Cases

  • In a tax proceeding, the Commissioner argues that defendant should be disallowed a charitable deduction for donating several artifacts containing eagle parts to a museum because it will frustrate the purpose behind the BGEPA.  The court disagrees, finding it unlikely that such an allowance will encourage others to procure eagle artifacts for the sole purpose of obtaining a tax deduction.  Further, the court disagrees with the Commissioner that Sammons acquired illegal title to the artifacts, finding Sammons had sufficient ownership interest in the eagle artifacts for donation.  For further discussion on commerce in eagle parts under the BGEPA, see Detailed Discussion of Eagle Act.

  • Agency's choice of sanction is not to be overturned unless it is unwarranted by law, unjustified by facts, or represents abuse of discretion; sanction is not rendered invalid in particular case because it is more severe than sanctions imposed in other cases.
  • In this civil rights action under 42 U.S.C. § 1983, Defendants-Appellants, seven San Jose City Police Officers and Deputy Sheriff Linderman, appeal from an order of the district court denying in part their motions for qualified immunity. This action arises out of the simultaneous execution of search warrants at the residences of members of the Hells Angels, and at the Hells Angels clubhouse on January 21, 1998. While executing search warrants at two plaintiffs' residences, the officers shot a total of three dogs. This court held that the shooting of the dogs at the Vieira and Souza residences was an unreasonable seizure, and an unreasonable execution of the search warrants, in violation of the Fourth Amendment. Exigent circumstances did not exist at either residence, as the officers had a week to consider the options and tactics available for an encounter with the dogs. The unlawfulness of the officers' conduct would have been apparent to a reasonable officer at the time the officers planned for serving the search warrants.

  • In this case, Heather Sanders filed suit against Joseph D. Frank after she suffered injuries as a result of rescuing Frank’s horses that were running at large. The lower court dismissed Sander’s complaint with prejudice and Sanders appealed. On appeal, Sanders asserted four main arguments: (1) the doctrine of contributory negligence and assumption of the risk should not be applied when defendant negligently violates a statute; (2) the rescue doctrine should preclude the assumption of the risk doctrine even though Sanders voluntarily assisted in the capture of the horses; (3) the trial court erred in applying the assumption of risk doctrine; and (4) the trial court erred by preventing recovery of damages. Ultimately, the court of appeals reviewed the case and affirmed the lower court’s decision to dismiss the complaint. The court found that all four of Sander’s arguments were without merit. The court held that although Frank had negligently violated a statute, allowing his horses to escape and run at large, Sanders voluntarily assisted in the capture of the horses and was not responding to any immediate emergency or threat to human life. Also, the court pointed out that Sanders had “assumed the risk” based on the fact that she had helped rescue Frank’s horses in the past. As a result, the lower court did not err in dismissing Sander’s claim based on contributory negligence and the assumption of the risk doctrine.

  • Deborah Sanzaro and Michael Sanzaro are the plaintiffs in this action. Plaintiffs are homeowners and members of a homeowners association ("HOA"). Three incidents occurred at the HOA clubhouse in which Deborah Sanzaro attempted to enter with her Chihuahua, which she claimed was a service animal. In each of these three incidents, Deborah was denied access to the clubhouse. The first incident occurred on March 11, 2009. Deborah entered the club house with her dog and the manager of the HOA asked her why she brought the dog into the clubhouse with her. Deborah explained that her dog assisted her with her disability and was a service animal, however, she could not provide any documentation to the manager as to that effect. She was then asked to leave the clubhouse to which she refused. Only after security was called did Deborah leave. Later, on that same day, Deborah entered the clubhouse with her service dog without any incident. The HOA sent a letter to the plaintiffs after the first incident notifying them that that Deborah had violated the HOA’s governing documents and that a hearing before the HOA board would take place on March 30, 2009. Plaintiffs never showed for this hearing which ultimately resulted in the Board finding that Deborah violated HOA rules and regulations by entering the clubhouse with her dog and not providing documentation. Deborah was assessed multiple fines. Prior to the hearing, the HOA sent out letters to the other residents letting them know that they would accommodate any legitimate service animal if their staff is properly advised of such. They also mailed out a letter regarding the incident with the plaintiffs to all of the other residents. The plaintiffs began to receive hate mail and verbal harassment regarding their dispute with the HOA board. The plaintiffs received many threats and had their property defaced by an anonymous homeowner who spray painted their garage door telling them to get out of the neighborhood. The HOA did nothing to stop this harassment. Plaintiffs filed a complaint with the Nevada Real Estate Division and their claim was submitted to a non-binding arbitrator. Deborah provided a doctor’s statement requesting that her dog be registered as a service dog, a notice of entitlement to disability benefits from the SSA, a doctor’s statement regarding Deborah’s disability, and a statement from Deborah explaining how her dog had been trained to assist her. The Arbitrator found for the Ardiente Homeowners Association because she did not find Deborah’s explanation as to why she needed the dog as being persuasive. The arbitration decision was upheld by the Eighth Judicial District Court of Clark County, Nevada as well as by the Nevada Supreme Court. On July 26, 2010, Plaintiffs entered the clubhouse again with the dog. They were told that they could not come in unless they provided more documentation despite the documentation that the Deborah had provided during the arbitration proceeding. On January 29, 2011 the plaintiffs entered the clubhouse again with the dog and they were again denied entry until the plaintiffs could provide documentation that the dog was a registered service animal. The HOA eventually foreclosed on the plaintiff’s home in order to recover the fines and attorney’s fees that were owed. Plaintiffs then brought 102 causes of action in federal court under the ADA and FHA which were pared down to two questions: (1) whether the HOA clubhouse was a place of public accommodation under the ADA and NRS § 651.075, and (2) whether Plaintiffs requested, and were ultimately refused, a reasonable accommodation under the FHA. For the plaintiff ADA claims, the District Court found that Deborah is disabled as a matter of law and that the HOA and other defendants were aware of her disability at least as of July 27, 2009 (the date of the arbitration). The Court also found that the clubhouse was not a place of public accommodation and that the entire community including the clubhouse was a private establishment. As a result the plaintiffs were not able to establish a claim for disability discrimination under the ADA. For the plaintiff’s FHA claims, the Court found the following: Deborah was qualified as handicapped under the FHA; the defendants were reasonably expected to know about her handicap; an accommodation was necessary for Deborah to use the clubhouse; the dog qualified as a service animal and permitting the dog to accompany Deborah was a reasonable accommodation; and the defendants refused to make the requested accommodation which makes them liable. For the Nevada law claim, it failed because the community and clubhouse are a private establishment and were not considered public accommodations. Plaintiffs were entitled to damages for their FHA claims only. The Court ultimately found in favor of the plaintiffs and awarded $350,000 in compensatory damages, $285,000 in punitive damages and attorneys’ fees and costs of litigation.
  • A dog bite victim sought damages against absentee landlords after the tenant's bull mastiff dog bit him in right thigh. The deposition testimony of one landlord indicated that he visited the rental house approximately once per month to collect rent and check on the house in general, and only on two of those occasions did he see the dog. During one of these visits, he petted the dog without incident. Thus, the landlord established that he neither knew nor should have known that the dog had vicious propensities, and that he did not have sufficient control over the premises to allow him to remove or confine the dog.

