appeals held that BLM violated NEPA by failing to take a “hard look” at the environmental consequences of the proposed changes, and violated the ESA by failing to consult with Fish and Wildlife Service (FWS) before approving the revisions. Opinion Amended and Superseded on Denial of Rehearing en banc by: Western Watersheds Project v. Kraayenbrink, 632 F.3d 472 (9th Cir., 2010).

  • Defendant convicted of cruelty for intentionally or knowingly torturing his cattle by failing to provide necessary food or care, causing them to die. Defendant lacked standing to challenge warrantless search of property because he had no expectation of privacy under open fields doctrine.

  • In June 2010, Australia commenced proceedings against Japan at the International Court of Justice (ICJ), alleging that Japan has continued an extensive whaling program in breach of its obligations as a signatory to the International Convention for the Regulation of Whaling (ICRW). At issue was the moratorium on commercial whaling agreed upon in the 1980s. According to Australia, though Japan claimed to be killing whales purely for scientific reasons, the true purpose of the program was commercial. Japan did not deny that it was killing whales in the Antarctic, but claimed instead that because the ICRW grants each nation state the right to issue licenses for scientific whaling as it sees fit, Japan’s whaling program was legal. The ICJ ruled that Japan's Antarctic whaling program was not actually for scientific whaling and must end.
  • Plaintiff's dog was picked up by animal control for running-at-large. The plaintiff expressed his intent to reclaim the dog but before doing so the holding period expired and the dog was euthanized. The plaintiff sued the veterinarian for conversion. The court held that the euthanasia was not conversion because the impoundment ordinance gave the animal shelter a right to euthanize the dog after the holding period expired.

  • Plaintiff Whelen was drunken, threatening and disorderly in defendant Barlow's hotel bar, where he kept guard dogs for the purpose of preventing break-ins and keeping the peace. After the plaintiff and friends were asked to leave the premises and not return, he later returned, making threatening gestures and was bitten on the face and arm by one of the guard-dogs. The court held that the plaintiff was 2/3 contributorily liable for his injuries, since when he returned he was trespassing; the defendant was 1/3 contributorily liable since the court held that keeping volatile guard-dogs as bouncers was not reasonable.

  • The Plaintiff-Appellants are citizens (show bird breeders, feed store owners, and game bird judges) who allege that the AWA amendments to § 2156 concerning animal fighting ventures have caused them various individual and collective injuries. The plaintiffs-appellants allege that these provisions are unconstitutional insofar as they constitute a bill of attainder; violate the principles of federalism contained in, inter alia, the Ninth, Tenth, and Eleventh Amendments to the United States Constitution; and unduly impinge on the plaintiffs-appellants' First Amendment right of association, constitutional right to travel, and Fifth Amendment right to due process for deprivations of property and liberty. The district court dismissed the lawsuit for lack of Article III standing. The Sixth Circuit held that while economic injuries may constitute an injury-in-fact for the purposes of Article III standing, the plaintiffs' alleged economic injuries due to restrictions on cockfighting are not traceable only to the AWA. Additionally, because the AWA does not impose any penalties without a judicial trial, it is not a bill of attainder. The decision of the district court was affirmed.

  • Appellant was tried by a jury and found guilty of four counts of cruelty to animals concerning four Arabian horses. On appeal, appellant raised a sufficiency of the evidence challenge and a Rule 404(b) challenge to the admission of testimony and pictures concerning the condition of appellant's dogs and her house. The court found the photographic evidence was admissible for purposes other than to prove appellant's character, e.g., to show her knowledge of neglect of animals within her house, and thereby the absence of mistake or accident concerning the horses that lived outside.

  • Defendant was a person with a psychiatric disability and living in public housing. Defendant claimed to have an emotional and psychological dependence on her cat. The court held that the housing authority discriminated against defendant under Section 504 of the Rehabilitation Act for failure to waive the no pets policy as a reasonable accommodation for the mental disability. The court noted that there must be a narrow exception "to the rigid application of a no-pet rule, involving no untoward collateral consequences," because the handicapped person could fully receive the benefits of the program if provided the accommodation.

  • A dog owner had purchased a Newfoundland dog from a breeder and signed a contract that stated she would return the dog to the breeder if she could no longer care for it. After the dog attacked another dog, the owner had the obligation to return the dog to the breeder. A third party, the owner’s friend attempted to help the owner and contacted the breeder to notify her about the owner's intention to return the dog. The breeder was busy on that particular day. She was with another dog delivering another litter of puppies and could not come to pick up the owner's dog. The owner then sold the dog to the defendant, a dog breeder and co-chair of the Newfoundland Club of New England Rescue. The rescue worker had prepared a bill of sale, which the owner signed, and the rescue worker then handed the owner $100 to help with expenses. The trial court held that the transfer to the rescue worker was not a bona fide sale. The rescue worker took possession of the dog in her capacity as a member of the rescue organization and not as a bona fide buyer. The court also found that the original breeder had not given up her contract rights to the dog. The breeder was handling an emergency delivery of puppies with a different dog, which made it reasonable that she could not pick up the owner's dog that day. The defendant rescue worker knew the breeder had not relinquished her contractual ownership right to the dog and so the court held that the plaintiff was the sole owner and entitled to sole possession.

Pages