  • This Georgia involves an interlocutory appeal arising from a dog bite lawsuit. In 2016, Plaintiff Saulsbury was walking her English Bulldog past Defendant Wilson's house when Wilson's pitbull dog escaped its crate in the open garage. A fight ensued between the dogs. Wilson then attempted to break up the fight and was allegedly bitten by Saulsbury's dog, suffering a broken arm in the process and necessitating a course of rabies shots. The Saulsburys then sued the Wilsons in magistrate court to recover hospital and veterinary expenses. Wilson counterclaimed for her injuries in excess $15,000, thus transferring the case to superior court. At this time, the Saulsburys moved for summary judgment, which the trial court denied. The Court of Appeals here reverses that denial. The court found that Wilson assumed the risk when she intervened in a dog fight with her bare hands. In particular, the court observed that assumption of risk serves as a complete defense to negligence. That finding was bolstered by the fact that Wilson had knowledge that her dog had previously bitten other persons and had admitted to breaking up previous dog fights with a stick. The court relied on previous case law showing that all animals, even domesticated animals, pose a risk as does the act of breaking up even human fights. The court was not persuaded by the fact that Saulsbury may have been in violation of various DeKalb County ordinances related to an owner's responsibility to control his or her animal. A plain reading of those ordinances does not impose a duty on the part of an owner to "dangerously insert herself into a dog fight." The court found the lower court erred in denying the Saulsbury's motion for summary judgment and reversed and remanded the case.
  • Two Louisiana "game clubs" filed an action for declaratory judgment and injunctive relief against parish commission and parish sheriff's office after being informed by the sheriff that an existing parish ordinance prohibiting cockfighting would be enforced. The clubs contended that the ordinance was violative of the police power reserved explicitly to the state (the state anti-cruelty provision is silent with regard to cockfighting).  The First Judicial District Court, Parish of Caddo granted the clubs' request for a preliminary injunction.  The Supreme Court reversed the injunction and remanded the matter, finding that the parish ordinance prohibiting cockfighting did not violate general law or infringe upon State's police powers in violation of Constitution.

  • After being informed by the Caddo Sheriff's Office that a 1987 Parish ordinance prohibiting cockfighting would be enforced, two organizations, who had held cockfighting tournaments since the late 1990s and the early 2000s, filed a petition for declaratory judgment and injunctive relief. After the trial court granted the organizations' request for a preliminary injunction, the Parish commission appealed and the court of appeals affirmed. Upon granting writ of certiorari and relying on the home rule charter, the Supreme Court of Louisiana found that local governments may authorize or prohibit the conduct of cockfighting tournaments within municipal boundaries. The case was therefore reversed and remanded to the district court with the injunction being vacated.

  • An Organization dedicated to the protection of the Karner Blue Butterfly and other species that live in an area of land used as a nature preserve brought challenge against the City Common Council’s; (“Council”) approval of a Developer’s rezoning application for the land.   The Supreme Court, Appellate Division, Third Department, New York, held that the Organization had standing to bring suit, because the Organization showed the existence of an actual injury different from that of the general public, due to the Organization’s regular use of the preserve, at least one member’s nearby residency to the preserve, and the Organization’s historic involvement in the protection and preservation of the preserve. (2010 - Order Reversed by Save the Pine Bush, Inc. v. Common Council of City of Albany, 13 N.Y.3d 297, 918 N.E.2d 917, 890 N.Y.S.2d 405, 2009 N.Y. Slip Op. 07667 (N.Y. Oct 27, 2009) (NO. 134)).  

  • Contractor brought a premises liability action against homeowners after falling over their dog.  Contractor was descending from a ladder while working on homeowners' premises and stepped on the dog at the base of the ladder.  The trial court held in favor of the contractor because the homeowners' dog made the yard foreseeably dangerous and the appellate court affirmed. 

  • A city ordered a dog to be destroyed after three separate biting incidents. Upon the owner’s appeal of the city’s determinations, the appeals court reversed the city’s decision to destroy the dog because the city had not allowed the owner an opportunity to challenge the “potentially dangerous” determination. The appeals court (800 N.W.2d 663 (Minn.App.,2011) held the city had therefore violated the owner’s procedural due process rights. Upon review by the Supreme Court of Minnesota, however, the court held that the owner’s procedural due process rights were not violated because the “potentially dangerous” determination did not deprive the owner of a property interest and because the city satisfied the basic requirements of procedural due process. Additionally, the court found that the dangerous dog and the destruction determinations were not arbitrary or capricious. The court therefore reversed the decision of the court of appeals, upheld the city's “dangerous dog” determination, and affirmed the city's order of destruction.

  • The city council ordered the destruction of a dog after finding it to be a dangerous animal and the owner appealed. The Court of Appeals held that procedural due process required that the owner should have been given a meaningful opportunity to contest the declaration of the dog as a “potentially dangerous animal” before it was declared a “dangerous animal” under the city ordinance.

  • In this small claims action, the plaintiff purchased an unhealthy dog from defendant that died soon after purchase.  The court held that the plaintiff is not limited to the remedies provided by General Business Law § 753 (1), which sets forth a consumer's right to a refund and/or reimbursement for certain expenses incurred in connection with the purchase of an unhealthy dog or cat, as plaintiff's dog came within the definition of "goods" as set forth in UCC 2-105 and defendant was a "merchant" within the meaning of UCC 2- 104 (1).  Accordingly, plaintiff could recover damages pursuant to UCC 2-714 on the theory that defendant breached the implied warranty of merchantability.  The case was remanded for a new trial to solely on the issue of damages limited to any sales tax paid by plaintiff that was not reimbursed by the insurance policy and the reasonable cost of veterinary expenses incurred.

  • Horse owner sued veterinarians and equine hospital for professional malpractice after horse was euthanized less than two months after surgery to remove horse’s ovaries. The Superior Court granted summary judgment for defendants based on the one-year statute of limitations. The Court of Appeal affirmed, holding that equitable tolling did not apply because plaintiff was not prevented from pursuing her claim in a timely manner by the defendants or the court. A provision in the Medical Injury Compensation Reform Act extending the statute of limitations by 90 days did not apply absent a claim for personal injury or wrongful death to a person.

  • A dog that wandered onto defendant’s property was shot and killed by defendant. The dog’s owners sued under an intentional tort theory and a claim for loss of companionship. The Supreme Court upheld the award of economic damages for the intentional destruction of property. It also held that the owners could not recover noneconomic damages for emotional distress under Vermont common law.

  • This appeal is an appeal of the denial of defendant's motion for summary judgment in a defamation action. Plaintiff, an attorney, brought an action against Hector L. Mejias Jr., an employee of defendant Ulster County Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals, claiming that Mejias falsely accused him of misrepresenting himself as the Ulster County District Attorney during a sworn deposition. The statement occurred during an incident at the SPCA where Plaintiff-Schindler was trying to pick up a dog owned by his client. The particular issue on appeal is whether the supreme court erred in determining that Mejias's supporting deposition constitutes libel per se. The court found that the alleged act was sufficiently egregious because such a claim would suggest professional misconduct on an attorney's part and invites both disciplinary action and damage to an attorney's professional reputation. Further, defendants failed to meet their burden of showing an absence of malice. The order was affirmed.

  • Sadie, a six (6) year old pit bull and family pet was shot and killed by the Defendant Officer Wittlinger. The Plaintiff, Sadie’s owner, filed a twelve count complaint alleging four § 1983 claims under federal law against all Defendants including the borough, police department, board of supervisors, police chief, and Officer Wittlinger. The remaining eight counts alleged claims solely against the officer. The Defendants' filed a partial motion to dismiss for failure to state a claim. The Court granted the dismissal of claims against the board, police chief, and officer in their official capacities. The court also dismissed the Plaintiff’s state negligence claims. However, the court did not dismiss claims brought against Police Chief Bazzone and Officer Wittlinger in their individual capacities. The court reasoned that the facts pled by the Plaintiff were sufficient to show that Chief Bazzone may have acted with deliberate indifference by not disciplining Officer Wittlinger after a prior dog shooting incident, and maintained a custom within the Police Department that it was proper to shoot a pet dog wandering the streets. The court also denied the motion to dismiss Plaintiff’s fourth amendment rights claim. The court reasoned that the facts pled by the Plaintiff were sufficient to state a claim for violation of her Fourth Amendment rights because the plaintiff had a possessory interest in her dog Sadie as “property” and the officer used excessive force while seizing the Plaintiff’s property.
  • The plaintiff’s dog jumped her fence and after encountering a couple of friendly people in the neighborhood, was confronted by two police officers. At the same time the officers arrived, the plaintiff and her sister arrived at the scene. The plaintiff’s sister yelled to the officer, “that’s our dog,” and while displaying no signs of aggression, with her owner 10-15 feet away, an officer shot the dog four times, killing her. The officer had previous similar encounters with dogs, having shot another dog approximately six months prior to this event. In evaluating the immunity of the police officer, the court held that the plaintiff failed to establish an exception to immunity under the Pennsylvania Subdivision Tort Claims Act. However, the court denied the defendants’ motion to dismiss the plaintiff’s Fourth Amendment claims.
  • This appeal to the Oregon Supreme Court related to the mental state requirement in determining an animal owner's liability for escape of cattle.  The Oregon Supreme Court, on review, held that simple rather than criminal negligence was the correct level of culpability for determining an animal owner's liability, and damages are available under a statute making an animal owner liable if an animal is permitted to escape onto another's property.

  • In this Alabama case, there was an injury to a non-tenant child by a dog bite, and the defendant was a landlord.  The attack occurred off the rented premises in the public street.    The action was based upon negligence, that is, a failure to protect against a dangerous condition.   The key to such a claim is the knowledge of the landlord. Plaintiff presented no evidence of the landlord being aware of the dog let alone that he knew of its vicious propensity.   The court did not find a duty to inspect the premises and discover this information.  The court did not reach the point that the attack occurred off the premises.  The granting of the motion for summary judgment for the landlord was upheld.

  • On July 22, 2003, plaintiff filed suit alleging violations of her constitutional rights under 42 U.S.C. § 1983, various state common law claims, and violation of the Oregon Property Protection Act (plaintiff's neighbor complained to animal control in May 2001 after hearing the rabbits "screaming and dying"). Plaintiff's claims arise from the seizure of over 400 rabbits from her property, and the subsequent adoption and/or euthanasia of these rabbits. Defendants move for summary judgment on grounds of qualified immunity, failure to allege the proper defendant, and failure to provide notice under the Oregon Tort Claims Act. In granting defendants' motion for summary judgment, the Court found that even if the officers' entry and seizure of plaintiff's property was unlawful, they reasonably believed their actions to be lawful, therefore affording them qualified immunity protection. Further, the court found no taking occurred where the rabbits were euthanized and/or adopted out as part of a initial criminal forfeiture action.

  • Two Seattle taxpayers filed a taxpayer action lawsuit against the city of Seattle for violating Washington’s animal cruelty statute and Seattle’s animal cruelty ordinance with regard to a zoo’s elephant exhibit. After the lawsuit was dismissed by the King County Superior Court for lack of taxpayer standing, plaintiffs appealed the court’s decision. The appeals court affirmed the lower court’s decision because the plaintiffs’ complaint alleged the zoological society, not the city, acted illegally and because the operating agreement between the city and the zoological society made it clear that the zoological society, not the city, had exclusive control over the operations of the elephant exhibit. Significantly, the appeals court found that a city’s contractual funding obligations to a zoological society that  cares and owns an animal exhibit at a zoo is not enough to allege a city violated animal cruelty laws.

  • Appeal concerning the Freedom of Information Act 2000 and experiments involving animals. The BUAV had made an information request in respect of five research project licenses issued under the Animals (Scientific Procedures) Act 1986. The Home Office released limited summary information, relying on exemptions under FOIA to reason this; namely under section 24(1) which would prohibit information from being disclosed that had been given “in confidence.” The Court of Appeal upheld the decision that the Home Office was entitled to refuse BUAV’s information request.
  • Owners of commercial timberland designated as northern spotted owl nesting habitat brought suit against the United States, alleging that the land was temporarily taken when the Fish and Wildlife Service (FWS) denied their application to cut timber on the property which had been considered critical habitat for the endangered species. The appeals court upheld the lower court and held that no adequate claim for a "takings" was made.

  • Charles Dill, appellee, brought this action in the Municipal Court of Marion County, Indiana, therein alleging that the defendant-appellant, Harold Seidner, maliciously and intentionally shot and killed plaintiff's dog. The case essentially involved a companion animal that was shot and killed by the defendant neighbor who alleged that the dog was after his livestock. A statute in Indiana provided that a person was authorized to kill a dog “known” for “roaming” that harmed or threatened to harm the livestock. A verdict of six hundred dollars for the wrongful killing of the dog was affirmed. This case, however, was subsequently overruled  by Puckett v. Miller , 178 Ind. App. 174 (Ind. App. Ct. 1978).

  • This was an action originally instituted by Sentell in the civil district court for the parish of Orleans, to recover the value of a Newffoundland bitch, known as 'Countess Lona,' alleged to have been negligently killed by the railroad company.  The company answered, denying the allegation of negligence, and set up as a separate defense that plaintiff had not complied either with the requirements of the state law, or of the city ordinances, with respect to the keeping of dogs, and was therefore not entitled to recover.  Recognizing that an owner has only a conditional interest in a dog as a form of property, the Supreme Court held that the Louisiana law was within its police power, and the judgment of the court of appeals against plaintiff was therefore affirmed.

  • Sentencia C-041 is one of the most important court decisions on bullfighting. On this occasion, the court held unconstitutional Article 5 of Ley 1774 of 2016 that referred to the Article 7 of the Statute of Animal Protection. Article 7 contains the seven activities that involve animals for entertainment that are exempted from the duty of animal protection. The practices permitted correspond to rejoneo, coleo, bullfighting, novilladas, corralejas, becerradas and tientas (all variations of bullfighting), cockfighting and all the related practices. Even though the court held that the legislature had fallen into a lack of constitutional protection towards animals, and stated that bullfighting was cruel and inhumane, it deferred the effects of its sentence and gave Congress a two-year period to decide whether bullfighting and the other exception established in Article 7 of the Statute of Animal Protection will continue to be legally allowed. If after this period, the Congress has not legislated on the matter, decision C-041, 2017 will take full effect and bullfighting along with all the practices established in Article 7 will be considered illegal.
  • Decision C-1192/05 decides on a claim of unconstitutionality against Articles 1, 2, 22 and 80 of the Taurine Regulatory Statute ley 916 of 2004. In this occasion, the court upheld the constitutionality of this law confirming bullfighting as an artistic expression allowed by the Constitution: “A manifestation of Colombia’s diversity, as intangible good that symbolizes one of the many historical-cultural traditions of the Nation.” The Court stated that since bullfighting is a cultural manifestation of the nation, children do not need to be protected from this practice. The Court believes “children should be provided the opportunity to attend these events so that they can learn and judge for themselves if bullfighting is an art form, or an outdated violent practice. For that reason, the statute does not violate the fundamental rights of children. The court also held that bullfighting is not part of the interpretation of Article 12 that corresponds to the prohibition of torture. The text of the norm speaks about violence and cruel treatment as an “anthropological vision of the human being” the court asserts. With this decision, the Constitutional Court affirms that animals, in this case bulls, are not entitled to any rights. The court considered tradition and culture of a higher value than animal protection.
  • This is an unconstitutionality claim against Articles 1º, 2º and 3º of Ley 1638, 2013 that prohibit the use of native and exotic wild animals in circuses. Plaintiffs argued that these Articles violated numerous provisions of the Constitution, including the right to work, right to choose a profession, rights to culture and recreation, and a violation to the freedom private initiative of the owners of the circuses. In decision C-283, the court held that Congress has the power to prohibit certain cultural manifestations that involve animal cruelty. The Court stated that “culture needs to be permanently reevaluated so it can adapt to human evolution, to guarantee of rights and the fulfillment of duties. Especially when the purpose is to eliminate the traces of a marginalized society that has excluded certain individuals and collectives.” The court also stated that the duty to protect animals is not absolute, as its application can be limited by values, principles and constitutional norms in specific cases that are contradictory to the principales. The judge must analyze each case under a reasonableness test, in a way that cultural manifestations can work harmoniously with the rights, principles, and duties established in the legal system. The Court held Article 1 of Ley 1638, 2013 constitutional, and refrains from deciding on the constitutionality of Articles 2 and 3, for lack of evidence to render a decision.
  • This is an unconstitutionality claim against Article 87 of Ley 769, 2002 (Trafic Code), relating the transportation of animals on vehicles of public transportation. Article 87 of Ley 769, established that only guide dogs could travel in this type of transportation when accompanying a blind person. The Plaintiff argued that this Article, which prohibited the transportation of animals on vehicles like buses and taxis, violated the right to equality, rights to personal and family privacy, right to free development of personality, freedom of locomotion, and private property. The court concluded that there was a violation to the right to free development of personality, freedom to locomotion, and to private property of the owners of domestic animals. The court added domestic animals as an exception to article 87, of Ley 769, meaning that this prohibition still remains for specimens of the wild fauna. Domestic animals now can travel on vehicles of public transportation, so long they are transported in conditions of health, safety, comfort and tranquility according to the applicable rules. The court also considered that a pertinent regulation was necessary to establish the requirements to transport animals on public vehicles.
  • The Constitutional Court decided on an unconstitutionality claim against Article 7 of the Statute of Animal Protection Ley 84 of 1989 that corresponds to the exceptions to the duty of animal protection. This decision established the conditions that must be met for the exceptions of Article 7 to apply. Put in different words, through Decision C-666, the court limits the scope of the legality of bullfighting, establishing certain requirements. In its holding, the Court stated that the seven practices in Article 7 would not violate the Constitution, so long as they were done within the following parameters: (1) As long as it is understood that these animals should, in all cases, obtain special protection against suffering and pain during the execution of these activities. This exception allows the continuation of cultural expressions and entertainment with animals, so long as exceptionally cruel acts against these animals are eliminated, or lessened in the future in a process of adaptation between cultural expressions and duties of protection to animals; (2) These practices can only take place in municipalities and districts in which the practices are themselves a manifestation of a regular, periodic and uninterrupted tradition, and therefore their execution responds to a certain regularity; (3) These practices can only take place during occasions in which they have commonly taken place and in the municipalities and districts where they are authorized; (4) These are the only practices that are authorized to be part of the exception in Article 7 to the constitutional duty to protect animals; and (5) Municipal authorities cannot economically support the construction of installations for the exclusive execution of the activities listed in Article 7 with public funds.
  • Decision C-889 grants constitutional value to animal protection. It establishes the parameters for tradition and social roots. It limits the scope of bullfighting in the national territory. On this opportunity, the court decided on the constitutionality of Arts. 14 and 15 of the statute of Bullfighting Statute. It establishes the criteria that must be met in order for bullfighting to be legal: (1) Bullfighting has to meet the legal conditions established for public shows in general; (2) Bullfighting must meet the legal conditions established in the statute that regulates the taurine activity, Ley 916 of 2014; and (3) Bullfighting must comply with the constitutional conditions, restrictions, and limitations established in decision C-666 of 2010 to satisfy the mandate of animal welfare, animal protection, and to avoid suffering and pain. It must also satisfy social ingrain, location, opportunity, the condition of no financial funds, and exceptionality.
  • This is the first time an animal, more specifically a dog, filed a lawsuit seeking that the government grant protection for the dog’s rights to life and health. The judge denied the action of "tutela" filed by the dog ("Negro") based on the definition of person given by the civil code. As a result, the judge concluded that "Negro" was not a person and therefore was not entitled to have rights. However, there is a possibility that the Constitutional Court on appeal will grant the plaintiff the rights he is seeking based on Decision T-622 de 2016, where the court declared that a river was subject to rights that guarantee its protection, conservation, maintenance, and restoration, and that the government was the main guarantor of these rights.
  • In this decision, the court drew a line between the concept of animal welfare and the concept of animal rights. The court continues to see animal protection from a moral perspective when it states animals do not necessarily have rights, even though they should be treated with respect and should not be abused. The Plaintiff brought an action of ‘tutela’ (Constitutional mechanism that is preferential and summary, created for the sole purpose of protection of fundamental rights) against ‘la Personería Local of Fontibón’, the local Mayor’s office of Fontibon, the District Secretary of Health, the Zoonosis Center and the Distril Secretary of the environment of Bogota. The Plaintiff argued that these governmental entities had violated his fundamental right to petition and the right to animal welfare of twenty five dogs, when the authorities ordered the confiscation the canines that were located in the District Ecological Park of the Wetland of Capellanía and who were cared for by volunteers. The Plaintiff argued that the Defendants did not respond to his request to provide funds to build a shelter and provide food and veterinary assistance of the dogs or funds to relocate them. The Plaintiff sought a response from governmental authorities on the petition and to provide the funds to save the animals, thereby avoiding the Zoonosis Center to assume their care, who would euthanize the sick animals that were not adopted after five days of being up for adoption. The lower court denied the protection of the fundamental right to petition, as it found that the authorities responded to the petition of the Plaintiff in a clear and timely matter by denying the request to fund the Plaintiff to relocate the dogs or build a shelter for them. In regards to the right to animal welfare, the lower court considered it was a legal rather than a constitutional issue, therefore the action of ‘tutela’ was not the appropriate mechanism as its purpose is to guarantee the protection of fundamental rights. The court held that there was a constitutional duty of animal protection that derives from the duty to protect the environment. However, this duty to guarantee the well-being of animals as sentient beings is not absolute and may be subject to exceptions. The court determines that the mandate to protect the environment, which includes sentient beings, does not translate into a right to animal welfare, and for that reason such duty is not enforceable through an action of tutela. The duty to protect animals presumes an obligation to care and prohibits maltreatment and cruelty against animals, unless these actions come from one of the limits stipulated in the constitution. The court affirmed the lower court decision to deny the protection to the right to petition and declared the inadmissibility of the action of tutela for the protection of animal welfare.
  • The Plaintiff brought an action of ‘tutela’ (Constitutional mechanism that is preferential and summary created for the purpose of protection of fundamental rights) acting as the legal guardian of her husband, who had spastic quadriplegia and mixed aphasia as a result of a severe cranioencephalic trauma, against Corporación Autónoma Regional de Caldas ‘CORPOCALDAS’. The Plaintiff argued that Corpocaldas had violated the rights to health and dignified life of her husband when the Defendant confiscated a parrot that was part of the Plaintiff’s rehabilitation treatment. The Plaintiff sought immediate restitution of the parrot by the Defendant. The court affirmed the decision of the lower court to deny the Plaintiff’s petition. The court determined that the confiscation of the parrot by Corpocaldas was reasonable and according to the law, therefore there was not a violation of the rights of the Plaintiff. The court stated that as wild animals belong to the nation and they can only be reduced to property when the are obtained through legal hunting or from legal breeders. In this particular case, the Plaintiff obtained the parrot as a present from her cousin, and she did not present evidence of title. The court concluded that the bird belonged to the nation, and therefore the environmental authority had acted in accordance to its duties. The court stated that even though there was a narrow relationship between the rights to health and life with the right to environment, the protection of the environment did not only aim to the protection of humans. The court indicated that the environment should be protected whether or not it offered a benefit to the human species. The rest of the beings that are part of the environment are dignified beings that are not at the absolute and unlimited disposition of the human beings. Humans are just another element of nature, and not a superior entity that has the environment at their disposition. Therefore, the use of natural resources should not cause damage or deterioration that could threaten diversity and environmental integrity, the court stated in its reasoning.
  • This is not a judicial decision that touches on animal welfare issues. However, it is important to mention as the Constitutional Court granted for the first time the status of legal person to a river. The Plaintiff, ‘Centro de Estudios para la Justicia Social “Tierra Digna”’ brought an action of ‘tutela’ (Constitutional mechanism that is preferential and summary created for the purpose of protection of fundamental rights) in representation of various community councils of the Atrato region in the Colombian Pacific against the Presidency of the Republic and others. The basin of the Atrato river covers and area of about 40,000 KM2 (15,444.086 sq mi) It is considered one of the highest water yields in the world. There are many ethnic communities that live in the adjoined municipalities that include Afro-Colombian communities, indigenous communities and mixed communities that obtain their sustenance from activities such as artisanal mining, agriculture, hunting and fishing by this river. The water of the river is also used for direct consumption. The Plaintiff alleged that the contamination of the river is a threat to the health of the communities that use the river as a source of work, recreation and to obtain food. The Plaintiffs sought that the court stop the large-scale and permanent use of illegal extraction methods of minerals such as gold and platinum. Additionally, logging that includes the use of heavy machinery and highly toxic substances such as mercury and cyanide as well as other toxic chemicals used in mining of the Atrato river. They argued that the illegal mining in the Atrato river was resulting in harmful and irreversible consequences on the environment, affecting the fundamental rights of ethnic communities that live in the area and the natural balance of the territory. For these reasons, the Plaintiffs asked the court to declare protection of the fundamental rights of the ethnic communities: life, health, water, food security, a healthy living environment, to culture and to the territory, by ordering the implementation of structural changes. The lower courts denied the action of ‘tutela’ in first and second instance, arguing that the Plaintiff sought the protection of collective rights, rather than fundamental rights. Therefore, this constitutional mechanism was not appropriate. After holding that the action of ‘tutela’ was the appropriate mechanism for the protection of the fundamental rights of the ethnic communities, the court established in its ruling that the right to water was a fundamental right, as it is a necessary component to the right to a dignified life, and it is essential for many organisms that inhabit the planet to be able to survive. The use of mercury and other toxic substances in mining activities is prohibited, regardless the legality of the activity. In a new approach, the court held that the Atrato river is subject to rights that imply its protection, conservation and maintenance and instructs the national government to be the guardian and to exercise the river’s legal representation through the president or whichever he appointed, along with the ethnic communities that inhabit the basin of the river. Thus, it guarantees the Atrato river is represented by a member of these communities and a delegate of the Colombian government.

  • The Plaintiff brought an action of ‘tutela’ (Constitutional mechanism that is preferential and summary created for the purpose of protection of fundamental rights) against Corporación Autónoma Regional de Caldas ‘CORPOCALDAS’, arguing that ‘CORPOCALDAS’ had violated the fundamental rights to health, personal integrity, life and human integrity of the Plaintiff’s wife, who became severely depressed when the Defendant confiscated an amazonian parrot she kept as her pet. The Plaintiff argued that the parrot was the only company the Plaintiff’s wife had for over five years, and that the confiscation of their parrot, was a violation of the Plaintiff's wife's fundamental rights. Furthermore, the Plaintiff argued that his wife was 65 years old, had raised the parrot that was never abused or neglected and who was allowed to move freely as her wings were never trimmed. The Plaintiff sought the the return of the parrot by the environmental authority ‘CORPOCALDAS’ to his wife, as well as the granting of the parrot’s title to her. The Court was able to find that the Plaintiff’s wife’s health was indeed diminished after the confiscation of the bird and the she had to undergo treatment as a result of it. However, the court found that the Plaintiffs were unable to provide evidence tending to prove that they had acquired the animal in a legal manner, as no permit, hunting license, or evidence that the parrot was obtained from a legal breeder were provided. The court determined that CORPOCALDAS did not overstep its responsibilities, as it is its duty to protect the wild fauna of the nation. Touching on the issue of whether the the fundamental rights of the plaintiff had been violated, the court concluded there was not such violation, as the environmental authority’s action was legal, reasonable, necessary and legitimate, and the Plaintiff did not obtained the parrot in accordance with the requirements legally established. In this case, the collective right to a healthy environment prevailed over the personal interest of the Plaintiff. The Constitutional Court affirmed the judgment of the ‘Juzgado Segundo Laboral del Circuito de Manizales’.
  • The defendant-appellant, Charles E. Settle, Jr., was convicted of two counts of inadequate care by owner of companion animals and one count of dog at large under a county ordinance, after Fauquier County Sherriff's officers were dispatched to his home on multiple occasions over the course of one calendar year in response to animal noise and health and safety complaints from his neighbors.  Consequently, all of the affected dogs were seized from Settle and relocated to local animal shelters.  The trial court also declared three of the animals to be dangerous dogs pursuant to another county ordinance.  The Court of Appeals of Virginia held that: (1) because the forfeiture of dogs was a civil matter the Court of Appeals lacked subject matter jurisdiction and was not the proper forum to decide the case; (2) that Settle failed to join the County as an indispensible party in the notice of appeal from conviction for the county ordinance violation; and (3) that the evidence was sufficient to identify Settle as the owner of the neglected companion animals.

  • In this Washington case, Valeri Sexton and Corey Recla sued Kenny Brown, DVM, for damages arising from the death of their dog. Plaintiffs alleged a number of causes of action including negligence, breach of bailment, conversion, and trespass to chattels. The incident occurred after plaintiff's dog ran away while plaintiff was camping Marblemount area. Another party found the Yorkshire terrier and took it to defendant-veterinarian's office, the Pet Emergency Center (PEC). After being examined first by a one veterinarian, defendant-veterinarian Brown took over care and determined that the dog suffered from a life threatening condition; he then told the finders that if they did not want to pay for further care, they could have the dog euthanized. This court affirmed the trial court's decision that the medical malpractice act does not apply to veterinarians. It also affirmed the dismissal of Sexton's breach of bailment claim, finding that Brown was not a finder under relevant Washington law. The court did find that there were material issues of fact about the measure of damages, and reversed the decision to limit damages to the fair market or replacement value of the dog. Further, the court found genuine issues of material fact about whether Brown's actions were justified when viewed under the requirements of Washington's veterinary practice laws.

  • Both plaintiff (appellant) Shelvey and the defendant (respondent) dog owners were guests of an unnamed third party at that party's beach cabin, where the defendants left their Rottweiler unrestrained on the cabin's deck overnight. The friendly dog jumped over the deck railing to follow the plaintiff to the beach where she was walking; the large, energetic dog bumped her legs while playfully chasing a seagull, knocking her down and leaving her unconscious. The dog had previously knocked its owner and a child down at one time due to its large size and weight. A trial judge earlier found that the defendant owners were not liable to the plaintiff in negligence as the freak accident was not reasonably foreseeable; the Court of Appeal concurred, finding no negligence. Scienter was not argued or discussed at either level.

  • After an animal hospital caused the death of a dog due to an improperly placed feeding tube, the dog owners sued for veterinary malpractice under the Tort Claims Act. The Court of Appeals held that the replacement value of the dog was the appropriate measure of damages, and not the intrinsic value. Owners’ emotional bond with the dog was not compensable under North Carolina law.

  • A dog owner sued a veterinarian and a veterinary hospital after her dog died. The Court of Appeals held that the medical malpractice act did not apply to veterinarians, and thus, did not bar claims for breach of fiduciary duty, negligent misrepresentation, conversion, trespass to chattels, and breach of bailment contract; the three-part analysis in McCurdy controlled the measure of damages and the burden of proof for damages; genuine issues of material fact about the market value of the dog, whether it could be replaced, and whether owner was entitled to present evidence of the dog’s intrinsic value, precluded summary judgment limiting owner's damages; the trial court did not abuse its discretion in striking expert’s testimony about the loss of the human-animal bond because owner was not entitled to emotional distress damages; and defendants were not entitled to attorney fees under the small claims statute.

  • This California case concerned a personal injury action arising from a collision between the plaintiff's car and defendant's black Angus bull, which was lying on the highway at night. The trial court granted the defendant's motion for summary judgment. In reversing this decision, the Court of Appeal held that the open range law does not itself define the duty owners of cattle owe nor does it exempt them from the duty of ordinary care.

  • Defendant was charged with animal cruelty after burning his girlfriend's dog while giving it a bath. He said it was an accident. There were no other witnesses, and the attending veterinarian testified that the dog's injuries were consistent with defendant's account. Defendant was nevertheless convicted after the county court suggested he could be guilty of animal cruelty if he had “carelessly” hurt the dog. Instead, the appeals court found the lower court applied the wrong legal standard. The 2011 animal cruelty statute, since repealed, that applied in this case required proof beyond a reasonable doubt that defendant acted maliciously. Since the prosecution failed to meet that burden, the Mississippi Court of Appeals reversed and rendered the defendant's conviction. Justice James dissents finding that there was sufficient evidence to support the conviction.
  • Plaintiff Shumate was barred from bringing a dog that she was training, into the classroom and to another school event. Shumate worked as a service dog trainer, while she was a student at Drake University Law School, the Defendant in this case. In 2011, Shumate filed a lawsuit alleging that Drake University discriminated against her as a service dog trainer in violation of Iowa Code chapter 216C. She alleged that chapter 216C, implicitly provided service dog trainers with a private right to sue. The Supreme Court of Iowa held that the statute does not provide service dog trainers with a private right to sue, nor did it include them under the coverage of chapter 216. The Court reasoned that although Shumate trained dogs to assist the disabled, she was not covered because she is not a person with a disability. The Court stated that closely related statutes expressly created private enforcement actions to aid the disabled while chapter 216C does not. Because an implied right of action would circumvent the procedures of the Iowa Civil Rights Act, the Iowa legislature purposely omitted a private right to sue from chapter 216C. The court vacated the decision of the court of appeals and affirmed the district court's judgment dismissing Shumate's petition with prejudice.
  • Defendant was convicted of cruelty to animals under AS 11.61.140(a) after one of her horses was found starving, without shelter, and frozen to the ground (it later had to be euthanized). On appeal, defendant claims that she did not act with the requisite "criminal negligence" under the statute unless she had a duty of care to prevent the specified harm. The court noted that while the statute does not specify the exact nature of this duty to care for particular animals, common law fills the gap. In looking to similar laws and cases from other states, the court found that AS 11.61.140(a)(2) applies only to people who have assumed responsibility for the care of an animal, either as an owner or otherwise. The jury instructions taken as a whole and the prosecutor's argument and rebuttal demonstrated that Sickel assumed the duty of care with regard to the horses and was the person tending the horses in the last three days before the now-deceased horse collapsed. The judgment of the district court was affirmed.
  • An individual appealed County Court’s decision to approve the location of a dog breeding kennel in a zone where such kennels were not permitted. The county interpreted the code that was in effect at the time the kennel began operating to allow dog breeding as animal husbandry, and thus permissible farm use. The Court of Appeals found the county's interpretation to be plausible.

  • The Sierra Club and the Carmel River Steelhead Association (CRSA) brought suit against the California American Water Company (CAW), a water and wastewater utility, seeking injunctive relief and alleging that the company was wrongfully diverting water from the Carmel River and causing harm to the South Central California Coast Steelhead fish (steelhead), an endangered species under the Endangered Species Act (ESA).   CAW moved to dismiss the action, arguing that the Court must dismiss the action under the Younger abstention doctrine because hearing the Plaintiffs' claim would interfere with ongoing state judicial proceedings.   At the time that the Sierra Club and CRSA brought suit, CAW was involved in ongoing proceedings with the California State Water Resources Control Board (SWRCB), which maintains original jurisdiction over the appropriation of surface waters within the state.   The Court found that the Younger abstention applied and dismissed the complaint for lack of jurisdiction.  

  • The Government issued regulations which allowed for the sport hunting of the Eastern Timber Wolf  (otherwise known as the gray wolf) in Minnesota, where the wolf was listed as threatened.  The court held that such regulations were invalid because the Endangered Species Act, Section 4(d) required that such regulations must be "for the conservation" of the wolf, which means for the best interest of the wolf.  The court found that the hunting of the wolf in this manner did not have the motive of the best interest of the wolf in mind.

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